“Creep” by Radiohead
Released on Pablo Honey February 22 1993
I grew up a strange child and had never really heard a song by Radiohead until high school. One day, as my father was driving me home from school, he asked me “Do you have the song ‘Creep’ by Radiohead?” Being a hip young child who supposedly listened to such wonder, I nodded, even though I’d never even heard or heard of the song, nor owned it. “Great,” he said “‘cause I’d love a copy!” So as soon as we arrived back at the house, I turned on the computer and downloaded the track, like a good little daughter. What I heard was absolutely wonderful. I’d gone through a tough time with a guy I was interested in at the time, and the lyrics really echoed what I was feeling. These lyrics also echoed the feelings I’d always felt as a child going through my prime awkward stage. Eight years later, and I’m dealing with the same situation; a different guy but the same pain; “I want you to notice when I’m not around. You’re so f**king special, I wish I was special.” I recently got into the habit of creating playlists for how I’m feeling; this song is listed among the favorites that I’ve chosen to describe the feelings that I have for this guy. This song is universal, and is loved by so many. I feel that it describes something we’ve all been through; pain, invisibility, heartbreak, etc. The song is 22 years old, and still speaks wisdom to us today.
“Always” by Erasure
Released April 26th, 1994
When it comes to ‘90s music, it’s fair to say I’m out of the loop. In fact, when tasked with finding a song from my birth year, I had to do a quick google search. Imagine my surprise and utter glee when I discovered that this glorious mound of cheese is just a handful of months older than I am. If you love fantasy, bazaar sound effects, and the subtle feeling that you’re being creeped upon, you will love this track. Also contains lyrical gems such as “Open your eyes, I see / Your eyes are open” and the chorus, from whence the song draws its name: “Always, I want to be with you / And make believe with you / And live in harmony, harmony oh love”. This ecstatic orgasm of embarrassing fantasies, vomited into the vessel of a weirdly produced song, is sure to put a smile on your face (or at least make you feel slightly queasy). Bonus: Featured in Adult Swim’s legendary game you may have played incessantly in high school: Robot Unicorn Attack.
“Not a Pretty Girl” by Ani DiFranco
Released July 18, 1995
Ani DiFranco’s album Not a Pretty Girl came out on July 18 1995, only 10 days before I was born. I really dig this album, and it was actually an album I listened to a lot during high school. This album talks a lot about being comfortable with yourself and your own complexity, and it also talks about being queer and angry and independent. These are all things I really clicked with in high school (and some I really click with now), so I’m glad that me and this album ‘came out’ around the same time. One song that I like in particular is the title track “Not a Pretty Girl.” It’s a soft, acoustic song with lyrics that hammer down at the patriarchy and traditional gender roles. DiFranco lays out the patriarchal idea that men need to save women and that women are perceived as irrational because of their anger in lyrics that tell a story and tell men off.
“Long View” by Green Day
Released February 1, 1994
Oh, Green Day—classic Green Day, Billie Joe Armstrong-eyeliner-wearing-coke-inhaling-bleached-hair-quintessential Green Day—“Long View” is iconic for so many reasons. Firstly, it was on Dookie, Green Day’s third album, which enabled their rise to stardom. Green Day (at least in their early days) is known for showing that they have good taste in music, and many of said traits are embodied in “Long View.” For example, a steady, walking-ish and yet declarative baseline drives the melody, kind of like those found in many songs by the Clash or the Jam; but while those mod/early punk groups might have written about politics and social inequalities, the lyrics in “Long View” aren’t so deep. They’re still angry, sure, but the lyrics are simple, and full of adolescent restlessness and general angst. These attitudes are also replicated in the few power cords repeated throughout, something found in basically every Ramones song ever. Also, the music video—featuring the violent destruction of a couch—always makes for an exciting watch (to say the least, I was terrified and intrigued when I saw this at age 11). In all seriousness though: think what you want about Green Day as a whole, but Mike Dirnt’s bass line here made me want to learn the instrument.
“What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
Released June 23rd, 1993
It’s always great to see a rockin’ all-lady band, even if 4 Non Blondes wasn’t destined for fame and greatness. They were only together 5 short years (1989-94), but they gave the world “What’s Up” in the year of my birth, and for that I am eternally grateful. Not a fast jam, maybe not even a “catchy” jam, but somehow “What’s Up” will stick in your spine like the residues of LSD, and send your world kicking every now and then. You won’t even know why, but suddenly you’ll find yourself singing: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah, Yeah, yeah, yeah… I said hey! What’s goin’ on?!”
The song holds a certain nostalgia for me, because of it’s random emergence in the halls of Dascomb throughout the 2012-3 school year. As a wee freshman, I would be sitting on my bed, doing homework, wondering why everything was dumb (in classic freshman-style), and out of nowhere I would faintly hear some boys in my hall singing, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah…” It must have happened four or five times throughout the school year, but at 1-2 month long intervals apart. Strange how “What’s Up” comes to haunt or comfort us in the best of times and the worst of times.