Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Songs for Starring in Your Own 1990s After School Special

Apparently meteorological and hormonal forces aligned in such a way in the 1990s to create a perfect storm of overwrought songs about teenage drama. For a decade that produced a whole lot of great music from weird-looking kids as an antidote to packaged 80s pop, there sure were enough “Reviving Ophelia”-style issue songs and over the top pop anthems to fill every notebook margin in the country with significant nobody-gets-me-oh-god-but-Mark-Hoppus-gets-me quotage. With at least a decade’s distance from most of these songs it’s easy to find them funny, but, shamefully, it’s way more fun to sit in an office chair and secretly pine for an issue that requires your family to stage an intervention.

Songs for Starring in Your Own 1990s After School Special
(Complete mixtape available on

1. Offspring - The Kids Aren’t Alright
Kathy says: This song is basically the teen issue equivalent of “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” Teen pregnancy, drop outs, unemployment, drug abuse, suicide, and overdose. And that’s just the second verse.

2. Everclear – Father of Mine
Kathy says: His daddy gave him a name, and then he walked away. Pure Banana Splits-style tragedy. (Which I’m sure was at least slightly vindicated by the fact that Art Alexakis got to call out his dad six times an hour on Z-100 for at least 6 months during 1997.)

3. Blink 182 – Adam’s Song
Kai says: Ah, teenage suicide! “Sixteen just held such better days…”

4. K’s Choice – Not an Addict
Kai says: This song manages to make drugs sound cool and melodramatic while simultaneously being all “oooh, but watch out!” It’s a teenage drama explosion.

5. Silverchair – Ana’s Song
Kai says: What’s better than a song about anorexia from the hot Silverchair guy? It just pulls my teenage heart strings. Also, it seems the formula for a teen drama song is name + “song.” Name should preferably start with an A.

6. The Verve Pipe – Freshmen
Kathy says: Guilt-stricken, sobbing with my head on the floor…for inflicting this on anyone listening to this mixtape. I fucking hate this song—I hated it when it came out—but it’s so perfect I had to put it on here. This was a song not for cutters, but for kids who sat in their room contemplating possibly cutting, thinking the better of it, and writing horribly poetry instead. This song makes the ill-fated week’s worth of Valium sound really enticing.

7. Jewel – Foolish Games
8. Edwin McCain – I’ll Be

Kathy says: The equally important soundtrack to a snotty, sobbing teenage love scene after everyone’s hit (a flannel-cushioned) rock bottom.

9. Soul Asylum – Runaway Train
Kai says: Runaways equal teenage drama to the extreme. Every episode of Sally Jesse Raphael and every issue of Seventeen with a runaway teen story was pure gold. The video for this song was practically a Lifetime movie.

10. Bone Thugs -N-Harmony – Crossroads

Kathy says: A melodic pouring out of 40s on the curb, if you will. The video to this song was so over the top, with the church and the flashing lights and the shooting reinactments and everything, but the song gets kind of heartbreakingly sincere at the “I miss my Uncle Charles, y’all” line.

11. Blessid Union of Souls – I Believe
Kathy says: The 90s melodrama ace up my sleeve. Beat it, I dare you.

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