We return once more to the article graveyard made so infamous from the 1995 Playlist; the place where ideas must go to rest because a month has only so many days and a writer only so much time.
Admittedly, some of these carefully constructed playlists are just that—a chance to indulge in a bit of fun (or eye rolling) without verbosity or petty nostalgia to interfere. No one needs 500 words about Ace of Base and the [in]significance of The Sign. Fewer still would want to rehash Haddaway’s biggest hit and its lasting impact on pop culture. There are more articles and books imaginable from the prospect of 30-year old males who once devoured hip-hop of all flavors only to now denounce the genre or to blindly wonder what happened (short answer: nothing happened except old age and the knowing comfort of tailored clothing).
By now you’re likely tired of being showered by one man’s sharp memory and Alex Trebek complex. You want music, so you get music. Loads of it; if you don’t find it here, you’ll find it in the AWR: 1993 Playlist. It’s a compendium of songs that deserve your added attention; one last arching soundtrack to five weeks of in-depth articles and nascent ramblings. I’ve been accused of not being a worthy music critic so maybe I’ve said too much (perhaps not enough)?
There’s much to pour over, these last five weeks but a mere glimpse. Underground scenes and DIY zines forgotten and untouched by the cupped hand of the internet. They still exist, tucked outside of the peripheral and that’s where they should stay awaiting your own investigation.
Below is the final gateway to 1993. A cornucopia of divvied playlists by genre, subject matter and Alicia Silverstone infatuation. Devour it. Obsess over it. Your youth is gone but you can still grab a piece of it. You’ve waited 20 years…
AWR Companion 1993 (Spotify Playlist)
Rock and Roll Will Never Die
Alternative music begins to control the airwaves. Radio stations begin switching formats to take on the influx of new bands and sounds, turning music into a smokestack producing the latest and greatest, if only for a moment. But in the midst of distortion, a few breakouts emerge.
Nirvana – “Heart-Shaped Box” [In Utero; DGC]
Lenny Kravitz – “Are You Gonna Go My Way” [Are You Gonna Go My Way; Virgin]
The Breeders – “Cannonball” [Last Splash; Elektra]
Radiohead – “Creep” [Pablo Honey; Capitol]
Collective Soul – “Shine” [Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid; Atlantic]
Counting Crows – “Mr. Jones” [August and Everything After; Geffen]
Pearl Jam – “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town” [Vs.; Epic]
Tool – “Sober” [Undertow; Zoo Entertainment]
Candlebox – “Far Behind” [Candlebox; Maverick]
Cracker – “Low” [Kerosene Hat; Virgin]
Porno for Pyros – “Pets” [Porno for Pyros; Warner Bros.]
Crash Test Dummies – “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” [God Shuffled His Feet; Arista]
Smashing Pumpkins – ”Today” [Siamese Dream; Virgin]
Red Hot Chili Peppers – ”Soul to Squeeze” [Coneheads OST; Warner Bros.]
Hip Hop Anthems
1993 marked the beginning of rap becoming a white, suburban commodity beyond the few exceptions that occasionally charted. More so, the time hip-hop began to expand its cultural boundaries and subject matter, we saw it embracing more from the street than just image and violence.
Onyx – “Slam” [Bacdafucup; Def Jam]
Digable Planets – “Rebirth of Slick” [Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space); Pendulum]
A Tribe Called Quest – ”Oh My God” [Midnight Marauders; Jive]
Queen Latifah – “U.N.I.T.Y.” [Black Reign; Motown]
De La Soul – ”Ego Trippin’ (Part II)” [Buhloone Mindstate; Tommy Boy]
Wu-Tang Clan – ”Protect Ya Neck” [Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers); Loud/RCA]
Cypress Hill – “Insane in the Brain” [Black Sunday; Ruffhouse]
Naughty By Nature – “Hip Hop Hooray” [19 Naughty III; Tommy Boy]
Parents paid for kids to work at university radio and spin these records, some experiencing greater success than others but largely the successes of these songs were built on grassroots across American campuses.
Dinosaur Jr. – “Out There” [Where You Been; Reprise]
Liz Phair – ”Never Said” [Exile in Guyville; Matador]
The Lemonheads – “Into Your Arms” [Come On Feel the Lemonheads; Atlantic]
Afghan Whigs – “Gentlemen” [Gentlemen; Elektra]
Belly – ”Feed the Tree” [Star; Reprise]
Frank Black – “Los Angeles” [Frank Black; Elektra]
The Odds – ”Heterosexual Man” [Bedbugs; Zoo Entertainment]
Pulp – ”Babies” [Razzmatazz; Gift]
Bjork – “Human Behavior” [Debut; Elektra]
Primus – “My Name is Mud” [Pork Soda; Interscope]
The Flaming Lips – “She Don’t Use Jelly” [Transmissions from the Satellite Heart; Warner Bros.]
Paw – “Jessie” [Dragline; A&M]
The Posies – “Dream All Day” [Frosting on the Beater; DGC]
Letters to Cleo – “Here and Now” [Aurora Gory Alice; Cherrydisc]
Dig – “Believe” [Dig; MCA]
Green Jelly – “Three Little Pigs” [Cereal Killer Soundtrack; Zoo Entertainment]
Up in the Club
So overplayed they’re still annoying 20 years later. Some of them still good, most bad but worth the scorn if you hit the floor at your kid’s school dance when the paunchy DJ plays it as a joke.
Ace of Base – “The Sign” [The Sign; Arista]
Janet Jackson – “If” [Janet.; Virgin]
Tag Team – “Whoomp! (There It Is)” [Whoomp! (There It Is); Life]
Haddaway – “What is Love” [Haddaway; Arista]
Us3 – “Cantaloop” [Hand on the Torch; Blue Note]
Snow – “Informer” [12 Inches of Snow; EastWest]
Talk About Pop Music
The music of the smitten. You know you curled up, dreamt of your crush and wished you were serenaded by these songs as you tightly held hands. Tightly!
Mariah Carey – “Dreamlover” [Music Box; Columbia]
Sarah McLachlan – “Possession” [Fumbling Towards Ecstasy; Arista]
Sheryl Crow – ”Strong Enough” [Tuesday Night Music Club; A&M]
P.M. Dawn – “Looking Through Patient Eyes” [The Bliss Album…?; Gee Street]
Toni Braxton – “Another Sad Love Song” [Toni Braxton; LaFace]
The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” [Benny & Joon OST/Sunshine of Leith; RCA/Chrysalis]
Word of Mouth
The albums you stole from siblings, cousins and record stores. You likely wore too much black and your clothes were a few sizes too big, but you still wish you had those combat boots and the original vinyl pressings of these. Maybe you faintly remember these from late night viewings of Beavis and Butthead.
Juliana Hatfield Three – “My Sister” [Become What You Are; Atlantic]
Polvo – ”Tilebreaker” [Today’s Active Lifestyles; Merge]
Teenage Fanclub – ”Hang On” [Thirteen; DGC]
Hum – “Iron Clad Lou” [Electra 2000; Martian Go Home]
Melvins – “Goin’ Blind” [Houdini; Atlantic]
P.J. Harvey – “50 Foot Queenie” [Rid of Me; Island]
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Afro” [Extra Width; Matador]
Grant Lee Buffalo – “Fuzzy” [Fuzzy; Slash]
Tsunami – “Water’s Edge” [Deep End; Simple Machines]
Buffalo Tom – “Sodajerk” [Big Red Letter Day; Blanco y Negro]
Archers of Loaf – “Web in Front” [The Loaf’s Revenge; Alias]
Noise Addict – “Wish I Was Him” [Noise Addict Vs. Silverchair; Fellaheen]
Catherine Wheel – “Crank” [Chrome; Fontana]
Alicia Silverstone Trilogy
Three videos that propelled Silverstone to superstardom and transformed the unknown actress into a sex symbol (along with Steven Tyler’s own daughter, Liv). Get a Grip and these videos marked Aerosmith’s most successful commercial period. Even if you hate Aerosmith (*raises hand*), to deny the existence of the band and the impact therein would be ignorant.
Clinging to Hope
Music from the nether decades that somehow inserted itself into mainstream consciousness; some may call it a soft rock rebellion or the beginning of musical irony. See also: videos VH1 were still playing a decade later.
U2 – “Numb” [Zooropa; Island]
Coverdale/Page – “Pride & Joy” [Coverdale/Page; Geffen]
Bryan Adams – “Please Forgive Me” [So Far So Good; A&M]
Sting – “If I Ever Lose My Faith” [Ten Summoner’s Tales; A&M]
Billy Joel – “The River of Dreams” [River of Dreams; Sony]
Tears for Fears – “Break it Down Again” [Elemental; Mercury]
The Cut-Out Bin
Congratulations! If you made it this far, you really love reminiscing about 1993 and digging through bargain bins. As it turns out, we have the weirdest and wildest just for you at a fraction of unit cost. Don’t mind the little slit in the spine or the missing barcode, it’s all legit.
Boredoms – “Heeba” [Pop Tatari; Reprise]
Slowdive – “Alison” [Souvlaki; Creation]
Mercury Rev – “Something for Joey” [Boces; Warner Bros.]
Red House Painters – “Mistress” [Red House Painters (Rollercoaster); 4AD]
Butthole Surfers – “Who Was in My Room Last Night” [Independent Worm Saloon; Capitol]
Ass Ponys – ”Ballpeen” [Grim; Safe House]
Cell – “Tundra” [Slo*Blo; DGC]
Pond – “Spots” [Pond; Sub Pop]
Swervedriver – “Duel” [Mezcal Head; A&M]
Gigolo Aunts – “Bloom” [Full On Bloom; Alias]
The Dambuilders – “Smell” [Islington Porn Tapes; Cuacha]
Idaho – “God’s Green Earth” [Year After Year; Caroline]