Worst Years In Music: 1996

24 Jun

Worst Years In Music: 1996
1996. Ten years ago. Holy crap. That’s all I have to say.

Actually, that’s not all I have to say, because I’ve got a big list of songs I need to be all snarky about. But, damn. It may not have been the worst year in music ever, but it was certainly the oddest. The great unifying theme of the 1990s may very well turn out to be the explosion and subsequent mainstreaming of “alternative” forms of art, commerce, and communication – where the uncommon became common. If that turns out to be the case, then 1996 was probably the flashpoint of that whole… thing.

Anyway, here’s my take on the top 99 or so songs of that crazy, crazy time, when Vittorino was out of town and his two friends… were sooooo fine.

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99. Only Wanna Be With You, Hootie and The Blowfish

1996 was all about the Hootie. Friends was the number one show. Independence Day was the number one movie. And Darius “BK Bacon Cheddar Ranch” Rucker may be wearing a flannel shirt, but it’s okay, ‘cuz it’s buttoned up and tucked in. The video has them goofing around on a basketball court, for heaven’s sakes – how Richard Marx is that? You could almost hear the champagne corks popping at Boring HQ.

96. I Got Id / Long Road, Pearl Jam

…or the Merkin Ball single, as the Ten Club kids call it. “I Got Id” is a cast-off from the Mirror Ball sessions, which is why it’s got Neil Young playing the super-trebly rhythm guitar part (Mirror Ball was the album Neil recorded with Vedder and Co.) and, as a result, it doesn’t sound like anything else Pearl Jam has ever written. “Long Road” sort of sounds like No Code era Pearl Jam, with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan singing a back up part that sounds like it was sung by someone named Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Tim Robbins used it in the opening credits of Dead Man Walking, which means that come Oscar time, Susan Sarandon walked down the aisle to pick up her Best Actress award to Bill Conti’s orchestral arrangement of a Pearl Jam song. I always kind of liked that.

94. Beautiful Life, Ace Of Base

Dennis Miller, before he was a neo-con stooge, once referred to Ace Of Base as ABBA with better hair, which is way more than I have to say about Ace of Base.

92. Until It Sleeps, Metallica

So, so, wait… Hootie, Pearl Jam, Ace Of Base…. Metallica? Yeah, that sums up the truly schizophrenic nature of the charts in the mid-90s. Grunge had pretty much run its course, and the Boy Bands were still playing the mall circuit, so people didn’t really know what to do with themselves. It wasn’t uncommon to flip through someone’s CD book at a party and find Marilyn Manson next to the Forrest Gump soundtrack next to TLC. 1996 may have been the last time that pop music wasn’t fragmented into tiny categories. This is because in 1996, everyone’s computer sucked and Shawn “Napster” Fanning was just a geek with a dream.

Speaking of which: Metallica.

“Until It Sleeps” was on an album called Load, which started the big Metallica backlash. Metal’s biggest band shocked their fans and the world by cutting their hair and deciding to write tighter songs. This led Alice In Chains to write “Friends don’t let friends get Friends haircuts” on their guitars when they played MTV’s Unplugged, and I’m sure some stupid hesher kid somewhere slit his wrists. A lot of people still hate them for this. I know the metal heads I hung out with in high school who requested “Master Of Puppets” at the dances and formed headbanging circles found it pretty traumatizing. I think Matt Van Voorhees cried. Seeing James Hetfield in a suit was like seeing Fred Savage as a stoned chronic masturbator in “The Rules Of Attraction”; it’s so hard for your brain to process that you’re not sure it ever really happened. But, honestly, while Metallca stopped writing symphonies like “One” or metal-up-your-ass bangers like “Battery”, their songwriting skills generally improved. Until “St. Anger”, that is. No one knows what the hell that was about.

88. My Boo, Ghost Town Dj’s

79. I Want To Come Over, Melissa Etheridge

I met a girl named Natasha at Smart Socially Awkward Kid Camp (i.e. Explo) during the summer of 1996. She could sing like Lea Salonga and looked like Rachel Leigh Cook in She’s All That. Suffice to say, I loved her. After camp ended, she went home to New Jersey and we used to ring up massive phone bills singing this song to each other. I was afraid to define the relationship. She was getting annoyed at my lack of commitment. Around the time I decided I wanted to ask her to prom, she started dating this kid named Tony. Their song was “Secret Garden” from Jerry goddamned Maguire.

78. Jealousy, Natalie Merchant

Okay, remember how I was saying that Belinda Carlisle has the world’s most beautiful voice? Like, my ears are just tuned in such a way that I love hearing her sing?

Well, back in 1996, everyone seemed to be in love with Natalie Merchant. 90% of my friends owned Tigerlily. (This is because 90% of my friends were white.) I, myself, was always quite fond of her work with 10,000 Maniacs – I love “Because The Night”, I love “What’s The Matter Here?”, and I really love their cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” But, for some reason, I can’t stand Natalie’s solo stuff. Her voice enters my ear and sends a direct signal to my brain that it’s time for a nap.

76. As I Lay Me Down, Sophie B. Hawkins

Sophie B. Hawkins has the distinction of having been a one hit wonder twice – with “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” back in 1992, and with this breathy little ditty. Bill Clinton won the election in both ’92 and ’96. Coincidence? I think not.

68. Just A Girl, No Doubt

Gwen Stefani was, is, and always shall be, third-wave feminism personified. She’s glam yet tough. She likes being a girl, but bemoans her gender’s treatment at the hands of the patriarchy. Also, she’s wicked hot. And, at the time, a lot of us thought that she single-handedly invented Ska.

67. Closer To Free, BodeansOh, man, Party Of Five. Why that show took off and My So-Called Life didn’t, I’ll never understand. It pretty much proves my thesis, though, that 1996 was the year that Popular Culture took Alternative Culture, sanded off the rough edges, and repackaged it for mass-consumption. Like MSCL, Party Of Five was a prime time teen angst drama, but where the former reveled in bittersweet joy and moral ambiguity, the latter heaped on the melodrama. The parents were dead. The older brother had to raise all four kids on his own, including the newborn baby. His younger brother was a teenaged alcoholic. His sister got sexually harrassed by her teacher. They might lose the restaurant. CHARLIE’S GIRLFRIEND MIGHT LOSE THE BABY!! AAAAAAAAAAAIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!


Not my favorite show, PO5.

Anyway, jangly guitar-pop TV theme songs storming the charts was definitely a mid-90s phenomenon, and until someone proves otherwise, I’ll stand by the theory that the Bodeans and the Rembrandts were actually the same band.

66. Theme From Mission: Impossible, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen

Nowadays, any schlub with GarageBand can teach himself to be Trent Reznor in a matter of minutes, but back in the good old days we thought remixes were pretty cool. Then again, we also thought Tom Cruise was sane and that Scientology was something harmless Kirstie Alley did in between making crappy movies with Tim Allen. I had the CD single for this track, and I played this so much during the summer of ’96 that everyone around me got thoroughly sick of it. It was also the only time anyone ever paid attention to the other two guys from U2, although I probably wouldn’t have realised they were behind it if not for this really annoying kid at the aforementioned camp. He was so into U2 he literally did not listen to anything else. I always wondered how he dealt with Discotheque.

65. Children, Robert Miles

Not only were remixes really cool once, but so was techno in general. There was this whole rave subculture where kids went to fields and took drugs that made them want to touch strangers and do silly things with glowsticks and pacifiers. Nowadays, they just abuse prescription meds and post blurry pictures of themselves on the internet. I really can’t tell which is goofier.

Techno was supposed to be the next big mainstream thing, which I would have been okay with, because it certainly beat what actually did come next. Unfortunately, techno was too repetitive, too weird, and too created-by-ugly-people, so nowadays, the only rave anthems you hear are in car commercials. Every so often, though, a really great tune blipped its way through, and “Children” is one of them. The repeating piano riff in Robert Miles’ ode to dead rave kids (true) is beautiful enough to justify the fact that you hear it roughly 1,947,235 times over the course of the seven minute song.

64. Tonite’s Tha Night, Kris Kross

This was around the time that Kris Kross decided to convince us that they were “gangsta’.” This was not, in fact, the case.

60. Hook, Blues Traveler

The comedian Rob Pavaronian has a great routine where he talks about how much he hates Pachabel’s Canon in D, but it’s haunting him because every song he likes follows the same chord progression. The most egregious example? “Hook” by Blues Traveler.

For shame, John Popper. Ripping off a 400-year dead baroque composer. The nerve. We’re on to you, fat man*.

(*Editor’s note: as of 2002 or so, John Popper no longer tubby.)

56. Wonderwall, Oasis

Depending on your point of view, Oasis were either in position to become the next Beatles, or were a bunch of annoying wankers who thought they were the Beatles. There’s truth in both statements. Noel was an amazing pop songwriter and his brother Liam was dangerous and bratty and thus totally charismatic and lovable, and they were massive in the UK. Massive. And, for about six months, they were massive in the states too. But then they kept cancelling shows at the last minute, and actually saying they were a good band and how much they loved being famous, which, in the “alternative” days, was simply not done.

This was certainly their biggest US hit, and it deserves to be – it’s gorgeous and it’s got that old universal theme of “love heals all wounds” and all that, but it’s also personal, because the only person who could ever get away with using the name of an old George Harrison solo record as a pet name is Noel Gallagher.

They’re not the Beatles at all, by the way. Working class kids who defiantly wrap themselves in the flag and release hit singles that are celebrated with raised pints whenever they come on the Jukebox? They’re more like the British Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Champagne Supernova” even kinda sounds like “Freebird,” now that I think of it….

53. Mouth, Merril Bainbridge

When Merril kisses your mouth, she wants to taste it. If you ever find yourself making out with Merril Bainbridge, skip the Altoids.

50. Time, Hootie and The Blowfish

Hootie and The Blowfish actually took their name from two of Darius Rucker’s high school buddies, and no one in the band was ever supposed to be Hootie or any kind of spiny sea creature. However, people still refer to Darius as Hootie, and man, he hates it. Although I’m sure he prefers the name “Hootie” to “Tender Crisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch Guy.”

Heh. Get a load of this guy.

44. 1979, The Smashing Pumpkins

The Pumpkins are one of my favorite bands, and this was their biggest hit. Plus, I was born in ’79, so I gotta pay it some respect. But if you listened to alternative radio back in 1996, you heard this song roughly 9,532 times an hour. Now, you may say that’s impossible, because the song is four minutes long and an hour only has sixty minutes. If you think that, then you clearly weren’t listening to alternative rock radio in 1996.

Consequently, I kind of grew to hate this song, but I really like it now. The main riff in this song actually isn’t a guitar riff at all, but is actually Billy Corgan humming into a vocorder, because his stupid band couldn’t play it the way it sounded in his head. This was a very Billy Corgan thing to do, considering he had kicked D’arcy and James out of the studio during the recording of Siamese Dream and wound up playing all the instruments on that album himself. Don’t get me wrong – Billy’s one of my songwriting heroes, and when I met him (cough cough) he was exceptionally nice. But if he ever asked me to join his band, I’d probably cry and run away.

39. Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Deep Blue Something

The guy from Deep Blue Something was a teacher at a ultra-conservative Christian high school in Texas, who actually had to leave his job when his song hit the charts because the parents complained to the administration that they didn’t want their children exposed to the corruptive influence… of the guy from Deep Blue Something. No word of a lie. Also, the song in question was written about his ex, who became a born again Christian and therefore decided that What Jesus Would Do in this situation is smash her heathen boyfriend’s heart into a million pieces.

The moral of the story is (choose one):
a) Deep Blue Something really needed to get the fuck out of Texas.
b) If you ever find yourself thinking that Deep Blue Something is somehow offensive to the Almighty, you need to get the fuck out of Texas.
c) Deep Blue Something never had another hit because God’s petty like that.
d) The school, the administration, and the girlfriend were all (apparently) blissfully unaware that the character of Holly Golightly in the film “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” was actualy based on the author’s gay lover. So maybe the Lord’s smilin’ down on ol’ DBS after all.

37. Sweet Dreams, La Bouche

Yes. Sweet Dreams. Of rhythm and dancin’, no less. Sweet dreams of dancin’ through the night. People talk about Nirvana being the band of the 1990s. However, if you ever went to a high school dance or a cheesy nightclub during that turbulent decade, you knew otherwise. It was either this or “Be My Lover” all damn night. If you were very good, you’d get the Boom Boom Boom lemmehearyasayHey-oh song.

35. Down Low (Nobody Has To Know), R. Kelly

I believe, and I’m not even being snarky here, that this song was written for R. Kelly’s wife. You know who she was at the time? Aaliyah. You know how old she was? 15.

R. Kelly: Like Jerry Lee Lewis, but creepier.

33. Gangsta’s Paradise, Coolio

Coolio may not have been the first rapper to inform us that being a gangsta’ wasn’t all guns, guts, and glory, but he was the first one to write a mainstream hit about it. It was in the not-very-good-but-very-successful film “Dangerous Minds”, which was based on a book called “My Posse Don’t Do Homework.” The video features Coolio and Michelle Pfeiffer, the female lead in the film, staring each other down in a dark room.

Coolio also had very silly hair. Weird Al made fun of Coolio’s very silly hair on the cover of his “Bad Hair Day” album, which contained a parody of “Gangsta’s Paradise” entitled “Amish Paradise.” The hilarious juxtaposition of the ultimate street anthem with the least gangsta people on the planet notwithstanding, Coolio got really pissed at Weird Al for dissing his tune, which Coolio found to be “too serious.” It’s hard to say Coolio took himself too seriously considering he based his follow-up single off of the hook from “Fantastic Voyage” and utilized the words “slide slide, slippity slide,” but I’m gonna say that anyway.

30. One Of Us, Joan Osborne

This is a really good song.

No, seriously. You know what Prince said once? He said, and I quote, “that’s the one song in the last 20 years that I wish I had written.” So he covered it. And his cover version (off Musicology) is even better than Joan’s version. So, come on, man. Prince likes it. And he is funky. So shut yo’ mouth.

You know who else liked this song? Dr. Evil.

29. You Oughta Know, Alanis Morissette

This was how the world outside of Canada (and “You Can’t Do That On Television” fandom) was introduced to Alanis Morrissette, and immediately pegged her as an aggro-shrewish man-hater. Which is unfair, because as you know from hearing every other song she’s ever done, she’s actually very chill and likes thanking India and has one hand in her pocket and all she really wants is some justice, ba-hau-wow-oh-wah-au-ow. Unfortunately, there’s that voice of hers, which is nasal and aggressive and, well, shrewish. So, basically, Alanis Morrissette is what Lucy from the Peanuts gang would be if she grew up and went to Smith.

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28. Counting Blue Cars, Dishwalla

I’m not sure how I feel about Dishwalla. Sometimes I think they’re exceptionally bland, the template for soccer-mom friendly “rock” like Matchbox 20 and Sister Hazel. Plus, they kicked off their breakthrough album Pet Your Friends with a song about how adolescent girls dressing too sexy was “not cool, man,” which is probably the least rock and roll sentiment ever expressed since “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off.” When the first track of your CD reminds me of The Maury Povich Show, you’re *suspect*, buddy.

Other times, though, I think they were actually writing songs that were trying to say something, and by this point (i.e. the “post-grunge” era) that sort of thinking could do you in. Their ill-fated second single “Charlie Brown’s Parents” has more to say and rocks a lot harder, but “Counting Blue Cars” has a strange beauty to it. Check out the acoustic version if you get a chance. Plus, my Mom really liked it because they talked about God being a woman and she’s cool like that.

26. Where Do You Go, No Mercy

I think I’ve already trashed this song elsewhere, but picture an exceedingly sensitive, unattractive, deeply closeted 18-year old boy with too much product in his hair who, God love him, has the personality of lukewarm Cream of Wheat. Now picture him trying to hit on a girl who’s way out of his league at the cheesiest club in New Jersey. Now give him a Casio keyboard.

That’s what this song says to me.

25. Who Will Save Your Soul, Jewel

There’s not many comic gems to be mined from Jewel, except that a) she came from Alaska, b) could yodel, c) had bad teeth, d) used the profits from her first album to get good teeth, e) wrote a book of terrible poetry, and f) went from being a funky coffee house hottie to a bland glam pseudo-supermodel sometime between “Pieces Of You” and her follow up disc. On second thought, Jewel is like the Johnannesburg Diamond Mine of comedy – there’s so much there that if you went for all of it at once, you’d wind up devaluing the product.

24. Name, Goo Goo Dolls

All right. This is one of my favorite songs ever, and I couldn’t really explain why. So, I had do it for me.

And they said:

Rzeznik’s empathetic vocal, delivering one of his best lyrics on favored subjects of friendship, loss, and fame, matches unfolky strumming and quiet energy, creating a song that feels like both a farewell to the American Dream and to a long-lost partner. All this without sounding a Bruce Springsteen sermon — a rare thing indeed.

Unfortunately, it also marked the point where the Goo Goo Dolls stopped trying to rip off The Replacements and started trying to rip off themselves. That wouldn’t really happen for a couple more albums, but without “Name” there would be no “Black Balloon”, there would be no “Slide”, there would be no “Iris”, or “I’m Still Here”, or “Acoustic #3”, or… and that’s kind of the problem with the music industry in a nutshell. Because of their mainstream, soccer-mom success, rock radio wouldn’t play them anymore. So, their singles are all now jangly and radio-friendly and there’s only so far you can go in that format. After struggling for years and years in fucking Buffalo, NY, after getting screwed over by their label, the band finally cuts a break, and now they’re expected to be something other than what they really are. So, in order to stay working, every song now has to be safe like “Name.” If all of a sudden they wanted to go avant-garde indie and record an Arcade Fire-style album, for instance, nobody would touch it, no matter how good it was.

The moral of the story is this: It sucks to be a Goo Goo Doll.

22. Insensitive, Jann Arden

With Alanis, Celine, and Jann on the charts, 1996 was a very good year to be a Canadian pop siren. Sarah Mclachlan was still rocking the ren fayre hair, but she’d have her day.

Listening to this tune again, there’s not much that really separates it from your average soft rock ballad, except the part where she sings “in-sen-suh-tive”, and kind of reminds me of Chrissie Hynde for some reason. (Ten years later, Gwen Stefani would pull off the same cooing staccato hook in “Cool.”)

19. Change The World, Eric Clapton

This is Eric’s collaboration with Babyface for the “Phenomenon” soundtrack, which was for a movie that starred John Travolta as a guy who developed super-powers. This is probably some kind of crazy Scientology thing.

18. It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, Celine Dion

All I remember about this song is that the video had Ms. Dion emoting in some kind of castle or cathedral or something, and my friend Lauryn called me up after watching it to inform me that Celine Dion had, in her words, “man hands.”

15. Til I Hear It From You, Gin Blossoms

There was this movie called Empire Records, and it had one of those soundtracks every suburban white kid was forced to buy. The movie takes place in an independent record shop that the kids are trying to stop from being bought up by a huge ass conglomerate. Nowadays, not only are almost all record shops part of huge ass conglomerates, but there are actually relatively few record shops, thanks to digital media.

Secondly, one of the main girls reacts to a particularly nasty breakup by shaving her head. If this movie had come out in the ’80s, she would have come across as totally mental. If it came out today, people would just thank Jesus she wasn’t cutting. However, in 1996, this was a perfectly logical reaction. She’s saying “I’m so wrecked about this that I’m going to change my appearence to make myself unattractive, because fuck you.” It’s very riot grrl, very tail-end of second-wave feminist, and it makes perfect sense.

Third, the end of the movie has some random band playing a shitty song called “Sugarhigh” on the roof, and they get Roxie Hart to sing back-up. She does not (as far as I recall) get the boy in the end. Instead, her character achieves self-actualization by fronting a rock band. Again, if this movie were made today (with Lindsay Lohan, no doubt), she would have hooked up with the blandly attractive frontman of the band in question.

Fourth, the movie stars Liv Tyler, Ethan Embry, and Anthony LaPaglia, all of whom only make sense within the context of 1996.

Last, the point of the movie is that the characters all figure out what they want to do with their lives, and then they go and do it. Doesn’t this strike you as a bit pre-9/11? Like, if the movie was made nowadays, the moral of the story would be “give up on your dreams and do something sensible for a change. Also, buy more shit.”?

Anyway, “Til I Hear It From You” was on the soundtrack.

13. Ironic, Alanis Morissette

I was going to post a whole thing here about how none of the situations in this song are actually ironic, but someone went and did that already.

I do, however, really like the video for this song, which casts Alanis as herself (driving a car), her sulky teenaged sister (in the back seat of the car), and her hyper kid sister (also in the back seat.) Alanis’s whole persona, and I think the reason she connected with so many kids, was that she was the cool big sister of rock. Her audience percieved her as being just a little older, wiser, and more worldly than they were, but still very cool and zen and willing to loan you her mix tapes. This video just drives the point home – her car in the video isn’t some new Beetle or trendy expensive car no young person would ever be able to afford – it’s a crappy old Volvo where the heat probably takes nine whole minutes to kick in. It’s not a beautiful summer day either; you can tell by their sweaters and scarves and the diffused brightness of the sun that it’s probably some time in November. Shit, the video for “November Rain” didn’t even take place in November.

Yeah. I really like this video.

12. Missing, Everything But The Girl

Tracey Thorn has one of those misty British voices that makes you want to curl up inside of it. And, come on; the line “I miss you like the deserts miss the rain” is pretty awesome.

11. C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train), Quad City Dj’s

Perhaps you recall Jock Jams. I’m sure you’ve got that CD, or a similar one, somewhere gathering dust at the bottom of your pile, along with the second Silverchair album and… well… the first Silverchair album. Anyway, this was a Jock Jams mainstay, which means it’s the sort of thing you could expect to hear at NBA games and wedding receptions alike. It’s so repetitive and silly that it’s kind of awesome.

According to Wikipedia, “The Seattle Storm play this song at their WNBA games to lead fans in a conga line on the court.” This fact is dubious, at best, because as we all know, it is impossible to form a conga line with 0 people.

8. I Love You Always Forever, Donna Lewis

Donna Lewis arrived one day with this nursery rhyme-toothpaste jingle of a song, made sure it lodged itself in everyone’s brain like one of those ear slugs from “Star Trek II,” and then, her mission accomplished, evaporated in a puff of evil.

“Eet wraps itself arrround the cerebral corrrrtex.”

7. Tha Crossroads, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

I remember the exact moment I started to think that maybe rap wasn’t so bad after all, and that moment was in May of 1996, driving to Nashua, NH, about two minutes after I’d picked up Mike Hudak, and about one minute after he’d dropped the CD single of “The Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in my car CD player.

The song is dedicated to Easy-E, who died of AIDS just before the Thugs’ album E.1999 Eternal was released. Like Kathie Lee needs Regie, that’s how Bone Thugs needed Easy. The band drove out to L.A. one day in the early ’90s specifically to audition for Easy-E, their hero, and upon hearing that he wasn’t in town but was, in fact, coming to Bone Thugs’ home town of Cleveland really soon, they high-tailed it back, did a live audition, and he made them superstars. He even gave them their name. Then the guy, who few even knew was sick, passed away. Even if you didn’t know all that stuff, “The Crossroads” is still a beautiful song. If you knew, even the hardest thug cried a little.

“Angel” by Sarah McLachlan is “The Crossroads” for white people.

6. Give Me One Reason, Tracy Chapman

Tracy hadn’t had a really big hit for about eight years, but she was still kinda hangin’ in there doing her thing. This song just exploded for her, though. It’s a great big blues song that B.B. King could have written.

What then follows is four songs I could give a shit about, and then we get to the number one song of 1996. This should come as no surprise to anyone.

1. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio


This wasn’t a song. This wasn’t even a phenomenon. This was a goddamned daily ritual in 1996. Seriously. You know how whenever someone makes a movie about the 1920s, everyone dances the Charleston all the time? Well, one day, there’s going to be serious cultural studies about the 1990s. Not in a “I Love The ’90s” way, where you get a bunch of B-list comedians and celebrities together to wax nostalgic about stuff that happened seven years ago, but in an anthropological kind of way. In a “the past is a different country” kind of way. And I honestly think that, amongst all the Starbucks and Internet references, every scene is going to have random extras in the background who haven’t even been born yet doing the Macarena. That is how we shall be portrayed. I mean, other stuff happened in the 1920s besides the Charleston, Charlie Chaplin, and cigarette holders, but no one cares. What about Calvin Coolidge? Leopold and Loeb? The invention of television and celebrity culture? Nope. The 1920s were all about people dancing the fucking Charleston as far as you’re concerned. So, seventy years from now, when they wheel us over to the high school to see our great-grandkids in the Barack Obama Memorial High School production of that “charming 1990s farce” Angels In America, will, in the interest of recreating the decade, be performing the Macarena.

It was that big. It was that important. Literally, in ’96, we’d all wake up, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, do the macarena, shower, go to work or school, have lunch, do the macarena, go home, watch “Friends”, and do the macarena. They even did the macarena at the Democratic National Convention. Al Gore made a joke out of *not* doing the macarena. The only reason they didn’t do it at the Republican National Convention was that they didn’t want Bob Dole to feel left out.

I’ll bet you can still do the macarena. I’ll bet you’re doing it right now. And I’ll bet you don’t even know what the damn lyrics mean. Well, let me bring you gringos up to speed; I popped on over to Babelfish, and this is what they came up with:

“Dale to your body alegria Macarena
That your body is pá to give him alegria
and good thing Dale to your body alegria, Macarena.
Hey, Macarena.”

As you can see, it didn’t want to translate most of the lyrics for some reason. However, “Alegria” is the Spanish word for “jubilation”, which I know because there’s a Cirque du Soleil show called Alegria, and that’s what they say it means. Cirque du Soleil also has a show in Vegas now where everyone’s naked all the time, called Zumanity. One would hope that they cast performers whose bodies were, for the most part at least, pa.

Anyway, I don’t know what the hell was up with 1996. Theories, suggestions, and death threats should be posted below.


Posted by on June 24, 2007 in music, nostalgia, worst years in music


Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Worst Years In Music: 1996

  1. MDM

    April 10, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    “Dale a tu cuerpo alegria, Macarena.
    Que tu cuerpo es pa darle alegria, cosa buena.
    Dale a tu cuerpo alegria, Macarena.
    AAAAAyyyyy, Macarena!”

    It’s a bit hard to translate because there’re some words that are only used in some regions of Spain. Macarena is a girl name, “cosa buena” can be translated as “many” or “a lot of” in some places, “pa” is “para”, “for” or “to” in english, and “alegria” is “joy” or “happiness”.The right translation is something like this:

    “Give joy to your body, Macarena.
    Your body needs a lot of joy.
    Give joy to your body, Macarena.
    Heeeeey, Macarena!!”

    Ok, it’s a stupid song, but it was a hit. I think the lyrics does not matter, only music and dance do. Sorry for my english, I am still learning!!


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