Tony and Daniel: Popping Culture 4 (90’s Music)

This week, Tony and Daniel go back in time to an age that everyone on Facebook longs for… the 90’s.

Daniel: When you think of 90’s music, what is the first band/artist that comes to mind?

He digs Pearl Jam.

He digs Pearl Jam.

Tony: Pearl Jam. I am and will always be a colossal and unrepentant Pearl Jam dork. I actually wrote an article called “It Gets Vedder” about being a Pearl jam fan and spending my whole life getting shit for it. I sent the article to Patrick Warburton (voice of Brock Samson) because I know he’s a huge Pearl Jam fan and he actually wrote me back and told me he dug it. He also told me he only disagreed with one thing I said in the article which was that though Pearl Jam is my favorite band I can admit that objectively Nirvana is a more important and better band. He was like, nope, Pearl Jam is still a better band. He’s Brock fucking Samson, I’m not going to argue with the guy.

Flannel was definitely the most ubiquitous accouterment of the 90’s. But many people pigeonhole it into just being a grunge rock look. Everybody forgets gangsta flannel. Which gangsta rap star of the early 90’s rocked the fiercest Canadian Kevlar look in your opinion?

Daniel: Wu-Tang Clan. Though it was rarely an effort that the whole group made, at least one or two were always rocking flannel. If you Google “hip hop flannel” now, you literally get a billion pictures of Chris Brown, and while I’m not one for nostalgia, if that’s what the internet instantly thinks when I type in “hip hop flannel”, well R.I.P. Happiness.

Also, my favorite early 90’s rap group was Gravediggaz, and I searched long and hard for proof that they may have worn flannel at some point. All I found was nightmares.

What band from this period had the best wardrobe?

Tony: Jane’s Addiction. Perry Farrell back in the early 90’s looked so fucking cool. He had awesome crunchy dreads, he wore like latex, dominatrix gloves and corsets on top of some Hawaiian flower dress….and it worked. He wore makeup but never looked like a monochrome goth. He was in Technicolor. He looked a lot like a drowned witch at a rave, kind of like the “bog bitch” monster that comes out of the swamp in the movie Legend and tries to kill Tom Cruise. Only Perry was working that shit. Oh yeah, there were three other guys in the band too. They looked alright I guess. One was Dave Navarro before he became a TV personality dingus.

I’m a big fan of mirror rocking, which is the practice of putting a song on and getting in front of the mirror and rocking that shit to pieces. I cultivated all my mirror rocking abilities, which are formidable, in the 90’s. What 90’s artist do you still find yourself mirror rocking to? If you can’t admit that, who did you used to mirror rock to when you were younger?

rob-zombie-on-stage

Daniel: Rob Zombie waves his arms like he’s constantly casting spells on the entire audience. In the years that I’ve practiced it, I haven’t yet mastered the “Dragula YMCA” but I’ll get there soon enough.

You’re stuck in the world of one 90’s music video forever. Which do you choose to spend eternity in?

Tony: I should choose a video that is all hot sex, like Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” but if I’m being honest, I’d rather be in something totally sexless and just dumb, violent fun like Beastie Boys “Sabotage”. Which sadly speaks volumes about who I am. I’d rather play TV cop with a bunch of other boys than have a non-stop orgy with pretty girls. God, I’m sad.

Give me one group or artist that was popular in the 90’s that you can’t stand. Tell me not only why they make your penis soft but why they should make everyone else’s penises soft. Even lady penises.

Daniel: You mention it in your answers, but Puff Daddy. Holy shit, he’s still sort of relevant, against all of God’s will, but there’s no part of him that doesn’t suck. Listen to his song that plays over the credits of Godzilla. The whole soundtrack to Godzilla was an inside job. They had to be aware that putting that awful thing over the end of the movie was going to sabotage it further.

Two typically 90’s bands that never collaborated are now forced to. What two bands are they, what’s the name of the album, and how good is it?

Tony: I want Alice In Chains to make an album with Notorious B.I.G. back when Layne and Biggie were still alive, naturally. They could call the band Notorious A.I.C. and the album would be called Even More Ready To Die. It’d be a sort of dialogue between drug dealers (Biggie) and drug addicts (Layne). It would feature Alice In Chains’ signature eerie harmonizing on top of some slick but stripped down beats from the band (No Puff Daddy production, fuck him forever for bastardizing Zep’s “Kashmir” on his song “Come With Me” off the Godzilla soundtrack) and Biggie would provide his lyrical insight and creamy vocal deliver for the verses. I want to say I think this would sound good but almost 90% of rock and rap hybrids sound like dog shit set on fire. So….

What holdout artist from the 80’s suffered the worst when they tried to maintain relevancy and stay hip during the 90’s? Who rode out the storm badly?

Daniel: (You hate the Godzilla soundtrack too? Thank you.) Poor Cyndi Lauper. Did you know that she had an album called “Sisters of Avalon”? I think the title was supposed to be a reference to the Gargoyles cartoon. She was a great part of the Rockin’ Wrestlin’ Cybdi Lauperin’ 80’s, but there is no part of her work in the 90’s that doesn’t suck. Unlike a lot of other people who were like “Maybe my music would sound better with some of those rap-ey sounding things in it” and died awful, messy deaths, Lauper’s musical output evokes pure pity. She stayed true to herself.

What is your favorite soundtrack from any 90’s film?

Tony: Tough one. I’d go with Singles. The film is actually nothing special. But the soundtrack has got Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone on it. It’s a nice grunge time capsule. The Crow soundtrack is my runner-up. I would have picked the Pulp Fiction soundtrack but it’s comprised almost entirely of songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 50’s.

 Which of the great grunge gods had the best hair? Head and/or facial?

sound-garden

Daniel: Look at the variety of hairstyles on Soundgarden’s heads. You have a guy cosplaying as 70’s Sid Haig. You have another who is going to be labelled “irrevocable douchebag” in a few years, when self-awareness catches up to him. One guy has Olympian locks, flowing over his shoulders like is it hair? Is it tendrils? Is it…lust? And the last guy has that soulful, it-used-to-be-long-in-the-80’s-but-now-it’s-just-a-little-poofed-up style. It’s shampoo and conditioner poetry.

You’re forced to roast one 90’s musician. What are three one liner disses that you deliver?

Tony: I choose you Master P.
You put out an album called Only God Can Judge Me, I disagree. You called your label No Limit Records but had to file for bankruptcy in 2003, you yourself attempted a career in the NBA and failed at that, you were even invited and then asked to leave Professional Wrestling because no liked you and your crew; so how exactly does that constitute no limit? All that being said, apparently, according to Forbes magazine, you are worth 350 million dollars. You’re like some hip-hop Forest Gump, how the hell are you still making money.?

What’s the sexiest 90’s music video?

Daniel: Before his face slowly transformed into a pruned sex toy, Tom Jones put out his cover of Prince’s “Kiss.” Now, I know what it looks like: Tom Jones singing and dancing in his coat, forcing wives to reconsider their marriages globally, but wait for the part where he just dances. What does Web MD have to say about “loins erupting”? It’s arousing in ways that the world doesn’t fully understand.

Three albums to bring on a desert island?

Tony: Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy, Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head, Smashing Pumpkins’ Melon Collie and The Infinite Sadness. (Also fuck this question, this is impossible!)

Are there any 90’s music videos that featured a storyline compelling enough that you wished they’d make a feature film based on it? If so, describe the film and what you want to see happen in it?

Daniel: Rob Zombie already made House Of 1000 Corpses, based around all of his videos from Hellbilly Deluxe. I am satisfied.

What artist from this time period was most ahead of their time? Most behind their time?

Tony: Ahead of their time the obvious answer is Radiohead, and that works for me. Behind their time I’d say Metallica. I would have picked Guns ‘N Roses for this but they really dissolved after the early 90’s, whereas Metallica came into the 90’s huge and relevant and then spent the rest of the decade trying to figure how to be a metal band that didn’t really play metal anymore.

What’s a 90’s song that whenever it plays you must dance to it? No matter what, you have to cut up that rug when this song plays. What is it?

Daniel: I’m happy to find that a lot of our 90’s music tastes match up, because I love “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys. There is so much fucking enthusiasm in that thing that I can’t help but flail.

I would never call any rhythmic motion that I would do with my body “dancing.” Dancing implies that there is some goodness to it, but my dancing skills are so stereotypically white and awkward that they start selling Dave Sedaris books at the bar whenever I walk into a club. When “Sabotage” comes on, which, by all means, it should be a club song, mixed in wbetween 2 Chainz and Big Boi, well evacuate the motherfucking dance floor. In this hypothetical super-reality, where you can take shots to Beastie Boys in modern public, the crowd forms in a circle around me, chanting my name, as I become a cyclone of powerful arm thrusts and tiny kicks. My happiness is infectious, and any depression in the surrounding tri-city area is cured.

I’m a hero.

You, Tony, have been chosen by the government to go back in time and tell one band a vital piece of information from the future. What band is it? What do you tell them?

Tony: I’d go back to like ’96 and tell Eddie Vedder to quit smoking.

What genre of music is your favorite from the 90’s era? Gangsta rap, alternative rock, ska, Britpop, boyband ballads?

Daniel: As I said earlier, I love Gravediggaz. Can my genre by Gravediggaz? Or just really unclean, disjointed songs about horrible things? No diss to Gravediggaz. They made pure madness as digestible as possible, but there’s something about music that feels like it was made of instruments crafted from skeleton parts that I really enjoy.

I also really enjoy Weird Al from the 90’s. That man is a genre in himself, and watching the ways that he tried to branch out and maintain success in the 90’s, when he could’ve just stuck with pop stuff was admirable. I’ll rock “Amish Paradise” until I’m dead.

What is a song that you liked back then that no one else did? Why did you like it? Argue why it’s so cool.

Note: Daniel didn't know who Sugar Ray was for a long time. When I read Tony's answer, I thought it was this guy.

Note: Daniel didn’t know who Sugar Ray was for a long time. When he read Tony’s answer, he thought it was this guy.

Tony: Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning”. I have never owned a Sugar Ray album and pretty much don’t like any of their other songs. But this song I cannot deny, it’s so fucking catchy and it makes me feel way laid back. Just a crisp summer jam, talking about getting laid and making mistakes but it all works out in the end. So there I like it. Sorry, cool kids, I’ll leave my membership card at the door.

A lot of artists who were big in the 90’s died young. Sometimes this was by their own hand but many other times it was not. Either way, they died young. If you could save or spare one of the artists who died before their time in the 90’s by switching them out with an artist who actually survived the 90’s and having that person take their place and die instead, who would it be?

Daniel: Stevie Ray Vaughan died in 1990. He had a shit ton more to give before his helicopter decided to be an asshole about everything. I would replace him with Lil Wayne’s entire everything that he’s done with guitars. I don’t want Wayne dead, that would be cruel, but I would happily have Stevie alive now if I could have Wayne’s two year “rock star wheezy” phase wiped from existence.

For Tony and Daniel discussing John Carpenter, go here.

For Tony and Daniel discussing Mortal Kombat, go here.

For Tony and Daniel discussing Batman, go here. 

Daniel Dockery is a writer who lives in Asheville, NC. You’re currently reading his blog. He’s also writing a book. Study while you can. He’s all the hope there is.

Tony McMillen is a writer and novelist living in Boston. You can find his pop culture musings, usually full of vitriol and whimsy, at DigBoston.com where he writes the column “Touch The Wonder”. You can also find more of his stuff at sites like ManArchy and Hecklerspray. If you wanna party with Tony, find him on Facebook. If you are David Lee Roth time displaced from 1984, don’t worry, he’ll find you

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