15 Terrible Early-90’s Songs Suburban Kids Listened to in The Back of Our Friends’ Moms’ Minivans and Have Tried to Block Out Since

90’s nostalgia has been upon us for awhile, and, much like Ren Faire attendees would rather ignore the fact that the Medieval era would’ve been torturous to endure, those screaming about how much they “LOVE 90’s music!!!” rarely look objectively at the decade. Y’see, kids, kids, pop music went on a strange tangent in those years between the 80’s and the Britney/Christina/boy band invasion of ’98, and thanks to our parents’ determination to follow the stars of yore during their respective descents into Snoozeville (see: Rod Stewart, Elton John), a horrible vanilla phase emerged in the undercurrent of the adult contemporary genre. A huuuge chunk of 90’s musical culture includes this wave of hostile Caucasian Americana-brand mediocrity which permeated suburban life via carpool lane radio and The Weather Channel. It’s in our best interest to remember this dark side so we aren’t doomed to repeat it.

All I’m saying is: Thank God for “The Bodyguard” Soundtrack breaking through to the Mom-pop stations and keeping it interesting. We miss you, Whitney. 

Anyway, a healthy life is about balance, so to offer a counterweight to the glory of 90’s hip hop/rap/alternative/R&B/riot grrrl/grunge, I’ve curated some of the worst pop hits from 1990-95. I’m not going to bash many of the era’s heavy-hitters (Celine, Michael Bolton, Kenny G,) even though they were also responsible for some heavy-duty earsores (looking at you too, Madonna). Instead, let’s explore those subtle-yet-pervasive hits that we’ve all tried very hard to blot out in the years since.

FUN FACT: I’d never seen the videos to any of these songs, because, as the oldest of four kids in a pretty conservative family, I didn’t have any exposure to MTV until after Kurt Cobain was dead. So I first experienced these as I put this post together – a real treat!

As a warm-up, here’s
Aaron Neville’s Cotton Commercial

Ready now? Let’s do this!

How Do You Talk to an Angel – The Heights

I’M COMING IN HOT!!! Yeah, I said it, 90210 fans!! NOW WHAT WHAT NOW?!!?!?
No, but seriously, y’guys. Give this another listen with our now-adult perspectives and tell me it’s a good song with a straight face. If you can, you’re a sociopath, no questions asked.
Also, I’m not going to get into the whole Gin Blossoms/BoDeans/Rembrandts/Spin Doctors soft-altrock thing any further than this. Promise.

All for Love – Sting, Rod Stewart, & Bryan Adams (from “The Three Musketeers” Soundtrack)

Alright, to avenge 90210 Fans, here I am stepping on my own toes because I definitely liked this song and absolutely harmonized the shit out of it together with my BFF just this summer when she visited my place. And it. Is. The. Worst.

Soldier of Love – Donny Osmond

Alright, CONFESSION: I didn’t know Donny Osmond sang this until just now. Again, my pop culture knowledge has a lot of blind spots from that era (Ex: I just watched both “Total Recall” and “Basic Instinct”  for the first time just this week. Yeah, really.) But true to form, he continues to be not at all “rock’n’roll”, no matter how hard he’s working that Jordan Knight-knockoff look.

Good for Me – Amy Grant

Whenever people my age whine that “music these days has just gotten soo baaaad. I miss the good old days when pop music was great!!”, my brain immediately thinks of Amy Grant and Billy Ocean as evidence to the contrary.
You guys, Amy Grant was awful. (BUZZKILL ALERT: There’s a ton of scientific reasoning why everyone believes the music that came out during their adolescent years was the best. It correlates with your pubescent hormones and the imprinting of the feelings the music gave you at that time in your life holding significant value and meaning, exactly like your first love. This is why you’re not as amazed by new music when you’re an adult and why your parents hated what you were listening to when you were a teen. The music wasn’t better; you were just hormonal. Sorry ’bout it.) “Good For Me” is particularly cheesy, although “Baby, Baby” is a close second.

Anything by Jon Secada. Just anything.

There was a span of about a year where this guy was everywhere and honestly, all his tracks sound like clones of each other. In fact, until I went hunting for his videos on YouTube just now, I didn’t realize I know at least 5 songss of his because I was convinced it was just the same two played over and over. Also, I remember always wondering whether or not his music was secular or if he was Trojan-horsing a Jesus message on all of us, which was a super common thing back in those days, as evidenced by…

Michael W. Smith – I Will Be Here For You

Christian crossover artists were all over contemporary charts at the time (see: Amy Grant) and Michael W. Smith was the guy your parents were happy for you to listen to because you’d probably hear his stuff at the “contemporary service” on Sunday, too!

Faithful – Go West

I’m cackling at the idea of any of you curiously clicking this link to give this a first listen because JEE. ZUSS. I forgot how terrible this song was. Oh man. I’m so sorry.

The Heart of the Matter – Don Henley

I really thought this song was called “Forgiveness” until just now when I Googled it to find the video. Who cares. Garbage.

I Want to Be Rich – Calloway

I may’ve learned a little American Sign Language through Girl Scouts and private study and then taught myself how to sign this entire song for fun… just in case you were wondering what my personal brand was during this time in my life.

Would I Lie to You – Charles & Eddie

I keep finding these and thinking “Oh WAAAAOOWW… THIS one has to be the worst…” until I get to the next one on my list, but honestly, this one is Top 3. I don’t usually believe in superlatives, but this song makes me blush and cringe in a way I’m not comfortable with.

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane or anybody else who covers it

And to answer the follow-up question: No, none of the covers of this are good, either.

Peter Cetera’s Varied Number-One-Ranked Experiments in Increasingly Mind-Numbing Sounds

Remember that thing I said about our parents aging stars of yore? Yeeeaahh…

Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting

It’s all just starting to sound the same, right?

Right Here Right Now – Jesus Jones


That Springsteen Song from Jerry Maguire

Maaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-wuh!!!!

HONORABLE MENTION: I Know – Dionne Farris

Alright, this wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, either. It was a track that was a little more of what the adults would embarrassingly dub “funky”, but was pretty tame and middle-of-the-road by all accounts. I’m including it on this list because it seems to be THE SONG we all heard repeatedly and we all knew and when we sang along to it when it was on the radio at any given moment for about 2 years, our moms didn’t give us a hard time about it. Kind of like Des’ree but without a memorable voice.

…And yes, I DID have that one Des’ree album on cassette. And I DID listen to it when I went for a rollerblading cardio session every day during the summer… when I wasn’t listening to the “Batman Forever” soundtrack.

Never Forget

90’s Songs You Probably Forgot: Pt 1 & 2

So, recently I’ve just started putting up a daily musical greeting as a Facebook status update and the week has been a little brighter as I’ve been delving back into my personal memory archives and pulling out the tunes that embellished an era. At the moment, the theme is mid-90’s r&b and, frankly, I could go on forever but then I’d start looking like one of those white kids they make fun of on StuffWhitePeopleLike.com under the “Black People Music that Black People Don’t Even Like Anymore” category. So I’m sticking to a few that changed things for me and then leaving it at that. I know I’m being mainstream and just scratching the surface; this isn’t an art exhibition after years of in depth research – it’s just me, posting slightly-forgotten videos to the delight of a few friends. Nothing serious.


so without further rambling ado, I give you the

This installment is “Decent but forgettable alt-rock songs you’ll never think of right off”

The first section is “Little-Known Chick Rock tracks that weren’t terrible/pretentious.”
Letters to Cleo “Here and Now”
Love it. I just think it embodies the 1990’s as a girl. Completely

Anouk “Nobody’s Wife”
Say what you want about Alanis, Anouk was just as perfect to scream along to and I sure did. I still do even though the lyrics don’t really apply anymore… but they did for a while. (Also, that video had to cost $10 at most. It’s TERRIBLE.)


JoyDrop “Beautiful”
Oh God, I lived for this song (really more in 2000 but it counts) and all the symbolism it had in my deep, tortured adolescent existence.
… anyway.
I liked it. I think it’s powerful and it speaks to every girl and it helped move me forward, even a little.

Luscious Jackson “Naked Eye”
I don’t know any of the words except the chorus but she’s still magic. And I soooo wanted that haaaiir.

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Jill Sobule “I Kissed a Girl
Everyone was wigging out about Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and I was kinda appalled because that song was SO 15 years ago. Stupid kids thinking they’re all radical and original…

Bif Naked “Moment of Weakness”
It’s obvious she wanted to be Gwen but this song was still pretty great


And then this section is “Pop-ish Dude Alt Rock Songs You’re Probably Going to go “AAwww!! I forgot this one!!” About Even if it’s Terrible”

Placebo “Pure Morning”
It’s beautiful. It’s poignant. The video will cover you in chills. I still listen to it when I need to conjure a powerful mood.

(Embedding disabled but you HHAAAVE to watch it. You really do. It’s beautiful.)

Reef “Place Your Hands”
Try not to sing and jump along the second time you listen to it. Try. Also, the jumping and splashy water effects are pretty rad, too.

Spacehog “In the Meantime”
Love. Lovelove. It’s part of the 90’s canon as far as I’m concerned. It moves my heart. It makes me want to dance and love people. I love it. Have I mentioned that?

New Radicals “You Get What You Give
I’m glad they made their money and got out of the game before it stunted them; that’s admirable. I saw them open for the Goo Goo Dolls and they were tons of fun. Highly recommended.

Local H “Down to the Floor”

It’s like they were allllmost sad enough to be Grunge but noooott quite. I think that’s what I liked about them, actually. Also, I’ll take any reason to scream “COPACETIC!!”

White Town “Your Woman”
Nobody had any idea what the song was about and nobody really figured anything out from the video. But it’s still got an amazing sound.

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Tripping Daisy “I Gotta Girl”
I’ll be shocked if anyone can remember this one. Because it’s trippy.

Harvey Danger “Flagpole Sittah”
Remember when everyone thought they were going to be the new hot shit like Supersonic  or Eve 6 (ugh…) or Marcy Playground (why they had a hit was beyond me) and, instead they only got into a preview for some Katie Holmes movie and then they were out?

(Not the actual video but is the actual song)

Barenaked Ladies “Brian Wilson”
Before “stunt” came out, they were actually a fantastically genius college-y band (I normally don’t even like college-y) whose songs were amazing and whose concerts were the funniest damned things I’d ever been to. And LISTEN to that jam session/piano solo at the end. Daaaaaamn. (If you gt a chance, listen to their “Rock Spectacle” album. It’s pretty amazing.)

~ Dishwalla “Counting Blue Cars”
With sounds and lyrics like this I really thought we’d be watching them for a while. Ah well. Lines from this song are still among my favorite lyrics. (Also, this video might be THE MOST 90’s of the ones posted here.)

~Primitive Radio Gods “Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth with Money in my Hand”
I just wanted to meet the soul brother wailing in the background; screw that wussy lead singer.

~Cowboy Mouth “Jenny Says”

NEVER a more energetic band to watch. Music = meh. Concerts – YYYYYYYYEAAAAAHHH!

~ Soul Coughing “Circles”
I laughed at every one of my friends who bought this terrible album. Because if this was the best song they could pick from the list, that’s bad. Bad bad.

(Not actual video. And not really worth your time.)

~ Whitest Kids You Know “Freak of the Week”

It never “spoke” to me or anything. In fact, I didn’t even really like it. But I thought about it and did the “Awww” thing anyway. So here we are.

~ The Verve Pipe “Freshmen”

Don’t act like you don’t remember. I actually saw them in concert the summer that that song was huge. They had a couple good ones but they all pretty much sounded the same. So it goes…

~ Shawn Mullins “Lullabye”
I’m not going to say I loved it and I always thought the singer was whoa pretentious, but my heart hurt for the girl in the song for some reason and I may just always remember that. Or equate it with that time of my life. Or something.

~ Fastball “The Way”
I’m not a fan but my hubs loved them, so this is for him.

~ Caroline’s Spine “Attention Please”
Anybody remember this? Anybody?
This is not the official vid ’cause I couldn’t find it. They might’ve been that small of a band

~ Sister Hazel “All For You”
This may belong in the “Mediocre 90’s music” category but, if Soul Coughing made this list, then so does this one:

And, finally,

~ The Verve “Bittersweet Symphony”
Because we all know we enjoyed it but it still comes up too much in pretention to be sincerely appreciated.

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