Many things in my life tend to gather dust. Despite telling myself that I will use kitchen gadget or piece of exercise equipment, it inevitably ends up abandoned in some corner of my apartment.
My life has been weird for the past year. I uprooted myself and moved to a new area for a job opportunity in January, but then real life walloped me right in the face. I suffered some major personal losses, as well as a nearly debilitating bout of severe anemia that has hospitalized me twice since March – both times just barely avoiding a blood transfusion. I admit it; I am tired. I am bone-weary. I made some really good decisions and some really bad decisions in 2015 (although, interestingly, the best decision would not have been possible without the worst decision), and I am trying to maintain a degree of optimism that 2016 won’t hit me as hard.
Even though the illness and other issues have knocked me almost down and out, I still have good moments. During those moments, I tend to go through my apartment and find some dusty thing, wipe it off, and put it back to use. One time it was a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five that I haven’t read in years. I also dusted off a video game and took it for another spin. I even cleaned off my hand mixer and made a home-cooked meal for the first time in ages. Even though it has come dangerously close to a lost cause, I am now going to dust off this blog and see what I can make of it.
It’s Been Twenty Years Already?!
I might be a baby of the eighties, but I am a child of the nineties. I had just turned two when we went into 1990. That decade was full of pop culture that still holds a special place in my heart – especially the music. All of it – the grunge, the hip-hop, the nu-metal, the Jazzercise dance music, the silly pop.
Skipping forward a few years, I got a LiveJournal in mid-2002. It was back when you had to have a code to join, and I had been trying for ages to snag one. My LiveJournal was full of exactly what you would expect from a melodramatic 14 year old in the transition from middle school to high school – whining about my parents, angsting over friend fights, and frequently typing out, “MUSIC = LIFE!”. I have locked it down so the general public cannot stumble upon it and relive my embarrassing teen years, but I kept it up there to occasionally revisit and reflect on how much time has passed. I cannot believe it has been nearly 14 years since I started that silly little online journal.
Thinking about that got me further down the “It’s been how long??” rabbit hole. This is my 10-year high school reunion year. How have I been out of high school for 10 years? How was 2006 a whole decade ago? I am still thinking the nineties were 10 years ago!
All of this is to say that 1996 was 20 freaking years ago. The albums that came out in 1996 are just a year shy of being able to drink. If these albums were human, they might be in college, or married, or still living at home smoking cigarettes and sneaking their parents’ booze until they are old enough to buy their own.
So, join me as I marvel at the fact that these albums will be turning 20 at some point this year. All information and photos were gathered from Wikipedia (so while I hope the release date information is accurate, it may be off a bit), and all music videos are from YouTube. I chose to focus on the radio singles since that is how I was introduced to all of these albums, but there are plenty of good songs that were not released as singles. Despite my parents’ best effort, I went out of my way to listen to music with those Parental Advisory stickers, so be aware that some of these songs posted have some language. Enjoy feeling old!
Fugees – The Score – February 13, 1996
Oh, man, I was ALL ABOUT this album. I was so in love with their Roberta Flack cover “Killing Me Softly.” I remember being obsessed and scouring a flea market in Georgia until I found the single version of the song and listening to it on repeat.
Goldfinger – Goldfinger – February 27, 1996
Ahh, the good old ska revitalization of the mid-nineties. It took me a few years after the album came out to really get into them, but I eventually saw them in concert a few years later.
The Verve Pipe – Villians – March 26, 1996
I remember staying with my family in Georgia and falling asleep with the radio on. They would play “The Freshman” once an hour or so, and I would wake up out of a dead sleep every time and listen to it rapturously. It seemed like such a melancholy song that 8 year old me didn’t fully understand, but I loved it anyway. I still love that song.
Butthole Surfers – Electriclarryland – April 2, 1996
“They were all in love with dyin’, they were drinking from a fountain/That was pourin’ like an avalanche comin’ down the mountain.” Along with being highly amused by the band name and the weird cover art, I really liked the radio single “Pepper.”
Local H – As Good As Dead – April 16, 1996
I am noticing a pattern of picking albums that have that one powerful radio single that struck me as really important at the time, and this is another one of those. I always got a kick out of “High-Fiving MF,” but my favorite from this album was definitely “Bound for the Floor.” It is almost certainly the reason I randomly throw “Keep it copacetic!” into conversations every now and then.
Toni Braxton – Secrets – June 18, 1996
I remember loving the video from “Un-Break My Heart” and thinking her love interest in it was really attractive. I just rewatched the video for the first time in yeeeears, and I can’t believe I am just now realizing that was Tyson Beckford. That gorgeous man has not aged a day in the nearly 20 years since this video came out!
Fiona Apple – Tidal – July 23, 1996
Another reoccurring theme I am noticing as I look up all of these albums is that most of them have songs that I probably should not have been belting out at 8/9 years old. I clearly remember watching MTV on the tiny TV in my dad’s office the lawn equipment store he owned. The “Criminal” video sticks out in my memory. I felt slightly scandalized watching Fiona Apple strip and getting sexy with a guy in the bathtub, but damn I love this song.
Sublime – Sublime – July 20, 1996
Sadly, lead singer Bradley Nowell died of a heroin overdose a few months before the release of this album. The album went on to be massively successful despite not having a band to promote it (they disbanded after Nowell’s death though they eventually reformed with a new singer). It has a lot of great tracks, and I associate this album strongly with memories of hanging out at the oceanfront in my hometown.
Reel Big Fish – Turn the Radio Off – August 13, 1996
Here is another one of those mid-nineties ska bands that I loved. I was going to post the video for “Beer” since I love that song, but looking at their Wikipedia, it looks like that song was released on an earlier album as well? Oh well, “Sell Out” was also a really fun single.
Aaliyah – One in a Million – August 26, 1996
Aaliyah was a great talent. She was just 17 when this album full of bops came out. I mostly remember her from the cinematic masterpiece Queen of the Damned (I unironically loved that film when it came out; I see how terrible it is now but I still maintain that it has a great soundtrack) and her tragic death in 2001. I sometimes wonder if how much more her career would have skyrocketed had she lived.
Jamiroquai – Travelling Without Moving – September 9, 1996
Okay, so initially I wasn’t going to include this one. That ’96 release date is for the UK; it wasn’t released in the US until early 1997. After watching the “Virtual Insanity” video I decided to throw caution to the wind and count it anyway. God, that is a fun video. When it first came out, I desperately wanted to find a room with a moving floor so I could reenact the video.
Tool – Ænima – September 17, 1996
Beginning in the latter half of the nineties and going well into the noughties, I fancied myself a hard rocker. Most of what I listened to was actually that growling, screaming nu-metal, but I really loved Tool. This is such a good album. Tool is great to listen to in the car (especially if you are stuck in traffic and need to crank up some loud music and fume over the state of things). Plus, they have really fascinating videos.
Snoop Doggy Dogg – Tha Doggfather – November 12, 1996
He has been Snoopzilla, Snoop Dogg, and, more recently, Snoop Lion, but Snoop Doggy Dogg is how I remember him best. I so badly want to hang out with him for a day to see if he is as interesting and funny as his public persona indicates.
There were tons other albums I wanted to include that would have made the post stretch on forever, so here are some honorable mentions with a link to the music video for the most popular single:
Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Come Find Yourelf – February 20, 1996 – Featuring “Scooby Snacks”
Weird Al Yankovic – Bad Hair Day – March 12, 1996 – Featuring “Amish Paradise”
Stone Temple Pilots – Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop – March 26, 1996 – Featuring “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart”
Rage Against the Machine – Evil Empire – April 16, 1996 – Featuring “Bulls on Parade”
Dave Matthews Band – Crash – April 30, 1996 – Featuring “Crash Into Me”
The Wallflowers – Bringing Down the Horse – May 21, 1996 – Featuring “One Headlight”
Squirrel Nut Zippers – Hot – June 4, 1996 – Featuring “Hell”
Beck – Odelay – June 18, 1996 – Featuring “Where It’s At”
Tonic – Lemon Parade – July 16, 1996 – Featuring “If You Could Only See”
A Tribe Called Quest – Beats, Rhymes and Life – July 30, 1996 – Featuring “1nce Again”
OutKast – ATLiens – August 27, 1996 – Featuring “Elevators (Me & You)”
Broadway cast of Rent – Rent: Original Broadway Cast Recording – August 27, 1996 – Featuring “Seasons of Love”
Sheryl Crow – Sheryl Crow – September 1, 1996 – Featuring “If It Makes You Happy”
Cake – Fashion Nugget – September 17, 1996 – Featuring “The Distance”
Xzibit – At the Speed of Life – October 1, 1996 – Featuring “Paparazzi”
Matchbox 20 – Yourself or Someone Like You – October 1, 1996 – Featuring “3 A.M.”
Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar – October 8, 1996 – Featuring “The Beautiful People”
Ginuwine – Ginuwine…the Bachelor – October 8, 1996 – Featuring “Pony”
Counting Crows – Recovering the Satellites – October 14, 1996 – Featuring “A Long December”
Korn – Life is Peachy – October 15, 1996 – Featuring “A.D.I.D.A.S.”
Paula Cole – This Fire – October 15, 1996 – Featuring “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?”
Whew! That is only scratching the surface of the music that is celebrating its 20th birthday this year. I still struggle to comprehend that 1996 was 20 years ago. It sometimes feels like yesterday. If you’ve actually made it all the way through my trip down Nostalgia Lane, what do you think? Do you still jam to any of these songs? Do you have any other artists that you would add?