Hanson, Spice Girls and everything '90s #MusicMonday

Monday, May 05, 2014

'90s music pop culture Hanson Spice Girls Backstreet Boys pop music teenagers teenyboppers bubblegum pop

So last week found me at the intersection of 2002 Street and Memory Lane. This week finds me on the 1990s block. For some unbeknownst reason, I had a hankering to listen to Hanson this past week. And then that eventually turned into "let's listen to the Spice Girls!"

Isn't it funny how sometimes the biggest, most indelible marks on history (or popular culture) are also sometimes some of the most short-lived? Compared to other pop acts who've stuck around, the Spice Girls were a relative flash-in-the-pan, enjoying popularity for only about four years before taking a semi-permanent hiatus in 2000. In the U.S., they were gone almost as soon as they came, with "Wannabe" debuting in January 1997 and their last major American hit ("Goodbye") coming at the end of 1998. Four years seemed like an eternity then, but would you believe that it's been about six years since Beyoncé's "Single Ladies"?

If I recall correctly, Hanson and the Spice Girls hit American radio at about the same time, with Hanson perhaps trailing by a handful of months. The Backstreet Boys followed soon thereafter (and the whole "Baby Boomers' Babies" phenomenon referenced in the above photo of a 1997 New York Times article), but for some reason, I was having none of it with the boys. I bought into the Spice Girls thing -- not tremendously so, as even 12-year-old me thought the whole "Girl Power" thing was a gimmick -- but I had the baby doll dresses, platform shoes, Spice Girls Chupa Chups and complimentary collectible stickers. And for the most part, I loved their music, even after they were long gone. "2 Become 1" (my first slow dance, and dirty -- I wonder what we thought they meant by "tonight is the night when two become one"), "Stop," "Too Much" and "Goodbye" were my favorite singles, but their final and largely unnoticed album had a handful of what I consider their greatest songs.


 I wasn't a fan of Hanson back then, and I'm still not a fan of their earlier stuff. But by the time "This Time Around" rolled around in 2000 and all members had hit puberty, I found myself really enjoying their music. I think to those who have paid any attention to them after the end of the '90s pop era would have by now realized that they are more than just a bunch of whiny girly-looking guys doing bubblegum pop. I dig it, and I admire how they've managed to escape the immense negativity of their early days unscathed.

By the way, I've been listening to the "'90s Pop" station on Pandora all weekend, and I have to warn you: Pandora thinks Alanis Morissette, Sugar Ray and the Backstreet Boys were the dominating artists of '90s pop, and that the only single Destiny's Child ever put out in the '90s was "Jumpin' Jumpin'".

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