The nineties were pop culture fireworks. The decade brought us Friends, the Internet, and O.J. Simpson. It was also an exciting time for music, introducing to us the grunge rock bands, Eminem, and The Fugees. Not everything was new, fun, and double-murder trials though. There was also a lot of popular music that was bad, like, really bad. Unfortunately these songs didn’t die out with the turn of the new millennium.
So what does it take to make this list? First, it had to be one of those songs that were overplayed so much it became a staple of the times and in certain cases, continues to receive airplay today. Second, and this is key, any song from the genre that was terrible then and somehow found a niche in our lifestyles such as weddings or sports events. These are the worst of the worst and need to be forgotten.
Honorable mention goes to Shania Twain who had many hits in the nineties, but it's “You’re Still The One I Want” twang that continues to hang in the air today. There is nothing too horrible about the actual song, but it doesn’t go away and hours, weeks, years later, it’s still in your head. It’s the type of song that can drive you mad.
No finger pointing at any one genre, we’ve got hip hop, pop, country, and rock represented here. Everything from un-sexiness to thongs to mullets, everything is here. Man, the nineties was a good decade for mullets. Here are the songs from the nineties you really want to just forget.
15 “Ice Ice Baby” (Vanilla Ice)
If it wasn’t for allegedly stealing the Queen/David Bowie “Under Pressure” track, we would have never known Vanilla Ice. So, I guess if there is anything bad you can say about Queen or David Bowie, there you go. The lyrics are pretty bad and the callout to the Mustang 5.0 is so weak. I’m not even going to mention his “nine” and just going to assume he’s referencing a carton of eggs with three missing. Everything visual about Ice was abdominal as well – the hair, the video and then oh god, the movie (Cool As Ice for those that never had the pleasure of seeing it). There was a line spoke by Vanilla in the movie that makes me cringe each time. Oh hell, here it goes: “Time to drop the zero and get with the hero.” Yes, Ice is the hero.
For me personally, I remember listening to this (yes, I had a 30 day infatuation with Vanilla Ice) and someone told me I really should be listening to 2 Live Crew instead. They might as well had told me to stop listening to the zero and get with the heroes. Yes, Ice is the zero here.
14 “MMMbop” (Hanson)
Somehow, I initially missed this song. I guess I was too busy listening to the Black album from Metallica or focusing on school (i.e. getting a head start on my drinking) to bother. Regardless, by the time this song was “over” people were reminiscing about this song. Few songs are referenced as a hit from the 90’s as “MMMbop” by Hanson and I still don’t understand why. It’s impossible to even understand what these kids were singing about, it sounds like they had their mouths full of candy during recording.
Now, no one will let this song rest in peace, constantly feeling the need to bring it up as nostalgia which really just brings it too much attention. I didn’t like it when I heard it and I still really don’t need to hear it now. I have nothing against these kids (or the grown up version of this band), I just don’t get the song and think it’s pretty horrible and wish I wouldn’t have to hear it again.
13 “Achy Breaky Heart” (Billy Ray Cyrus)
Billy Ray Cyrus was a pioneer, one of the country trailblazers in the nineties that helped bring country music to popular music. No longer was country music just for the sticks, it was cool to be an urban cowboy, sing about campfires and dead dogs, and grow out a mullet like no one’s business. The song is catchy and that’s a big part of the problem, because if you don’t like it (guess where I stand) you can’t un-hear it and it lingers in your head forever.
Okay, so the nineties were a great time for mullets and Billy Ray’s mullet is definitely one of the finalists for best of the decade. My rankings a few years back were John Stamos third place, Billy Ray in second, and Andre Agassi as winner of best nineties mullet. However, now we know that Agassi wore a hairpiece – an imposter mullet! Based on this information it would be great to go back and properly present Billy Ray with the trophy for best mullet of the decade.
12 “I’m Too Sexy” (Right Said Fred)
I don’t know if I love this song or hate it, but I’m still very amused by it, especially when I see the video. Where to start? The cat or boardwalk? No, I think the video starts and finishes with the mesh tank tops. If I was a coach and my team was about to play a big game I wouldn’t shout and curse to get my team jacked up. No, I would show them this video and say “Now, that’s the confidence we need to have!” Then I’d probably curse a lot because it seems like that’s something most good coaches do.
In my senior year of high school there was a school event called “air jam” where students would lip sync and put on a performance. A couple of my friends and I decided it would be funny to do this song even though we were pretty much just loser outcasts. Hey, at least we still had our sense of humor, right? The highlight (for me) was when I launched a ukulele I was playing into the audience.
11 “Mambo No. 5” (Lou Bega)
This song always bothered me, partly because of the funky beat that makes it tough to categorize (apparently everything has to fit a genre to me), and partly due to the content. Who are these girls and is he banging all of them? I was in my twenties when this song was released so let's just say I was jealous of all the action this guy was claiming. If these were actual girls. I’m guessing they really don’t like this song now (or possibly then) and their current husbands hate it even more.
Given the time in my life, if I had written a version of the song it would have been a very long list of girls that shunned me, stood me up, or not given me the time of day. It would have sounded more like a suicide note than an upbeat club song. I guess what I’m saying is Bega’s version of “Mambo No. 5” was much more uplifting than my fake version.
10 “Thong Song” (Sisqo)
There is a lot to say yet what can you really say? It’s a song about thongs. The video starts with his “daughter” bringing Sisqo a thong and asks what it is. That leads into a road trip to the beach where Sisqo and his crew go to sing about thongs. Half the lyrics to the song are the word thong (not a verified estimate that may be embellished) and the video is mostly Sisqo and girls in thongs dancing. The video also has water guns and a scene with a hotdog because…people get hungry when watching thongs? Did someone pitch this? “Okay, guys for Sisqo’s next song let’s do something about thongs and have lots of girls in thongs, what do you think?” Slow clap leads to everyone around the table nodding in agreement.
Given the popularity, was there talk of sequels called “Panties” or “Bras?” No, I guess that would have been too cheesy.
9 “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” (Crash Test Dummies)
Every decade has that one band that is awful, but not awful during the time. In the nineties, it was Crash Test Dummies and the song “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” a song that would not have been a hit any other time of man, it was just a perfect storm. If you are not familiar with the song you should pause and listen because no review can do it justice. I just watched the video twice and have no idea what it’s about. The voice gives me a headache. However, this is a case of nostalgia and why it still is played. “Hey, remember the nineties!” Uh, not everything needs to be remembered, people, some things should be forgotten.
I had a boss in the nineties who found out I really liked Pearl Jam so he assumed I liked Hootie & The Blowfish because the singer also had a deep voice. No, just because a singer has a deep voice doesn’t mean their music is the same. Idiot!
8 “Faith” (Limp Bizkit)
Limp Bizkit had several “memorable” songs during the nineties decade, but this one was their first big hit and for the most part, unnecessary. Why take a perfectly good pop song and destroy it? Regardless, Bizkit took George Michael’s hit, added rap and rock, and used it to propel nu metal into the next century. Was it groundbreaking? Sure, the music, but definitely not the bad cover. Honorable mention goes to “Nookie” because, well, we don’t need to explain it.
So yes, many of us would really like to forget this song ever happened. I’d also like to forget Fred Durst’s red NY hat. I feel this made it okay for teams to use their emblem on different colors and I’m old-school in believing teams should stick with their colors. I guess I’d like to forget the song and the Yankees for this hat. Individually, the song and hat were bad ideas and together super awful.
7 “Informer” (Snow)
This one was shocking because we had just gotten over the Vanilla Ice backlash and here comes another white rapper with a silly song…and fans of pop music ate it up. From Canada, Snow was always wearing heavy clothing, I guess because it’s cold in Canada. The name of the album was 12 inches of Snow which is a clever name if you like dick jokes (note: I love them), but beyond that, would like to forget about Snow and his song “Informer.” The lyrics sounded like he was saying “licky boom boom now” and when you look at the actual lyrics it’s “licky boom boom down.” Wow, those are the actual words!
The lyrics also reference stabbing someone which is crazy because he’s a white Canadian rapper saying the lyrics “licky boom boom down.” You can’t follow “licky boom…” with “stab someone” unless it’s in reference to whomever wrote those lyrics. That’s lyrics 101 people!
6 “Nothing My Love Can’t Fix” (Joey Lawrence)
Joey Lawrence, best known for playing Joey on Blossom and saying “Woah” each episode (to my recollection anyway), is also a musician and in the nineties he had a semi-hit, “Nothing My Love Can’t Fix.” The teenage heartthrob didn’t blow anyone away with his song, but it was incredibly popular and still gets rotation today even though he’s no longer the icon he was during the nineties.
Did you know Joey has been in four shows (Gimme A Break, Blossom, Melissa & Joey, and Brother Love) and in each one his character was named Joe or Joey. Was this so he would know his character? I think it’s because he just looks like a Joe or Joey. It’s a solid name and I would take it as a compliment. If every character was a different name, you’d probably wonder why they didn’t just use your name. Man, Joey Lawrence really gets all the breaks.
5 “Livin’ La Vida Loca” (Ricky Martin)
This one is a pick your poison type of song. It’s super catchy so if you hear this song don’t expect to forget it anytime soon. It’s really upbeat, way too upbeat for most which makes it a very “happy” song even though I’m not so sure that’s the intent. I love how some people were surprised when Ricky Martin came out of the closet. I mean, c’mon, of course he’s gay. Listen to the song, no one straight has that much fun!
Martin pretty much has everything you look for in a performer. I guess the problem is that this song is so good it’s impossible to not find yourself singing the lyrics, stopping, and then saying out loud, “what the hell am I doing?” I always find myself trying to sing the lyrics “woke up in New York City” and I don’t even know what comes after it. It’s just this one phrase that gets stuck in my head. More strange is that this is where I live so of course this is where I’m going to wake up.
4 “What’s Up” (4 Non Blondes)
Oh, this song had quite the run. It was on ALL the time. The first time I heard it I though Led Zeppelin had put out new music. Sadly that’s true, I’m not proud of that. I made my mistake, admitted it, and now we move on. For those who need a refresher, the singer of the band is the girl who wore goggles on top of her hat. This is the same look that the guy from The Pickup Artist from VH1 wore. I’m 100 per cent certain there is no connection; however, I find this interesting.
I’m pretty sure they had a couple songs that hit the radio, but this was the only one that really hit big and the one that is still played occasionally. I have no issue except that it was so overplayed I just had had enough and really think it should have been retired when the calendar hit the year 2000.
3 “Higher” (Creed)
The song “Higher” is a representation of a much bigger problem. During the late nineties, Creed came on and continued into the new century to put out these crazy rock anthems that all sounded like the same song. It was so bad that when Nickelback hit the scene that band sounded refreshing. Well, for a minute anyway. I guess it was the low voice and positive message that resonated with fans of Creed. A few thought, oh hey, it’s like Pearl Jam, but no, they weren’t. Creed kept going after 2000 mostly because there weren’t any other rock bands and we need guitars dammit! When you heard people say “rock is dead”, they were often talking about Creed.
I don’t know where, but I heard someone compare Creed videos to US Armed Forces recruiting videos. That’s really perfect! I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Scott Stapp was channeling his inner Rambo when making videos with his band. He’s always coming out of the water or flying in the air or on the side of a mountain.
2 “Macarena” (Los Del Rio)
Weddings are a mixed bag, part of the wedding is fun, but there are also not fun parts. Add “Macarena” to the not fun parts of every wedding forever and ever. This song is going to continue to haunt everyone for the rest of their lives, playing at every wedding and family get together till the end of time. I guess part of my problem is that I’ve never been a huge group dance guy. I don’t get it. I mean when MC Hammer was big everyone didn’t get into a line and do the Hammer dance, did they? Well, not for very long… I’ve got the same problem with country line dancing.
So, we need to prepare ourselves because there is no way of closing the book on this song. It’s now a go-to song that typically plays after the “Electric Slide” and right before the “Chicken Dance.”
1 “Who Let The Dogs Out?” (Baha Men)
I like sporting events, but now every sporting event is ruined (at least for 30 seconds) thanks to the Baha Men. I blame Budweiser. They started all of this with Spud’s Mackenzie in the eighties which made it cool for dogs to party. This led to Rude Dog T-shirts which if you remember, were cheap shirts in the nineties with “bad ass” sayings, and a dog (a rude dog). This led to the Baha Men. To recap my theory: Spud’s Mackenzie led to Rude Dog which led to the Baha Men. So when it’s the opening of a 4th quarter and I hear this song and look down and see I’m sipping a Budweiser, well, I’m pretty much in hell.
For the Baha Men, it’s pure gold to hit the stadium sound bite market because most play the same thing over and over. Let’s see you have the opening to “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne, and “Who Let The Dogs Out?” by Baja Men. Yep, that’s pretty much it…