Weird '90s

Talk To The Hand: This Week’s Best And Worst Comments

It’s Weird ’90s Week on Stereogum. All week long we looked at the strangest musical moments and trends of the decade. Check out more here.

On a rainy Saturday last fall I went to Brooklyn’s inaugural ’90s Fest, a haphazard day-long celebration featuring performances by Coolio, Lisa Loeb, Tonic, Smash Mouth, Blind Melon 2.0, Naughty By Nature, and Salt-N-Pepa. Nineties nostalgia is right on time of course, but to those of us who grew up in the era of CD-ROMs and grunge, it feels sorta soon! And when I see the youngs tweeting Friends gifs, wearing chokers, and listening to Pitbull sampling Soup Dragons, I can’t help but think they are getting the wrong idea. The ’90s were a lot weirder than all that.

Fest organizers had promised ’90s snacks on-site so I’d committed to consuming nothing but Snackwell’s and BoKu that day, but I did not see any era-appropriate food save for the bottle of Sunny D used as a stage prop by emcee Pauly Shore. The ’90s were a simpler time since our internet was dial-up and our Whitney Houston was not a hologram, and it’s also important to remember that we did not have camera phones, without which ’90s Fest would not exist. I never saw more selfies taken in my life than I did at 50 Kent that day. Selfies with roaming Rugrats, selfies in a Betches-sponsored tent decorated like a ’90s teen’s bedroom, selfies in front of the dunking booth where Instagram plagiarist Fuck Jerry was green slimed, selfies with former NBA star Vin Baker who was there for some reason. (Pauly Shore: “Do you guys know Fuck Jerry?” Audience: [silence]).

Thanks to the internet, ’90s stars never have to go away. There are things like the I Love The ’90s tour to join and, if your band ever had fans, PledgeMusic will help you find them and make them pay for a new album. This has been true for Toad The Wet Sprocket, De La Soul, Blues Traveler, and dozens of other vintage acts in recent years. It is not necessarily a bad thing! I like Toad The Wet Sprocket and it’s not like a record company is gonna give them money! But I don’t really need new Ugly Kid Joe songs clogging my inbox, you know? I’d rather listen to nineties-inspired bands like Dilly Dally, Beach Slang, Hop Along, and DMA’s than a Sugar Ray/Better Than Ezra/Uncle Kracker supergroup.

Still, there’s always room for nostalgia at Stereogum and I hope you guys enjoyed Weird ’90s Week. After the hysteria surrounding this month’s surprise-y new albums by Radiohead, James Blake, and Chance The Rapper, it was refreshing to revisit topics that are a little less pressing. And if for some reason you didn’t like reading about Len and Chris Gaines, you’ll be happy to know the ’90s obsession ends today. We’ll be back Monday with our regular programming about Billy Corgan and Sir Mix-A-Lot.

THIS WEEK’S 10 HIGHEST RATED COMMENTS

#10  son_of_cheap_suit | May 13th Score:36

She doesn’t have any valid points, though. Using racial slurs against a person to remind them of their supposedly rightful position in the world is actually exactly what racists do. This is her 3467438th bigoted rant on twitter so we no longer have to pretend there’s some kernel of intellect in her bullshit.

Posted in: Azealia Banks Takes Her Talents To Instagram, Says She Was Suspended From Twitter Because Of White Supremacy
#9  grioir | May 16th Score:36

Scotty Morris, the singer in Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, was the first person I ever punched in the face. This would have been roughly in 1977 or so in suburban Southern California, when I was five years old. He was a year or two older, and the local neighborhood bully of sorts. He was over at my house one summer day, playing with my younger brother and me in my sandbox. At one point, he poured a bucket of sand into my three-year-old brother’s diaper, so I hit him squarely in the face and knocked him over. After my mother ran out to stop the fight, his mother came over to take him home, and I don’t think I ever spoke to him again (he moved to a different suburb not long after that anyways). He eventually went on to play in a succession of awful Nardcore bands (False Confession!) a few years after that, then somehow evolved into being one of the key foundational figures in the big band revival.

More then twenty years later, I came home to visit my parents, who happened to be watching ‘Swingers’ on TV. During the climactic dance scene at the end of the movie, my mother suddenly blurted out: “I think that guy right there jumping up and down in front of the band is that boy you punched for dumping sand down your brother’s diaper that one time all those years ago!” And I hadn’t realized that until that moment, but indeed it was. But, in hindsight, I do want to say this: if that particular traumatic moment in the childhood of young Scotty Morris somehow ended up contributing to the emergence of the big band revival two decades later, well then, I want to publicly apologize to all of you.

Posted in: Let’s All Remember The Late-’90s Swing Revival
#8  Max the King of All Wild Things | May 13th Score:38

Calling him racial slurs was my way of trying to angrily remind him that he is in fact not one of them, he is one of US.

Oh, go fuck yourself. You don’t get to say that. Racist shit isn’t some provocative way of reminding anyone of anything other than hate, and your “he’s white but I’m reminding him he’s not” nonsense doesn’t even make sense. Ugh. This shit makes me so angry because it’s also the kind of nonsense some asshole will look at and say “See! Playing the race card!” Just fuck all of this so hard.

Plus she supports Trump, which if there was any validity here, would pretty much throw it all out the fucking window.

Posted in: Azealia Banks Takes Her Talents To Instagram, Says She Was Suspended From Twitter Because Of White Supremacy
#7  Max the King of All Wild Things | May 16th Score:38

COUNTERPOINT: Dear God, please let’s not.

Posted in: Let’s All Remember The Late-’90s Swing Revival
#6  frog oracle | May 17th Score:38

Can you imagine doing all this research and thinking this hard about Chris Gaines, of all things, and then the first comment you read is this one?

smh

Posted in: Party Off, Garth: The Short Life And Long Death Of Chris Gaines
#5 

Caleb Tripp | May 16th Score:39

Tom with the #humblebrag, casually dropping that he dated TWO girls in high school.

Posted in: Let’s All Remember The Late-’90s Swing Revival
#4  a.j.howard09 | May 17th Score:42

Yeah, who wants to read a very well-written piece about how the one of the biggest stars of his era at the peak of his popularity chose to make one of the weirdest experiments in pop music history. A country music star doing things like creating a fictional character with a full back story, hosting SNL as himself with his fake alt-rock character as a musical guest, and filming a fake Behind the Music special isn’t compelling at all.

Posted in: Party Off, Garth: The Short Life And Long Death Of Chris Gaines
#3 

Caleb Tripp | May 16th Score:45

Tom’s all like:

Posted in: Let’s All Remember The Late-’90s Swing Revival
#2  trambopoline | May 18th Score:49

give it a chance, i’m 45 minutes into the video & i can tell you the song’s a real grower

Posted in: Blink-182’s New Song Sucks But At Least It’s Only 14 Seconds Long
#1  crania americana | May 13th Score:57

A lot of people can’t stand Meghan Trainor’s music, but she just can’t stand.

Posted in: Here’s Meghan Trainor Falling Down On The Tonight Show

THIS WEEK’S 5 LOWEST RATED COMMENTS

#5 

Tim Curtin | May 13th Score:-16

Agawhaty?

Posted in: Agalloch Break Up
#4  zz bottom | May 16th Score:-16

If she turns up dead, errryone on SG will be memorializing her profound influence on their lives.

Posted in: Chicago Police Searching For Missing And Possibly Suicidal Sinead O’Connor
#3  zz bottom | May 16th Score:-16

Except for Sinead. Cos she’ll be dead.

Posted in: Chicago Police Searching For Missing And Possibly Suicidal Sinead O’Connor
#2  YouBeautifulBastard | May 14th Score:-20

Cool story, br–uh, I mean, sis. Lemme know how your plan to radically reorient human society around conceptually dubious ecofeminist dogmas works out for you.

Also, the dig at the FT at the end is some Morrissey-esque petty whining, except Moz is funny.

Posted in: Anohni On The Election: “Americans, You Are Being Used”
#1 

Kevin Kania | May 17th Score:-36

Stuff like this makes me really confused about the editorial direction of this site for the last couple of years.

Posted in: Party Off, Garth: The Short Life And Long Death Of Chris Gaines

THIS WEEK’S EDITOR-IN-CHIEF’S CHOICE

  guybernetic | May 18th Score:1

It’s interesting to see the perspective of 30 somethings of that time and that trend. You guys didn’t really get to experience any of it at ground level in the dive bars and shitty nightclubs, since you were in high school. You guys heard about swing on the airwaves, at the theaters and on MTV. It had already been eaten up and shat out by marketing departments, packaged, processed and monetized so you could consume the product. Of course it was sterilized and saccharine.
Try to consider the Gen Xers in their early 20s, the ones too poor to shop at the Gap or Au Coton (google it). We shopped at thrift stores, where the Greatest Generation’s clothes were piling up as they died off. If you’re gonna’ wear an old baggy suit to your temp job, you might as well throw on a hat since it was only two dollars. We’d all grown up on black-and-white movies, listening to swing music every Saturday after cartoons, when Abbot and Costello or the Thin Man was on. The economy sucked, grunge didn’t sit well after all those 80s synthesizers, and our heads were full of yearning for the romance that we’d watched on TV of our grandparents’ era. We already were dressed for the part…why not live the life as well?
So we hit the dive bars and shitty nightclubs, where there was live music. Bands put together by guys and gals that had been in jazz band in high school and college. Novelty and nostalgia acts. Lavay Smith and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Carmen Getit and the Hammond Cheese Orchestra. Vise Grip and the Ambassadors of Swing. Royal Crown Revue. Swing music wasn’t meant to be heard over speakers. It was meant to be live. When you hear music like that, you have to dance.
Remember, the 80s had pretty much seen the end of partner dancing, at least in dance clubs. A guy asking a girl to dance was really just an invitation to dance near her. With a live swing band playing and a postage stamp dance floor, a guy who wasn’t afraid to dance had no shortage of girls to dance with. It was an immediate icebreaker. No stupid pickup lines, didn’t even have to buy her a drink. All you had to ask was, “May I have a dance”? Chances were she’d buy you a drink if you made her look good.
So I get that you guys disparage the trend. That’s what you experienced – a trend. I had a very different experience. I boozed it up, smoked, got to dance with an awful lot of very pretty girls and had a great time for about six years until that Gap commercial heralded that the hoi polloi had caught on. After that, the scene just flooded with goons in cheesy cartoon clothes and lindy hoppers that drank nothing but water, so bars stopped booking swing bands since they weren’t making any money selling booze. Neo-swing bands like the assorted Daddys that got big were never my cup of tea, since it was always about live music in small venues.

Posted in: Let’s All Remember The Late-’90s Swing Revival