Five Songs That Give Listeners a Fix of Nineties Nostalgia

By Meredith Nardino 

Those of us born in the late 90s are stuck in an awkward position between true ‘90s kids and more millennial identities. While I certainly embrace the best (and worst) qualities of the millennial generation, I feel a sort of confused nostalgia for ‘90s culture.
From fashion, to cult films, to music, the decade is full of iconic references upon which much of our modern pop culture depends. The simplicity and wonder of ‘90s culture lay the foundation for so many current trends, especially when it comes to music.

  1. “Fade into You”— Mazzy Star
    If this song feels like it could have been used in every post-break up montage in every cheesy romantic comedy or television show produced in the ‘90s, it is because it was. The Santa Monica based alternative band perfectly encapsulates the dreamy, love-struck quality of adolescent relationships. “Fade into You” is certainly the group’s most successful track in the mainstream sense, peaking at No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart following its 1993 release.

  2. “Sometimes Always” — The Jesus and Mary Chain
    Continuing in the theme of lo-fi love songs, this band of Scottish brothers recruited Mazzy Star’s lead singer, Hope Sandoval, for an uncharacteristic duet. The Jesus and Mary Chain got its start in the mid-1980s and remained fairly successful among underground post-punk crowds. Like many of the groups on this list, JAMC suffered a turbulent rise to fame, ultimately leading to its split at the turn of the ‘00s. “Sometimes Always” is a testament to the band’s softer side, as much of its discography leans toward aggressive, energetic noise.

  3. “Hey Jealousy” — The Gin Blossoms
    Before their inevitable split in 1997, the Gin Blossoms experienced highs and lows in the busyness that characterize their upbeat, yet defeatist music. In a style that recalls R.E.M. and the Replacements, the group masks their tumultuous history beneath an irresistible hook. “Hey Jealousy” is about as ‘90s pop-rock as a song can get — the fuzzy guitar and bittersweet lyrics envelop you in a weird, unrelenting angst.

4.“Dreams” — The Cranberries
Contemporary Celtic Rock seems to be a genre that could only be a product of the ‘90s. The Cranberries made waves with their debut LP, Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, featured both “Dreams” and the now-classic single, “Zombie.” “Dreams” thrives off of an instrumental melody that draws clear inspiration from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, but a vocal tone that is unique to the era and to the band itself.

  1. “Something’s Always Wrong” — Toad and the Wet Sprocket
    After it rose to No. 9 on the 1994 Billboard Alternative charts, “Something’s Always Wrong” propelled this California band to mainstream success. From the title alone, it’s easy to tell this song is a sensitive, cathartic five minutes of music. There is something oddly comforting in the despair that is evident in this tune, making it yet another go-to soundtrack feature. Toad and the Wet Sprocket appeal to the young romantic in each of us, proving their music is more profound than their amazingly absurd name.
Hope Sandoval sings vocals on the Scottish duo’s track “Sometimes Always.” (Courtesy of Flickr)

Hope Sandoval sings vocals on the Scottish duo’s track “Sometimes Always.” (Courtesy of Flickr)

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