From someone who listened to Christian music in the 90s.
When I reflect back on my formative years, there are some egregious gaps brought on by my Christian upbringing. I never watched The Simpsons (it mocks church and traditional families), Scooby Doo (not sure if it was because of the supernatural stuff – or because by the end of every episode the supernatural was exposed as just being a guy in a mask…) and pretty much all pop music, unless P.O.D. counts (it doesn’t).
As university (and critical thought) has a tendency to do, my religion was exposed and eroded somewhere around the age of 20 and so when it came to popular music I found myself playing catch up.
I was caught out at parties or on roadtrips when 90s classics would blast from the speaker–I would greet them with a blank expression, “Smells Like Teen Spirit? Never heard of them.”
I quickly learnt that clarifying your lack of musical knowledge with a brief account of your Christian upbringing is not the most digestible of party conversation topics – so for a time I simply pretended I was so alternative that I had avoided 90s pop music by choice. Gradually I started to acquire knowledge about 90s music, I would borrow anecdotes and the favourite 90s tunes of my friends and one hit wonder by one hit wonder I was able to create a 90s music-listening fiction which has helped me cover up a decade spent listening to DC Talk’s Jesus Freaks on repeat.
Here are my top 10 90s song that I definitely didn’t hear in the 90s.
When this song comes on at a party, there is a kind of summoning of white twenty-something males; who reflect nostalgically on those rebellious teenage years when they sat inexplicably angry in their comfortable bedrooms listening to cuss-words through their headphones.
For 90s credibility I’ll say “I saw them in 2008,” to my fellow listener – who will then accept me. But what I neglect to tell them is that I heard this song for the first time in that pit at Big Day Out. I caught on quickly enough… “FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME! WHY AM I SO ANGRY?”
When Ironic comes on, for 90s credibility I’ll say something like “this whole album is actually really good” just so that everyone knows I’m familiar with the 90s. I’ve also found that Alanis Morissette is a good opportunity to win back any ladies who may have been put off by your cringe-inducing and predictable jump-along to the aforementioned Killing In The Name Of.
I’ve been known to utter the words “This is a perfect pop song.” I’ve been less known to utter the words “I heard it for the first time in 2009 when Ace Enders covered it.” For more 90s credibility I will also talk about how the Rolling Stones get all the royalties for this tune after suing The Verve. Because I was there. In the 90s. When it happened. Please believe me.
My total lack of 90s music knowledge publicly embarrassed me in 2009 when Wonderwall came on and I uttered the words “Is this a cover of that Ryan Adams song?” People honestly thought I was being facetious – snubbing the Oasis classic, whilst also dropping my knowledge of the alternative Ryan Adams. Whilst in truth I really had gone that long without hearing the campfire-shit-hit. For 90s credibility I will intentionally mess up the verses, much like Daryl Brathwaites’ Horses – you’re only meant to know the chorus, knowing the lyrics to the verses would be nearly as awkward as being able to rap Jesus is Still Alright from start to finish (ask me to do it and be both impressed and filled with pity all at once).
When I was 15 I sang this song at my school assembly. So it’s an outlier in my 90s-music-listening-legacy that I hang to like the Liberal party cling to gun control as an example of their progressive agenda. In the event that I’m chatting to an international who hasn’t heard of Grinspoon, I can substitute with Unwritten Law – Lonesome for further 90s credibility.
This song also exposes my lack of 90s movie knowledge. Whilst today I refer to Two Hands as my favourite Aussie film; “Early Heath Ledger, like an aussie twist on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, I’m less forward in revealing that I only watched it for the first time four years ago and that was also the first time I embraced the music of Powderfinger. Truth be told when both the movie & song came out in 1999, it was the same year that I watched Notting Hill without my parents permission and offered a sobbing apology “I’m. So. Sorry. I. Thought. It. Was. PG.”
Blink were my gateway drug, but while most of peers grew up laughing and listening to their brand of toilet-humour and pop-punk, I steered clear of their crude tunes as the good god-fearing Christian I was.
But when I bought Take Off My Pants and Jacket as an act of rebellion one Sunday afternoon after skipping church, their unholy tunes got in my veins and I’ve been an addict ever since. For extra 90s credibility I will posit the question of who defined pop-punk more in 90s-00s: Green Day or Blink.
The fact that I’ve uttered the words “this song is the 90s” about a song that came out in 2000 should underline just how little 90s credibility I have.
My favourite Christian Band cited Foo Fighters as an influence, which I saw as God’s permission to have a listen. Despite Best of You being the first song of theirs I heard, for 90s credibility I’ll omit that info and tell you that Everlong is one of my favourite 90s tunes and The Colour and the Shape is my favourite album.
I probably play this song as much now as someone who heard it for the first time when it came out in 1997. It’s as catchy a tune as I’ve come across in my 90s research. For additional 90s credibility when Absolutely (Story of a Girl) comes on the radio I’ll say “This really sounds like it could be a Third Eye Blind song, but I know it’s not because I’m very familiar with the 90s band Third Eye Blind, because I was there in the 90s and I listened to 90s pop music, because I’m a normal person… please accept me.”