o you think you’re a 90s fan? OK, Laura Palmer, can you handle this? It’s I Love the 1990s, and this is 1990! The flicks, the fashions, the trends, the TV, the tunes. A totally awesome year that gave us these burning questions:
Just how funny were America’s Funniest Home Videos?
Steve Lichtenstein: Until they aired Bob Saget’s vasectomy by olive fork, the show never quite lived up to its title.
And what was the real purpose behind slap bracelets?
Ben Welsh: The hard kids at my junior high used to tear the cloth covers off these things and use the metal plate underneath to shiv people at recess.
Because you love the 90s, because you still break out those Hammerpants when you want to get funky, admit it: this is 1990!
*** Super Mario Bros. 3*** Pretty Woman*** Quantum Leap*** Public Enemy***
*** Slap Bracelets*** Forgotten Albums of 1990*** Kids in the Hall*** Diva House***
*** The Word*** Sinead O’Connor*** Dances with Wolves*** Loser of 1990***
*** Reebok Pump*** Arnold Schwarzenegger*** Garth Brooks***
*** Edward Scissorhands*** MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice*** Forgotten Films of 1990***
*** Madchester*** Ghost*** The World Cup*** America’s Funniest Home Videos***
*** Twin Peaks*** Rollerblading Jam of 1990*** Goodfellas*** End of Thatcherism***
*** Cradle of Love*** Where’s Waldo*** Home Alone***
Andrew Unterberger: In 1990, Nintendo released both Super Mario Bros. 3 and Dr. Mario, and the world rejoiced.
Gavin Mueller: My family didn't have much money, so I never had many video games with which to waste my youth. Luckily I had Super Mario Brothers 3, perhaps Nintendo's finest achievement. No saving capabilities: you had to play this bad boy all the way through—and I did, repeatedly.
Ian Mathers: Super Mario Bros. 3 was a quantum leap forward for the Mario series and Nintendo as a whole, not to mention videogames in general. Multiple words, more power-ups, two-player modes that made sense, secret warps—it was the original taken to its logical extreme.
Tom May: My favorite of these games if I do recall.
Joe Niemczyk: Long before my friends or I were even able to get our preteen paws on an actual Super Mario Brothers cartridge, the game was already a legend. For months we poured over the sneak previews in our tattered copies of Nintendo Power, gazing over the mouth-watering screenshots like other kids might ogle a porno mag. Finally catching a glimpse of the game in the climactic scene of the Fred Savage road movie The Wizard sent us into fits.
Gabe Gloden: Anyone who remembers SMB3, remembers the 1990 Fred Savage vehicle, The Wizard, a story about two brothers’ cross-country trip to compete in the Video Game Olympics where, in the final showdown, viewers were treated to a sneak-peak at the new soon-to-be classic game. For most theater-goers, it was typically schmaltzy family-friendly fare, but for video game fanatics such as myself, it was akin to past sub-culture normalizing films like Rebel Without A Cause and Saturday Night Fever.
Ian Mathers: I suck at most video games, so unless I was willing to put serious effort and time into it, my forays into Mario 3 usually ground to a halt around level 5. I beat the game using Warp Whistles a few times, of course, but that’s cheating.
Ben Welsh: Seriously, who the fuck ever found those warp whistles on their own? They make the Holy Grail look like an AOL promo CD. I doubt I’m the only one who learned from watching The Wizard. Jesus, remember the scene in that movie with the powerglove showdown at the roadside arcade? What the fuck was that all about?
Gabe Gloden: The film’s dysfunctional family, splintered by divorce, is brought together through video games (and more importantly, Super Mario Bros. 3), thus legitimizing the adhesive, which, until this mainstream film, had been considered an oddity of youth culture. Yet serious questions remain: How did Jimmy know where the flute was hidden in the first castle of the game? How did Corey know the flute opened the warp zone? And, most importantly, why didn’t my Power Glove make all those bad-ass beeping noises like the one Lucas had?
Ian Mathers: The frog suit makes you swim and jump well: that I get. And having a leaf give you flying/gliding powers kind of makes sense. But having the leaf give you a raccoon tail and ears so you can fly? What do they put in the water in Japan?
Evan Chakroff: The most important lesson one can learn from Mario 3 is this: Much like that bouncy wind-up sock thing, some things in life are rare and precious. Enjoy them while you can.
Ian Mathers: Although it seems primitive now, Mario 3 was yet another milestone on videogames’ journey from Pong to the increasingly complex, subtle and worthwhile (in various ways, mind you) games of today: another step in the maturation of the craft. At the time Mario 3 was the coolest thing out there, and the fact that recently a video circulated showing someone beating the whole thing in 11 minutes or so to cries of "that’s so cool!” testifies to the game’s grip on many a pasty youngster from back in the day.
Andrew Unterberger: Dr. Mario was like Tetris, except for kids that were more into biology than geometry.
Ian Mathers: In its wake, and the wake of Tetris, Nintendo made a puzzle game that combined the thrilling "things fall and you put them in the proper place” action of Tetris with the character of Mario. Surprisingly quite good, shows that when Nintendo does up a quick cash-in it occasionally works really well; more fun and less frustrating than Tetris, Dr. Mario is addictively simple and started the trend of letting players in this sort of puzzle game set up huge combos (which is always fun).
Gavin Mueller: The "Chill" music on Dr. Mario is undeniable.
Andrew Unterberger: Why the game’s two theme songs didn’t become international dancefloor smashes, I’ll never figure out—goddamn, listen to those funky breaks!!
Ian Mathers: On a similar note, while I was quite good at Dr. Mario, I remember one Saturday in the early time my dad sat down for "just a game” and only getting up at suppertime; he (and the rest of us) had been mesmerized by the most sustained feat of pill-dropping I’d ever seen. I think he got to level 83 or something similarly ludicrous. It was great for competitive play, too.
Kareem Estefan: The only thing I have to say on the subject: those moments at 2AM where you feel like you’re going to the bathroom every ten minutes because you’ve had so much soda and your eyes burn in a way you’ve never felt before from staring at the pills, pills, pills, and Mario flying through a castle filled with hundreds of coins for hours until you’ve stacked up enough lives to survive through the eighth world and manage to beat the final level and forget it the next morning when you’re left feeling empty and alone are not pleasant. But that doesn’t mean you don’t do it all over again.
Todd Burns: Hooker with a heart of gold. Is this where that myth gained prominence?
Nick Southall: Never seen it but, you know, Roy Orbison! The man with the craziest vocal range ever.
Andrew Unterberger: Your classic Cinderella story, except in this one, Prince Charming gets to screw Cinderella on top of a piano in the cocktail bar.
Eric Seguy: Pretty Woman is as boring a movie about hookers as has ever been made.
Todd Burns: Julia Roberts plays said hooker (Vivian Ward), merely biding time before she can leave to the job that she really wants. Richard Gere plays the rich man (Edward Lewis), more than happy to clean her up and make her a respectable woman, while respecting her as a woman. For the most part.
Adrien Begrand: Formulaic tripe.
Sam Bloch: My mom loves this shit. "Slippery little sucker!" That's her favorite. Every single time I drop something. Slippery little sucker.
Sam Hunt: To the best of my knowledge this movie involves Julia Roberts taking a bath and, like, getting bitten by some weird box in Richard Gere’s hands. And I assume that there was sex/swearing/naughty involved.
Eric Seguy: In a film with an inane proclivity towards unlikely Happy Endings and implausible Easy Way Outs, there are scant pleasures to be had. Foremost among them is when Julia Robert’s character, Vivian, goes to a Beverly Hills Chanel decked out in whore-garb and is promptly kicked out on her ass. In a career built on shameless mugging, unbearably toothy smiles, and syrupy martyrdom, it’s nice to see Julia Roberts wring her hands worriedly about rejection for a few moments, even if it is just (bad) acting.
Amanda Petruisch: I actually saw this movie for the first time about two years ago; after I stopped spluttering about its sexism, the global implications of romanticizing prostitution on film, etc., the most shocking part was seeing George Costanza acting like such an enormous dick.
Andrew Unterberger: Unsurprisingly, when he’s not being funny, George Costanza really is one miserable, miserable, miserable son of a bitch.
Tony Van Groningen: My mom wouldn’t let me watch this movie when it came out. I guess she didn’t want me to know about hookers. I ended up seeing it eventually anyways, and my lasting impression from that movie was "why would a guy like Richard Gere need to hire a hooker in the first place?” But I guess I was happy that Julia Roberts didn’t have to get paid for sex anymore.
Sam Hunt: My mom absolutely forbade me to see this movie. To get back at her, I read every article I could find about it, bought the soundtrack and pestered her forever. And OH the stories that my friends told about how incredible this movie was. Despite my mom’s best efforts, I learned about prostitution without having seen the movie.
Michael Heumann: The screenwriter of this movie, JF Lawton, went to my college, and I was taking a creative writing class from his dad when this movie came out. I remember his dad coming into class and tell all of us, "Quit writing short stories and novels, and start writing screenplays." Did I take his advice? Nope. Instead, I went to graduate school and studied literature for the rest of the 90s. Boy, am I an idiot.
Andrew Unterberger: Quantumn Leap was a hell of a show, one of the first I ever watched on a regular basis.
Todd Burns: This series was based on the premise of a man (Sam Beckett, played by Scott Bakula) who invents a time machine, but tries to use it before it is finished, because of the threat of cuts in funding. As such, Sam is relegated to living in other people’s bodies and trying to right the wrongs of their pasts. With each leap, Sam hopes to leap back into his own body.
Evan Chakroff: Alright, I need Scott Bakula to leap on in while I'm at work. I can chill in the future/waiting room from 9 to 5 each day and take over for happy hour. Ziggy, hook it up.
Todd Burns: Sam is helped by his friend Al (played by Dean Stockwell), a hologram that only he can see and talk to, who gives him the update on how his changed behavior is affecting the progress of the life that Sam is inhabiting for each week’s episode.
Nick Southall: Plus Dean Stockwell! Being even more camp than in Blue Velvet.
Andrew Unterberger: Al was this loveable guy who operated a computer named Ziggy that made funny bleeps and bloops and offered up various unfortunate statistics—”92% chance of you going to the gas chamber, heads up, Sammy!” And at the end of every episode, Sam’s leaps were signified by him freezing, and he would start emitting this strange glow while there were these weird sci-fi noises in the background.
Nick Southall: I watched this religiously, and, obviously, particularly liked the episodes when Sam was beamed into the body of a woman.
Andrew Unterberger: As a little kid, the episodes with Sam as a woman messed with my head—which way did he go to the bathroom?
Scott McKeating: I did not like it at all. Recycled the same old sitcom themes over the greasily thin plot of time travel.
Nick Southall: Terrifying beyond any other television program ever, on a basic spiritual level, because Sam could never go home.
Andrew Unterberger: Yeah, Sam Beckett never did find his way home—in the last episode he leaped just ceases to be. Weak.
Michael Heumann: When I first heard It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, I thought it was the most amazing album ever. But Fear... My god, this blew me away.
Kareem Estefan: This is the most powerful album ever recorded. Period.
Tony Van Groningen: This album did a lot to open my eyes to the way things were in other parts of the country. It didn’t take long for me to recognize the fundamental difference between Public Enemy and, say, Cypress Hill or MC Hammer or even Run DMC. Fear of a Black Planet was about something, and my young mind, which was also beginning to wrap itself around punk music, appreciated that.
Tom May: The summit of the Bomb Squad and Public Enemy's searing, politicised multiplicity of sounds and voices. It is a call for change and a better world that rings more deafeningly and affectingly than the mono tones of a Red Wedger; that staggering split-second moment of silence in the title track dares one to say that music and politics are not inextricably mixed.
Tony Van Groningen: "Elvis was a hero to most/ But he never meant shit to me you see / Straight up racist that sucker was / Simple and plain / Motherfuck him and John Wayne.” Whoa. Someone didn’t like Elvis?!!??
Josh Timmermann: Chuck D must be some sort of social prophet because this record predicted the ridiculous paranoia, considerably intensified by the decade's commendable civil rights advancements, that resentful closet bigots who whine about affirmative action like to call "reverse discrimination."
Scott McKeating: How come MCs aren't using this sort of production anymore? It sounds so alive and fucking forceful compared to a lot of the beats around these days. Imagine if Nas or Raekwon released an LP produced by the Bomb Squad.
Akiva Gottlieb: I’ve yet to explore the reasons why, though I’ve owned this album for over six months I’ve yet to listen to it. Is it because I fear hip-hop? Is it because I always end up looking like a jackass in debates about racial politics? Is it because I would rather namedrop Public Enemy than listen to them? Yes, yes it is.
Andrew Unterberger: Fuck Nation, before Fear of a Black Planet Public Enemy were a bunch of self-hyping clowns. Fear is what legitimized them as this titanic musical force that everyone said they were. Except for Flava Flav, he’s still a self-hyping clown. Moreso, even.
Tony Van Groningen: Almost fifteen years later and this album still doesn’t sound dated. The only problem I have with it in retrospect is on "Burn, Hollywood, Burn,” when a then-incendiary Ice Cube guests on the mic and concludes the song with the line "yo man, fuck Hollywood.” You sure had us fooled, Ice Cube. But even though Cube seems to have changed his tune over the years, it’s comforting to know that we’ll never, ever hear Chuck D putting out shit like "We Be Clubbing.”
Michael Heumann: If you grew up in the 90s and only know Public Enemy as history, then you probably don't realize how important and influential they are. Public Enemy are to rap what Bob Dylan is to rock or Robert Johnson is to the blues: they changed the language, adding layers of complexity and intelligence that no one had ever thought--and few have since bothered--to add.
Nick Southall: Because Chinese Burns weren’t bad enough on their own, were they? Oh no. Self-flagellation for kids, what a marvelous idea.
Todd Burns: The slap bracelet is exactly what it sounds like. A piece of plastic that you slap on your wrist that immediately wraps around, making it a bracelet. They came in numerous designs.
Ian Mathers: In their natural state slap bracelets were just straight strips of what looked like strips of fabric in various gaudy colors (it was 1990 – what did you expect?). Due to a cunningly worked piece of metal in the middle of these devices, though, you could make them curl around your wrist by slapping the back of your wrist with one. You could then straighten it out again, of course, for hours of fun.
Tony Van Groningen: These things were pretty cool because they were so simple. I’m surprised that they didn’t make a big resurgence in popularity when electroclash was all huge for a minute, those folks love to accessorize with items from 14 years ago.
Eric Seguy: Slap bracelets were an interesting idea, but ultimately worthless. Initially I dismissed them; I wasn’t–and still am not–a big fan of accessorizing, and frankly I didn’t have much that matched a Cheetah or Tie-Dye patterned slap bracelet.
Joe Niemczyk: With a few different pens any kid could customize their snap bracelet. Turn it into a canvas for different colors, designs, patters, swear words. We chose to strip away the cloth altogether and expose the bare metal, which made the sound and the snapping sensation of it coiling around one’s wrist in a split second infinitely more satisfying.
Ian Mathers: They looked really stupid, as did most fashion in the late 80s/early 90s; there was some novelty to be had from playing around with curling them up and then straightening them out again, but it faded fast. Where I lived, at least, they never really caught on.
Ben Welsh: The hard kids at my junior high used to tear the cloth covers off these things and use the metal plate underneath to shiv people at recess.
Ian Mathers: Standard schoolyard trick: If you get someone in just the right spot, these things really stung.
Eric Seguy: So why did I still buy them in their little plastic bubbles from grocery store vending machines? Why, to slap, of course! I was extremely enthused by the idea of holding the bracelet erect, like a scepter, and bringing it down upon my friends and enemies. I longed to see their red cheeks and wrists, and their pinched, bawling faces.
Tony Van Groningen: My most vivid memory of slap bracelets is when somebody slapped one across the top of my head and a lot of my hair got stuck in it somehow.
Gavin Mueller: The welts these caused no doubt contributed to widespread confusion at Children Services departments across the nation.
Evan Chakroff: I think they were banned at my school because some kid somewhere cut his/her wrist with one. This, of course, made them even cooler.
Eric Seguy: But the inventor of the slap bracelet was one step ahead of me; the bracelet collapsed into a tiny, circular structure at the slightest provocation. Because I felt that simply gouging the eyes of an unsuspecting victim would be too cruel, I became vocal about the bracelet’s uselessness, and tossed in the trash shortly after I purchased it.
The Shamen - En-Tact
Mashing pop into techno via tribalism through McKenna and Leary’s lysergic philosophies, En-tact stretched boundaries with "Oxygen Restriction”s stark dark ambience nestling up to the processed rock riffs of "Make it Mine” before Screamadelica came along. Still as commanding an experience as it was then with "Move Any Mountain - Progen” and Jack Dangers "Hyperreal Selector” still regularly appearing in DJ sets.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Good Son
Cave has always swung between the extremes of emotion and this was his calmest, cleanest and warmest LP to date coming off the back of the amphetamines and martini lounge of the superb Tender Prey and his role in the brutal Ghosts…of the Civil Dead. Cave’s newfound devotional romance shifts him from Old Testament ire to a New Testament truth, untainted with his future maudlin style (The Boatman’s Call). Backing comes as usual from The Bad Seeds forming a fine baritone choir and giving some subtle, sparse but warm performances..
Various Artists - Red Hot and Blue
This charity album of Cole Porter cover versions was born out of the rising awareness of the horrific reality of HIV and AIDS. Unlike the usual well intentioned compilation there isn’t a duff or throwaway track here, in fact many are essential versions of the archetypal originals. Highlights include U2’s take "Night and Day” to task and reinvent it as the tensed up longings of an broken obsessive, while Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop camp up "Well Did You Evah” almost to the point of overkill. Any album with a cast including The Jungle Brothers, Neneh Cherry, Erasure, The Pogues and Kirsty Maccoll and Jimmy Somerville, David Byrne and Tom Waits couldn’t have been anything other than exceptional.
Ben Welsh: Just like Monty Python, except gay instead of funny.
Ian Mathers: Canadian (yay!) sketch comedy half-hour that fully embraced the heritage of Monty Python (crossdressing! violence! non sequiters!) while having it’s own distinct identity.
Gabe Gloden: The troupe’s name, "Kids in the Hall", comes from a common reference of comedian Jack Benny’s. Benny would occasionally attribute some of his jokes to the young, up-and-coming comedians who used to hang around in the halls of the studio. Before telling the joke he would say, "This one's from one of the kids in the hall.”
Todd Burns: In the tradition of Monty Python, this Canadian troupe of sketch comedy artists dressed up as women, played dumb and honed their waiter skills on one of the most popular shows to make it down from Up North ever.
Ian Mathers: We all grew up with these guys here up North. I hear they eventually got shown on CBS and Comedy Central as well, which is all well and good, but up here the Kids are part of the culture, you understand? Not only did they bring back to prominence the art of the comic monologue (to this day the mere sight of Bruce McCulloch cracks my dad and I up), not only did they introduce audiences to five brilliant comedians (McCulloch, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson, all of whom have never been anything less than stellar in anything I’ve seen them in), but this show was just as popular and discussed in Ontario as SNL was in its heyday.
Adrien Begrand: Bruce McCulloch was a genius on this show. His Hitchcockian black and white short film about the bank teller who lent his pen to the customer was brilliant. And his "Daves I Know" song. And the squash player named Eradicator. And Mr.Cabbagehead. And the little kid Gavin. I could go on for hours.
Ian Mathers: And the openly, fabulously gay Scott Thompson is arguably one of the reasons we’re further ahead than the U.S. in that whole equal-rights thing.
Michael Heumann: "I'm crushing your head!" For that skit alone, they reign supreme.
Scott McKeating: It spawned that 'i squeeze your head' catchphrase that all the geeks used to use when standing at the other end of the corridoor and squeezing their fingers together.
Ian Mathers: Only lasting five seasons, it arguably never jumped the shark.The reruns continue to be a source of constant amusements.
Steve Lichtenstein: The logistics of hiring and maintaining a tiny oompa band in my head are both intricate are problematic. But I have no regrets.
Tony Van Groningen: Rule One of Diva House: The Chorus Is The Content.
EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!
I GOT THE POWER!!
GROOVE IS IN THE HEEEEEAAAAAAAART…
EVERYBODY EVERYBODY EVERYBODY EVERYBODY
Sam Hunt: I was very confused by the concept of the "C and C Music Factory.” Where was this factory? Did it have anything to do with the weird glowing orb in the video?
Tony Van Groningen: If I had to describe "Gonna Make You Sweat” in one word, it would be "ubiquitous.” Seriously, this song was fucking everywhere.
Ian Mathers: This song was the terror of my grade school gym classes. I’m sure it was fun to hear in clubs, but just try doing jumping jacks to it.
Steve Lichtenstein: nuh. nuh. nuh NUH nuh. nuh. nuh. nuh. I have more to say, but I can’t stop sweating..
Joe Niemczyk: My younger brother had managed to tape less than a minute of the song off of the radio, and for a few weeks, he played it in what sounded like a continuous loop from the giant subwoofers he’d mounted on the walls in his bedroom. To this day I still can’t get that damn chorus out of my head.
Amanda Petruisch: When Martha Wash lets out that bionic, full-belly yowl ("EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!”), dudes dance. This is not a friendly nudge: this is a serious call to arms.
Tony Van Groningen: I have no doubt that I got live to this song at many an eighth grade dance. "On my command –now- hit the dance floor,” indeed.
Andrew Unterberger: Oh, SNAP!
Tony Van Groningen: "The Power” was maybe the only song from 1990 that could match "Gonna Make You Sweat” for sheer overwhelming presence. There must be 46 million long forgotten mix tapes with these two tracks placed back to back.
Tom May: That juddering, metallically copulating riff was quite possibly everywhere at a certain time. Seemed to weld itself into the background of TV programs of all sorts, and prove a soundtrack to times yet-to-be for seven year-old me.
Sam Hunt: This song (and video) featured a Grace Jones-looking lady singing about how she had the power. Whenever I heard (and hear) the chorus to this song all I can think about is He Man yelling "I have the poooowwaaaaaaahh!!!!” And then I wonder what it would be like if He Man were to sing this song.
Nick Southall: Clearly this is a weak cousin of "Rhythm Is A Dancer”. I seem to remember the video being set in a forest, but I may have totally made this up.
Tony Van Groningen: If Snap had only had their own version of Freedom Williams rapping about dancing in the middle of all their songs, they may have been able to move beyond the one-hit-wonder ghetto and establish themselves as bona-fide three-hit-wonders like the Freedom Williams-blessed C&C; Music Factory.
Amanda Petruisch: A lot of people mistakenly think it’s Dee-Lite. It’s actually Deee-Lite. The extra "e” stands for EXCELLENTLY EXCELLENT.
Nick Southall: This is still the greatest single ever released by man or beast.
Tony Van Groningen: I still love this song. It’s so…fun. If you’re at a cool hipster party and this song comes on after "House of Jealous Lovers” or something, nobody cares, they just cheer and continue to dance, albeit maybe less spastically. You can’t say that about "I Got The Power,” for example, unless you’re at an uncool 35 year old mom party. Don’t be at that party.
Andrew Unterberger: The slide-whistle breakdown, the video’s silly intro, the cheek pop!
Amanda Petruisch: The best thing about this track is Bootsy Collins on bass
Ian Mathers: Even back then Bootsy Collins’ cameo appearance in the video was killer. Everybody loves Bootsy.
Tom May: That sprightly, Daisy Age video; the giddy, day-glo diva Lady Miss Kier like some incredulous alien visitor, chiding one's heart and feet into compliance, up and beyond staid 'normality'.
Steve Lichtenstein: An open letter to Lady Miss Keir: Thank you for making arm-waving balancing a viable dance move.
Josh Timmermann: Even in light of the late 90's' Timbalandization of all things made to get one's freak on to, this song still sounds as fresh and fun as the day it dropped. Keep on walking, Pharrell. No remix needed here.
Gabe Gloden: This song is really the only dance hit from ’90 that escaped the decade without sounding horribly dated. It’s a fusion masterpiece of all the pop trends at the time and still rocks dancefloors harder than anything released throughout the ��90s.
Ben Woolhead: Fourteen years on, this song is still absolutely guaranteed to get me onto the dance floor.
Andrew Unterberger: What the hell happened to "Everybody Everybody” anyway? No commercials, no movie spots, not even any sporting events? This song could go four rounds with any of these, so why aren’t we still reminded of its presence daily like we are with the rest? Unfair, I say.
Gabe Gloden: This track was only noticeable to me because of the minor obsession my father had with it. It was the only house song he ever really loved, and he bought their album and just played "Everybody Everybody” nonstop in the car, over and over, until I finally convinced him to listen to the remaining tracks. He never made it past "I Don’t Know Anybody Else”.
Nick Southall: She looked so good too, until she opened her mouth and that thing came out. This was less traumatic than "Ride On Time”, but still.
Andrew Unterberger: Hell, even Madonna made a Diva House record in 1990, and it became like her biggest hit ever.
Ian Mathers: Destined to be enshrined at beauty pageants and talent shows forever, Madonna's "Vogue" is also one of her best songs. A pulsating dance track that showed Madonna both creating her own mythology and living up to it.
Gabe Gloden: This is one of those rare songs that, when it ends, leaves the dancefloor hungry for more, more Madonna! The spell it casts is so powerful that it has even the most Skynrd-lovin’, fag-hatin’ Neanderthal moving like a dancing queen by its end.
Michael Heumann: My god, I hate Madonna. I've hated her since the mid-80s, when I first saw that video where she spray paints that dude's car. I hate this song. I hate its simplicity, its predictableness, its inability to do anything more that project a veiled hint of sophistication. In the end, though, I hate it because it's Madonna.
Josh Timmermann: Before name-dropping some golden-era glamor girls, Madonna opens her ode to all things fabulous with her take on De Niro's endlessly quoted Taxi Driver soliloquy: "What are you lookin' at?"
Amanda Petruisch: The speaking part in this song is unbearably lame.
Tony Van Groningen: I used to know by heart the whole part in the middle where she sorta raps about all the old glamorous singers and dances.
Ian Mathers: The connection between "Dietrich and Dimaggio" has yet to occur to me.
Steve Lichtenstein: I still sing the breakdown part unironically when I hear this song. Though I often wonder what "gave good face" means. Dear God, I hope it’s not sexual.
Nick Southall: I’d still go nuts if someone dropped this in a club.
Tony Van Groningen: This song, for me, was mostly about Madonna looking really hot in stylish suits. Even at my relatively young age I could sense that this song was sexy. Thanks, Madonna, for a job well done!
Scott McKeating: The Word was the only way you could see decent bands from the US live if you lived up North. The basic format was a mouthy quick presenter with a tarty blonde co-host who would have guests in between gross stunts like snogging grans or licking sweaty armpits and brief pieces on S&M;, plastic surgery or leftfield subcultures. Sounds good, eh?
Ben Woolhead: The sort of chaos which routinely unfolded week in week out must have been enough to give the show’s producers a nervous breakdown.
Scott McKeating: Some bands I particularly who came on at the peak of their powers that I particularly remember were Nirvana (with the infamous C.Love comment), Gravediggaz, Faith No More, Ride, L7 (one of them showing her vagina), and Smashing Pumpkins
Nick Southall: Because my parents once caught my elder brother watching this, I was never allowed to stay up to within half an hour of it starting, lest it warp my fragile little mind. I can only thank my mum and dad from keeping Terry Christian out of my life at an impressionable age.
Ben Woolhead: The Word was perhaps most notable for possessing the most irritatingly smug presenter ever to be seen on British television, Terry Christian. Mercifully, appearances of his ugly grinning mug have been few and far between since the program’s demise.
Scott McKeating: Truly alternative comedy, Vic and Bob sidestepped the political style of comedy that was popular at the time and went into slapstick, surrealism and old school variety show stylings.
Nick Southall: "What’s on the end of the stick, Vic?!” I remember nothing else except being bemused. My brothers loved it. –
Ben Woolhead: The show that introduced Vic and Bob’s brand of comedy – a fusion of bizarre surrealism, farcical slapstick and toilet humor – to a frequently bewildered British TV audience.
Scott McKeating: The tiny cult literally exploded across the UK and everyone I knew (even parents etc) knew the catchphrases and characters.
Ben Woolhead: Featured a man with a stick
Nick Southall: The general public (which decidedly does include myself) knows Sinead for three things. Being bald, tearing up some photo or something on television, and "Nothing Compares 2 U,” which, as you can tell from the punctuation/diction/slightly insane spelling of the title, is a Prince cover.
Todd Burns: Every year seems to have a ballad that comes out of nowhere and wins the heart of the American public. I can’t imagine that anyone would’ve guessed that it would be this bald-headed chanteuse
Steve Lichtenstein: My dad called her ��sin-eee-ad’ which is problematic because he’s Irish and should know better. He also called Nintendo "9-10-dough," though, so maybe all bets are off. I love you, Dad.
Josh Timmermann: My first thought: Umm, she's bald. She, like, doesn't have any hair on her head.
Tony Van Groningen: Sinead has an amazing voice, a huge ego, and a terribly shiny head. Sorta like Tupac.
Ian Mathers: This song and its indelible video came out when I was nine years old, and for the first time in my life I understood how deeply emotionally affecting music could be. I’d heard plenty of good stuff before, but without the image of O’Connor, bigger than life, a tear slowly rolling down her cheek, it hadn’t really hit me
Tom May: The video is an odd case of a felt moment pinpointed.
Tony Van Groningen: I wasn’t old enough to appreciate this song when it first came out. It’s still not really my cup of tea, and I still think it’s a little cheesy in spite of the dead seriousness of Sinead herself in the video, but it’s just so damn different from what other people were making at the time that I still give it two thumbs up in spirit.
Nick Southall: This was at number one forever, and thus was something I reserved hatred for. And quite rightly! 11 year olds don’t want to be listening to histrionic love songs. God no. I was listening to Marillion and Guns N Roses.
Josh Timmermann: Then I heard about her trashing the Pope on Saturday Night Live, and suddenly everything somehow made a little more sense.
Todd Burns: Perhaps more notable for her subsequent appearance on Saturday Night Live, Sinead became the whipping girl of a thousand sketches for her unerring earnestness.
Andrew Unterberger: When Frank Sinatra threatens to kick your ass and you’re booed off the stage by Dylan fans, then yeah, you’ve got problems.
Ian Mathers: Now, of course, I can also appreciate that ��Nothing Compares 2 U’ was perhaps the finest vocal performance of the decade, definitely the finest vocal performance on such a huge song. Listen to the way one of the "to you”s near the end of the song slips into absolute, utter anguish. Still one of the best heartbreak songs ever. Of course, at the time, all I wanted to know was why was she crying, and why she couldn’t spell.
Andrew Unterberger: Ah, Dances With Wolves, the tragic and touching love story between a man and his wolf in a world they never made. Well, maybe. It’s been a while, y’ know?
Gabe Gloden: A quiet, solitary man (played by Kevin Costner) in war-torn times happens upon an oppressed people who help him realize that he cannot exist neutrally amongst the continuing bloodshed and injustice. Instead, he decides to help them battle the oppressive force that spawned him, thus redeeming himself. Note: Convenient capsule summary also compatible with most other Costner vehicles including Waterworld and The Postman.
Nick Southall: Somehow I’ve still managed never to see this, but every film Costner’s been involved with since No Way Out has had him playing the same role (troubled social outcast who saves the day despite his [justifiably acquired] misanthropy, quite possibly in a post-apocalyptic landscape), so I can just mentally transpose his character from Waterworld or The Postman into a quasi-Western setting and be done with it.
Todd Burns: After being labeled a hero in the aftermath of a courageous moment in a Civil War battle, John Dunbar (Kevin Costner) is offered the choice of serving wherever he wants. He takes a post in the far West, only to arrive finding the place deserted. He soon becomes friends with the Indians, meeting a white-woman who was raised by them and begins to shed his white ways, learning to live with the land and not against it.
Tony Van Groningen: I must admit, I was a sucker for this movie. It just seemed so…EPIC, which I’m sure is exactly what Kevin Costner really desperately wanted me to think
Tom May: A sprawling canvass in search of an easel and artist. Costner is no painter; layering on the 'right-on' sentiment with none of Field of Dreams’ bittersweet dexterity.
Tony Van Groningen: This was like the ultimate dad movie, and I say this because my dad only liked probably three movies and this was one of them. It has nature, drama, love, bravery, violence, and a moral- perfect dad fare. For the moms, there was Kevin Costner’s ass.
Andrew Unterberger: The one part of this movie that pretty much everyone remembers is when they kill the wolf.
Gavin Mueller: I have rarely cried at movies; the exception is when a lovable canine gets it. I cried at Turner & Hooch and I cried when they killed the wolf. Fuck you Costner, I haven't forgiven Tom Hanks, and I'll never forgive you.
Tony Van Groningen: Even looking back on it now through my much more jaded eyes, I think it is still a pretty decent movie, if not nearly as amazing as I once thought it was. The costumes, the sets, and yes, a lot of the acting was very well done. The plot was even OK until the rest of the accursed white men show up and crash the inter-cultural lovefest.
Josh Timmermann: Dances with Wolves should NOT receive credit for repopularizing the Western nor for finally paying Native Americans their proper respect. Instead, Kevin Costner should receive credit only for repopularizing that dubious sub-genre centering on studly white guys living amongst "savages", falling in love with their "exotic" culture, and ultimately fighting valiantly alongside his newfound brethren to defend their dying way of life from his fellow palefaced invaders. See also: The Last Samurai.
1990 was the fateful year that Rob & Fab were outed for being the highly foreign impersonators that they were at a horiffic Club MTV gig when their record started skipping, leaving a continuous and extremely ironic stream of "GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TR—GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TR—GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TR—”. Their 1989 Best New Artist Grammy was revoked (sweet vindication for the Indigo Girls!), they were left with about a sixteenth of the cred of Vanilla Ice and Color Me Badd, and at least one of them was driven to suicide. But a year later, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. denounced his creed to never appear lip synching in his videos, mouthing and dancing frantically in the video for "Losing My Religion.” Coincidence?
Todd Burns: In its bid to court athletes, rather than fitness consumers, Reebok introduced the Pump shoe in 1990.
Andrew Unterberger: Shoes are boring; I’m all for giving ��em gimmicks. Viva la velcro!
Nick Southall: I still don’t know exactly what the point of these things was. Was it like Nike Air only you pump it up yourself? Or was the pump a replacement for laces allowing you to pump the shoe up till it fitted? I mean wtf? Either way I wasn’t allowed a pair as my feet were still growing.
Tony Van Groningen: The Reebok Pump was the ultimate status symbol in eighth grade, even more so than satin football team jackets. Three kids in my class had Air Jordans. Only one kid had Reebok Pumps.
Todd Burns: The pump technology allows the shoe to fit more snugly against the foot, contrary to the popular belief that it allows a person to jump higher.
Ben Welsh: I remember trying to explain these to my grandmother. She thought they were some kind of high heel.
Eric Seguy: The concept behind Reebok Pump shoes was indeed a novel one; you pressed a rubber button on the tongue of the shoe, to fill out the shoe (Or was it just the sole?) with air. Then you–were able to jump hire? Run faster? The function was never fully explained to me, but as a young lad as unfit for athletic activity as he was for the menial social hierarchies of elementary school, just the idea of being able to press a button–and in turn, "pump" up your sociability and popularity–was immensely appealing.
Tony Van Groningen: Did they feel light? Can you tell the difference? Do you jump higher? Can I try them on for a few minutes, just once up and down the court? No? Ok. Jerk.
Gabe Gloden: By the time I got my hands on a pair of these bulky pieces of shit, they were already considered passé and I spent the rest of the year pursuing a pair of Air Jordans with the ferocity of the kid in "A Christmas Story”.
Eric Seguy: When my parents refused to buy me Pumps, I just about broke down in despair. I took to prowling the playground, scowling at those with the ugly basketball shoes, imagining ways to kill them and steal their Pumps. In retrospect, I realize that my obsession with Pumps was my first encounter with phallus envy; those who had the bigger Pumps were the Alpha-males, and would one day lord over the rest of us, taunting us with their romantic and monetary success. Vindication came only when I found a pair of Pumps in my neighbor’s garage, and, while he was away, punctured the button with a pen I found on the ground. He never caught me, and I still consider it one of my finer idealistic victories.
Joe Niemczyk: There once was a series of Calvin and Hobbes strips that went like this: Calvin orders a motorized beanie hat from the back of a cereal box, anxiously waits week upon agonizing week for it to arrive in the mail, and then ceremoniously dons it in a moment of triumph before flipping the switch. Instead of soaring above the clouds like he envisioned, he finds himself stuck on the ground as the propeller uselessly spins above his head. In a nutshell, that’s the story of the Reebok Pump.
Josh Timmermann: *Must...resist...temptation...to...make...Governor...Schwarzenegger...joke...*
Kareem Estefan: I wasn’t deeply conscious in 1990, but if I remember correctly, half the grown-ups I knew were asking me strange questions about my father, while the other half kept insisting they were stuck in a dream. And they all talked in these weird accents.
Todd Burns: In Kindergarten Cop, Arnold plays Detective John Kimble, attempting to corner his arch-nemesis, Cullen Crisp. In a strange twist of fate, the only person that might be able to testify against him is his ex-wife, who must be found among the inhabitants of a sleepy Oregon town. Hilarity ensues as Arnold goes undercover as a Kindergarten teacher to find the kid that Crisp fathered and eventually his mother.
Ian Mathers: Ha ha, what a stupid idea, let’s give Ah-nuld a comedy role!
Nick Southall: The 90s where when it all started to go to shit for poor old Arnie. Look at the 80s classics he’d been involved with; Predator, Terminator, Running Man - hell, even Commando was amusing. But then the triple-whammy of these two and Twins, oh dear. T2 was a stay of execution, but it was obvious from the moment he sat in that classroom surrounded by germ-sized children that it was over.
Ian Mathers: This movie should have sucked so, so much. But it didn’t. Why? Picture Arnold bellowing "Who is your daddy and what does he do?” Or, "It’s not a tumor!” Or even just, "Shut up shut up shut up!”
Steve Lichtenstein: Deserves acknowledgment for, if nothing else, allowing slow-witted people everywhere the rarely appropriate rejoinder that something isn’t a tumor. Acknowledgment, legal action - same thing.
Joe Niemczyk: "TAKE YOUR TOY BACK TO THE CARPET!” "IT’S NOT A TUMOR!” "HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I HIT YOU?” "THERE IS NO BATHROOM!”
Andrew Unterberger: The amount of classic sound bytes from this movie alone would necessitate that Arnie sound board that’s been floating around the internet for a while.
Ian Mathers: I defy anyone who once saw the film to go to its entry at the Internet Movie Database, check out the ��memorable quotes’ section, and not laugh.
Gavin Mueller: The scene in which Arnold has a nightmare at his teacher's desk where Crisp points a gun at him through the window in slow motion is one of the most chilling movie moments of my young life.
Andrew Unterberger: He slides onto the screen and then points a gun at Arnie. Perhaps being such a supervillian, he was ahead of the curve and was already on rollerblades? Did Arnie’s school have conveyor belts instead of sidewalks? Whatever, you never get to see his feet, so all we can do is merely speculate.
Eric Seguy: Kindergarten Cop is most notable for epitomizing the career trajectory of the archetypal 90's Lost Actress. Penelope Ann Miller’s scintillating performances in the dual roles of Joyce Palmari and Rachel Crisp proved to be the apexes of her short-lived time in the public eye. Miller would now be dismissed as a boring frump with an awful triumvirate namesake. At the height of uber-fame until the paralyzing anti-humor of The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag, the death knells of 1994's The Shadow ensured that Miller’s reign of thespian-related terror would finally be ended. But let us return to those simpler times, in which Penelope Ann Miller might coyly flirt with Arnold, and we held her dear...having no way of knowing that a mere decade later, she’d be awkwardly, terribly seducing a vulnerable Latino youth in All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. Tonight I drink for you, Penelope Ann.
Nick Southall: With hindsight Arnie’s role in Total Recall would seem to be custom-made for Keanu Reeves. Who’d have thunk that in 14 years Arnie would be on his way to ruling the ��free’ world?
Todd Burns: In Total Recall, Arnold plays Douglas Quaid, a man who has had his memory erased and believes he is a construction worker on Earth. He often dreams of Mars, however, and chooses to take a virtual tour there. The trip gets botched and Arnold is suddenly confronted by the people who he once knew as a mortal enemy. In order to figure out what is going on, Arnold has to stay alive, actually travel to Mars and regain his real memories. Based on a story by Phillip K. Dick.
Ian Mathers: Although Dick’s visions are still getting butchered in so-so film fare like Paycheck, anything that gets people closer to reading works like Ubik or The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch gets brownie points.
Tony Van Groningen: This movie blew my mind when I first saw it, rounding out the Badass Arnold Trilogy along with Terminator 2 and Predator. I didn’t realize then how much it was lifting from other, older sci-fi classics- I was just blown away by the holographic tennis coaches and X-Ray walls and sheer pointless violence.
Andrew Unterberger: The camp value of the scene with Arnie posing as a fat woman with an exploding robotic head is almost as great as that of the scene where he shoves a giant screw up a guys nose and through his head.
Sam Hunt: In this movie, Arnold Schwarzenneger almost gets to make it with a 3-boobed girl.
Gavin Mueller: Not only the first time I saw breasts in a movie, but the first time I saw THREE breasts on one woman in a movie. The sexual confusion this caused persists to this very day.
Andrew Unterberger: "Oooh, baby, you make me wish that I had THREE hands!”
Sam Hunt: I was very proud that I was able to understand this movie when I first saw it, as its plot is almost as confusing as Back To The Future 2.
Tony Van Groningen: The veneer of a plot just made it that much sweeter to my young mind. I always wondered why the guns didn’t look futuristic, but what is there to improve on an uzi, really?
Sam Hunt: He also gets to deliver some of his most classic lines, including the oft-overlooked "You got what you want, Kohagen, now give dees people air!”
Andrew Unterberger: Kindergarten Cop had the sound bytes, but Total Recall had the one-liners--”CONSIDAH THIS A DIVORCE!!” "SCREW YOU!!!”
Tony Van Groningen: I won’t watch this movie anymore because I doubt it would live up to my memories of it- but in my mind, it is legend.
Adrien Begrand: Clean-cut guys in cowboy hats singing Michael Bolton-style ballads with fiddles and pedal steel guitar. It was safe, pre-packaged, and wholesome. Of course the public bought into it.
Tony Van Groningen: In 1990, I hated my sister and she really liked Garth Brooks. Ergo, I never gave him a chance even though I grew up in a small cowboy town and virtually every girl in my school was infatuated with the guy and pretending to like him would have been a smart tactical move.
Todd Burns: The importance of a new country music can’t be understated. Revitalizing the genre, Brooks took pop and country and put it together, crossing the boundaries of the two and making him a huge star in the process.
Tony Van Groningen: He was so popular that even the non-cowboy kids in my classes started wearing wranglers and black cowboy hats. I have no idea if Garth Brooks had this kind of impact in other places, but he was a god to a large population of people where I lived. Imagine a gymnasium full of high school freshmen year olds earnestly bellowing out the lyrics to "Friends in Low Places” and 12 year old girls shedding a tear every time "The Thunder Rolls” came on and you will begin to understand what it was like for me.
Andrew Unterberger: I am proud to say that, unlike with any other non-crossover country song, I know all the words to the chorus of "Friends in Low Places.” So if I ever find myself in a bar somewhere down south, at least there’ll be one possible bonding point.
Josh Timmermann: Take it from someone born and raised in the "heartland,": you haven't *lived* until you've seen a dude in full cowboy get-up (hat, boots, nut-hugger jeans) karaoke to "The Dance." You'll either feel like crying or puking.
Nick Southall: God what a knobhead. At least Billy Ray Cyrus had the decency to be in a David Lynch film.
Todd Burns: Brooks certainly doesn’t get the credit he deserves among critics, but to fans he’s one of the greatest and best-selling artists of all time. Too many long car rides with some of these fans have proven this.
Tony Van Groningen: Looking back on it all, I’m happy to say that even though I still to this day never really intentionally listen to pop country, I can appreciate the impact that Garth Brooks had on the genre as legitimate pop music. And he seems like a pretty OK guy, too.
Evan Chakroff: I would have loved to be in the room when Tim Burton came up with this one. I want some of those drugs.
Ian Mathers: Tim Burton was coming off of a bit of a hot streak after Beetlejuice and Batman, and here he gave his first real indication that he was going to make whatever he wanted to, but that it’d all have the dreamy/creepy Burton stamp. And Depp proved for the first time to a wider audience that he was actually more than just a pretty boy.
Gabe Gloden: Tim Burton’s masterpiece created in the middle of his most creative period that began with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in ’85 and continued through Ed Wood in ’94. This movie has become a staple midnight feature at college theaters around the country, and for good reason. It’s hysterical and sad and hysterically sad in equal measures.
Amanda Petruisch: Edward Scissorhands belies Tim Burton’s insanely ambitious filmic agenda: to wed Spielbergian sap with disobedient imagery. I’m not sure he gets it entirely right, but I dig his agenda anyway.
Todd Burns: Johnny Depp plays the title character in this fanciful tale of a man discovered by an Avon Lady and adopted by her family.
Andrew Unterberger: I don’t know why they didn’t go that extra step and cast Robert Smith of The Cure as Edward. They could’ve saved a whole lot on makeup that way, at least.
Josh Timmermann: The coolest thing about this movie is that Tim Burton convinced one of his childhood idols, Vincent Price, to appear in it. The second-coolest thing is that Johnny Depp HAS SCISSORS FOR HANDS!
Ben Woolhead: Edward was a troubled young man, presumably all the more so because, unlike other troubled young men, he had a condition which prevented him from releasing some of his tension and frustration by indulging in the pleasures of the palm.
Ian Mathers: He then gets to live in a brilliant pastel suburbia, create incredible haircuts and hedges, fall in love with Winona Ryder and experience serious levels of prejudice.
Andrew Unterberger: Beauty doesn’t get too much more obvious than that scene with Winona dancing under those Scissorhand-provided ice flakes. I tear up just thinking about it.
Michael Heumann: What is it with Tim Burton and his inability to tell a complete story? We get this wonderful setup, these beautiful characters (with a sublime performance by Johnny Depp), and…what does he do with it? He reverts (in the third act) to a Simpsons angry mob formula, only without the irony.
Ian Mathers: You’d think this would just be a nostalgia trip now, but it still has a fairy tale power.
Nick Southall: This scared the shit out of me so much that I’ve never gone back to it, despite loving Johnny Depp quite possibly more than I should.
Gavin Mueller: Winona, I love you, just never go blonde again. And call me.
Todd Burns: It seems fitting that the moment that rap was being legitimized in the mainstream by the socially conscious Public Enemy, it was also being popularized by ridiculous figures like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice.
Gabe Gloden: These guys were two crap artists that were totally disdained by the hip hop community, yet for young, suburban lads like me, they were the ones that took you by the hand and led you safely into the dungy basement of hip hop culture that had previously scared the Bee-Jesus out of us, thanks to NWA and 2 Live Crew.
Ben Woolhead: In contrast to Public Enemy, these two were the "acceptable” face of rap, though how any sane person could possibly consider them acceptable God only knows.
Ian Mathers: Where I grew up, admitting to liking either of these guys was asking for a kick in the head. Luckily, we all hated them and would have without corrective measures.
Sam Hunt: Was there a conflict or rivalry here? If there was, I was not aware of it, thank god. I thought you were allowed to love both of these dudes equally. I know I did.
Sam Hunt: MC Hammer was an Oakland Athletic-affiliated friendly rapper, the title of whose hit album pleaded that the artist not "Hurt ��Em.” The first song warned the listener "Here Comes The Hammer!” Then, when he finally arrived it turned out that "U Can’t Touch This.”
Josh Timmermann: This one kid I knew back then had a t-shirt with an arrow pointing down and above it written "U Can't Touch This." To my recollection, nobody ever did.
Tony Van Groningen: Has ever a career been as huge yet faded so quickly? MC Hammer was absolutely immense in 1990, even if you didn’t like him you sure as hell heard about him. He even cracked the conservative Christian demographic with "Pray,” which has historically been a difficult target market to breach for shirtless black men.
Akiva Gottlieb: After purchasing twin copies of the "2 Legit 2 Quit” single, the first cassette tapes of our young lives, my older brother told me that MC Hammer was the only man alive who could flick his index and middle fingers up and down with such superhuman speed and agility. He told me it had been well-documented, and I believed him. A little more than ten years later, we are no longer on speaking terms.
Tony Van Groningen: White sixth grade kids everywhere were trying to figure out how to shave lines into the side of their heads, Ray Ban saw a 58% rise in profit, grandmas cried when they saw kids going to church in hammer pants.
Ian Mathers: It’s all about the pants. You can hate the music, but you can’t resist the pants.
Amanda Petruisch: Hammer was 90% pants for me. Those pants (spectacular, always, in gold!) seemed to move independently of his legs.
Ben Woolhead: Popularized the wearing of trousers so capacious and billowing they practically needed guy ropes to keep them secure
Evan Chakroff: I remember hammerpants. I owned several pairs. Looking back, it'd be nice to say I was hip to fashion trends, but in reality it was the fatness of my ass that determined the hammerness of my attire.
Ian Mathers: In retrospect MC Hammer was the lesser of two evils, at least until "2 Legit 2 Quit” rolled along.
Nick Southall: Vanilla Ice looked a bit like Billy Idol, and sampled "Under Pressure”, so therefore he wins this particular contest by a quantum distance.
Ian Mathers: The best thing about Vanilla Ice, of course, was the bassline he stole from Queen and David Bowie.
Andrew Unterberger: Nah, see "Under Pressure” went dumdumdum dada dum dum. dumdumdum da da dum dum. "Ice Ice Baby” went dumdumdum da da dum-dum CHK. dumdumdum da da dum-dum. It’s totally different.
Nick Southall: As an 11-year old I loved "Ice Ice Baby.”
Tony Van Groningen: Mix one insanely catchy song, some genuine charisma, and a fucking weird haircut and all of a sudden you’re bigger than Jesus for a few months.
Ben Welsh: Who remembers Ice's explosive cameo in the second TMNT movie? I wish I did. I missed it because I was with my mom in the lobby. Splinter scared the fuck outta me.
Sam Hunt: There was a lot of controversy concerning V-Ice’s background (was he a former gang member? A championship biker? A cornfed preppie?), which made the whole phenomenon that much more exciting.
Tony Van Groningen: You know you’re kinda screwed when white kids call you the "wack MC Hammer.”
Sam Hunt: Let me tell you, having read Ice’s autobiography, Ice By Ice, I can tell you that the stories are all true. All of them. I only wish I had known about the whole getting hung by his feet out a window and pissing his pants story. I probably would’ve thought he was even cooler.
Gabe Gloden: To this day, most 20-somethings can still belt out "Ice Ice Baby”, verbatim, when prompted. All it takes is an "Alright Stop!”
Sam Bloch: Go ninja, go ninja, go.
To Sleep with Anger
Danny Glover (whose star status aided director Charles Burnett in acquiring financing for the film) gives the best performance of his career in this gem of a movie. The story involves mysterious southerner Harry Mention (Glover) paying an old friend and his family a visit in Los Angeles and then proceeding to turn their life upside down. Rife with mystical overtones and brimming with good-heartedness and empathy, this is one of the best movies ever made about African American family life.
Not so much forgotten per se (it’s played semi-frequently on cable movie channels) as it is perennially underappreciated, Peter Weir’s best film since Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of the decade’s most genuinely romantic comedies. Gerard Depardieu is just perfect as the charmingly buffoonish Georges, attempting to attain citizenship by marrying an American woman, and as the woman who agrees to the deal, Andie MacDowell is his every bit his match. The two have terrific onscreen chemistry; their farewell scene is as bittersweet a tear-jerker as Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s in Lost in Translation.
Andrew Unterberger: 1990 was the year the Madchester scene finally just blew up, with that incredible baggy sound and all those great bands.
Ben Woolhead: A few high-profile endorsements from the Madchester set, and suddenly – and ironically – Joe Bloggs was the name on everybody’s lips, just as it was on everybody’s jeans and T-shirts.
Scott McKeating: The previous years Madchester EP kicked it off and we were all wearing zipped up coats and dancing like Bez.
Tom May: Manchester dances with a magpie's zeal.
Ben Woolhead: Bez patented a unique method of dancing that seemed to draw inspiration from the antics of a goggle-eyed and loose-limbed monkey on the search for bananas (or, in Bez’s case, drugs).
Andrew Unterberger: In the Pills n Thrills & Bellayches liners, Shaun’s listed as vocals, Paul’s listed as bass and Bez is listed as Bez. Now come on, how awesome is that?
Kareem Estefan: The Mondays’ third album, Pills N’ Thrills N’ Bellyaches, is chill, Madchester style. Never mind if the album’s best song is actually a rip off of "Lady Marmalade” or if you can’t tell the difference between half the other tracks; this only reminds you how hopped up on drugs they were…which is a good thing, right?
Eric Seguy: Only a group of thuggish, drug-addled Britons could have the audacity to pilfer "Lady Marmalade"’s dulcet tones and pass it off as an original creation called "Kinky Afro."
Akiva Gottlieb: "Bob’s Yer Uncle.” If you’ve ever met me, the uninhibited, scantily-clad nymphomaniacs in my harem, or my uncle Bob, then you know that this song is my life story.
Eric Seguy: The subsequent implosion of the band was messy and contains an important moral for burgeoning musicians; never cede control of your group to an erratic megalomaniac with a penchant for making dance music.
Scott McKeating: Pills and Thrills brought the pharmacy lifestyle into youth culture with the bonus that it was really well produced and you could dance to it without needing any rhythm at all.
Adrien Begrand: This album is definitely Madchester's high water mark. "Kinky Afro", "Loose Fit", "God's Cop", and the unforgettable hook in "Step On" make this one of those insanely danceable albums that appeal to people who hate dancing.
Nick Southall: Oh, The Charlatans. This would be their best tune if they’d never written "Feelin’ Holy” or "Sproston Green”. I used to dance to this when I was 11 but now I’ve got dodgy knees from football.
Andrew Unterberger: The Charlatans’ most loved moment—and all their other early moments, really—was sub-”Fools’ Gold” Madchester-lite. But it was pretty good for what it was.
Nick Southall: They’re not even from Manchester, which is probably something to do with how they actually managed to make a career despite the fact that the only Madchester band they were better than is Northside
Adrien Begrand: Yeah, they're a bit on the bland side, but I've always had a soft spot for the Charlies. "The Only One I Know" was one of the first songs from the UK at that time that really got my attention (I was a bit slow), with that great Hammond riff and the shameless psychedelic rock rip-off.
Nick Southall: In 1990; I thought The Stone Roses completely without glamour or magic and paid them no mind except to tell my brother, who was a fan, how ��rubbish’ and ��ugly’ they were. Inside five years I’d have completely changed my mind and so would they.
Adrien Begrand: "One Love" sounds like the beginning of the end. It's just plain tepid and uninspired, sounding burned out compared to the glorious first album.
Nick Southall: In the rush to romanticize Spike Island and the Roses people forget that a; it was in the middle of a chemical plant and officially one of the most polluted areas in Europe (hence a cheap place to have a gig!), b; the sound was awful and c; somebody died in the crush at the front.
Andrew Unterberger: "One Love” and the Spike Island gig were The Stone Roses’ last grasp at greatness before they, like the Mondays, practically imploded.
Ian Mathers: "Loaded.” In which Andrew Weatherall both made his reputation and saved a bunch of C69 chancers from the cod MC5 ��rawk’ hell they’d fallen into.
Andrew Unterberger: All of a sudden, all of these great indie bands were making Madchester-sounding crossover records. My Bloody Valentine made one. Primal Scream made one.
Ian Mathers: Taking the best song from their second album (��I’m Losing More Than I Ever Had’), Weatherall fashioned it into a towering behemoth of what would soon be a ��scene’ of sorts.
Tom May: Resounds to this day, as an example of the new hedonism in British life; like The Mondays' "Step On", there is a torrential urge to stomp one's self towards its orbit.
Ben Welsh: "We want to be free! We want to be free…to do what we want to do! And we wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party!”
Ben Woolhead: Kill all hippies? Well, Bobby, strictly speaking you should have started with yourselves
Kareem Estefan: Primal Scream’s two 1990 singles were of paramount importance to the music world. Here was party, here was house music, here were horns and love, all joined to unite the British world in an ecstasy-fueled celebration the likes of which had never been seen before.
Andrew Unterberger: Ghost, a love story from beyond the grave, except without much of the coolness or non-sappiness that such a title would imply.
Nick Southall: This was one of the first films in the UK to be given the ��12’ certificate, after Batman the year earlier. I was only 11 but my mum took me to see it anyway! Rock n roll!
Todd Burns: Patrick Swayze plays Sam Wheat, a man who was killed during a mugging gone wrong. His spirit, however, remains on Earth with his girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) and it soon becomes clear that he is there to help her and keep her safe from the evil machinations of Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn).
Nick Southall: Why the fuck I wanted to see this in the first place is beyond me now though. I think the pre-adolescent me found the idea of making a sloppy pot with someone hideously erotic or something.
Gabe Gloden: Thanks to that horrible pottery scene, this movie has permanently ruined "Unchained Melody” for me.
Andrew Unterberger: I never got that scene--pottery is quite possibly the least erotic of all the fine arts. Couldn’t they have done stained glass instead?
Todd Burns: Sam enlists the help of Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) to contact his girlfriend, as she seems to be the only one who is able to hear Sam in the real world. Whoop won an Academy Award for this, I believe.
Nick Southall: Whoopi’s turn as the most literal take on the ��magic negro’ cliché thus far seen on the big screen would qualify as a career nadir if she’d ever done anything better; as she didn’t I guess it must therefore be described as a ��solid’ performance.
Andrew Unterberger: After a little while, an equally dead Vince Schiavelli shows Swayze the ropes of proving your existence to loved ones, getting revenge on the people that got you dead, and most importantly, fucking with people on trains.
Gavin Mueller: The giant shard of glass impaling that Goldwyn guy at the end: so very badass.
Andrew Unterberger: In the end, Swayze has done his bit and ascends to heaven, while Demi goes to hell and stars in Indecent Proposal three years later.
Tom May: *The* tournament that made the 7-year-old me a fan of football.
Todd Burns: For Americans, 1990 was the first World Cup in which the generation that was born around the time of Pele’s popularity came of age, catapulting the national team to respectability. And while the team fared quite poorly (losing 5-1 to Czechslovakia, as well as losses to Italy and Austria), it was the first time the country had been in the World Cup since 1950. It was also the first time, in many years, that England had gotten within a penalty kick of the Finals, losing to eventual champion West Germany.
Ben Welsh: Both Italy and England both fall dramatically in the semis on PKs. The US falls out 0-3 and the USSR makes its final Cup appearance. The mascot was this freaky lego monster with a soccer ball for head. I think it was named Ciao.
Ben Woolhead: The World Cup mascot Ciao looked like he’d been created using the pieces of a broken Rubik’s cube.
Tom May: Italia '90 as it was always known to me contained so many characters and it was before the era of Sky TV and absurdly excessive wages and transfer fees. I lived in the North East and Gazza was a true folk hero, even for Sunderland fans! Gascoigne was an incendiary, impossibly skilled player for the England side. I saw the whole England side as heroes though; cheering with the drama of Platt's late goal against Belgium and in empathic agony with the semi final defeat.
Ben Woolhead: David Platt’s dramatic over-the-shoulder volley against Belgium remains one of the most beautifully executed goals I’ve ever seen. After a match which we narrowly won 3-2 thanks to a couple of Lineker penalties, Sir Bobby Robson paid tribute to the emergence of Cameroon as a force on the world stage in his own inimitable fashion: "We didn’t underestimate them. They were just a lot better than we thought”. There’s probably a space probe circling Earth still looking for the ball that Chris Waddle launched into the stratosphere from the penalty spot.
Tom May: Cameroon beating Argentina in the great upset of an opener; "One brother's sent off; the other brother scores...! Amazing...!" So many memories: the brilliant 38-year-old Roger Milla confounding all critics... the Colombian keeper Higuita messing about with the ball outside his box... "Ah... wouldn' a like t' be in David O'Leary's shoes here, he... he's nad really a penaldy taker!"... brilliant-sounding names like Oman Biyck, Goycochea, Stoikovic... it was all lapped up by this dazzled lad of 7.Italia '90 was fabulous football theatre, all in a country that loved football, unlike USA '94 which for me was a profound damb squib in comparison.
Scott McKeating: I don't follow the game at all, but this World Cup seemed to bring a real sort of community fun spirit to the game as opposed to the nationalistic thug mentality. I'm not sure if that was Hooky's doing though.
Andrew Unterberger: New Order, a band who permanently changed the face of dance music with their incredibly innovative, emotional and brilliant singles over the course of the 1980s finally got to #1 in 1990 with "World in Motion,” the theme to the 1990 World Cup and quite possibly the dumbest song ever written. How delicious.
Scott McKeating: "World in Motion" was a pretty unavoidable song during that Summer, thank god it was a great song.
Tom May: John Barnes' rap is splendid, heartening amateurism
Adrien Begrand: That New Order song was an embarrassment. Why it was put on the Best Of CD, I'll never know. I don't ever want to hear John Barnes' rap performance again.
Tom May: I had no sense of the history of appalling past football songs, so it maybe didn't strike me as unusual in the slightest; I liked it though "Nessun Dorma" was the true theme of the tournament for me..
Todd Burns: On the eve of the final game, the Three Tenors (José Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti) performed a monumental concert. It became a musical phenomenon that spawned best selling CDs and generally raised the profile of classical music.
Andrew Unterberger: Yeah, that’s right, opera. And it was like a really huge hit, too.
Tom May: To be honest, "Nessun Dorma" moved my young, impressionable heart far more than "World in Motion". Pavarotti's towering voice and the shattering drama and pathos of this opera tune won the country and myself over. For a time, everything seemed to be Italian: those teenaged 'Turtles', the increasingly predilections for pizza…
Todd Burns: As Domingo claims: "Opera and football cross all boundaries, because they speak the same language: the language of emotion.”
Todd Burns: This show was helped by the explosion of video cameras and their use in documenting the daily lives of people everywhere. As expected, many of the videos that were filmed featured humorous occurrences.
Ian Mathers: Every week you get to see the dumbest/funniest/most painful looking home videos sent in by various yahoos. A chief exemplar of the "If it’s funny once, it’s funny a thousand times” school of TV comedy, which almost never works.
Andrew Unterberger: Little kids skinned their knees. Grannies dropped their pants. Clumsy pets fell large distances. And everyone laughed, laughed, laughed.
Todd Burns: A glorified clip show, America’s Funniest Home Videos usually focused on a set of different themes: children, pets and staged prat falls.
Ian Mathers: The best videos all involved cats being hurt or someone being hit in the groin with a flying object. That tells you something about the caliber and tastefulness of the videos shown.
Michael Heumann: As Homer Simpson says, "But Football in the Groin has a football in the groin!"
Ian Mathers: The ��classic’ run was hosted by Bob Saget.
Amanda Petruisch: Most of America’s Funniest Home Videos are, like, perversely violent. I mean, no cute Bob Saget voiceover can erase the pain of sawing off your foot.
Steve Lichtenstein: Until they aired Bob Saget’s vasectomy by olive fork, the show never quite lived up to its title.
Ian Mathers: I fucking hated Full House, and I especially fucking hated Bob Saget. I did take some small solace from the fact that he clearly hated his job and the subhuman troglodytes competing for prizes and was just in it for the paycheck, but his smarm still made me flee the room.
Evan Chakroff: I'm pretty sure Bob Saget could have been a serial killer and no one would have known.
Ian Mathers: When you think about it, this was proto-reality TV. It’s not just people making fools of themselves, it’s ��real’ people. Gauche, shrill, and annoyingly repetitive, it was also car-wreck captivated and whetted the public’s appetite for harming themselves in return for cold, hard cash.
Andrew Unterberger: Twin Peaks. David Lynch--the guy who made Blue Velvet and Eraserhead--goes primetime.
Ben Welsh: I was pretty clueless about this one. I remember hoping it was some kind of porn. All I really knew was that it had to better than the grainy VHS dupe of National Lampoon’s Vacation I was jerking off to at the time.
Todd Burns: Created and produced by David Lynch and Mark Frost (Hill Street Blues), Twin Peaks was one of the strangest marriages in television history: something both extremely artistic and extremely popular. The show ran for two seasons and now has a large cult following.
Adrien Begrand: The first season of this show was some of the best television ever made. Who cared if it made little sense at the end? The show was so hypnotic, you simply gave in. Its twisted humor was its saving grace. The refrain of "The Norwegians are leaving!" still cracks me up today.
Tom May: Magnificent: TV finally learning how to play with convention and open previously barred doors.
Amanda Petruisch: Twin Peaks was just brilliant television: one of the first (and maybe the last?) shows to transcend the medium in such a perverse and horrifying and SMART way. It might be the best thing David Lynch has ever done. Plus, Special Agent Dale Cooper was unbelievably sexy (Kyle MacLachlan, of course, is not.)
Todd Burns: The main story arc of the series revolved around the murder of Laura Palmer, although several shorter subplots emerged in the second season.
Eric Seguy: "Who killed Laura Palmer?" Who cares? Much like the series’ deviation from the main plot-line, I soon found my precocious child-mind wandering away from the inscrutable murder plot and into the tender arms of Twin Peaks’ glorious smorgasbord of women. They came in every shape and size, age and stature; even cold and dead. There was the sex-bomb strut of Audrey Horne; the ripened beauty of Norma Cooke; the terrifying, bird-like mawkishness of Nadine Hurley. But let’s not forget Lucy Moran, the helium-voiced secretary; Blackie, the mysterious brothel mistress; Donna, who I could never really "get into" because of her chaste purity; the Log Lady’s gentle oddness.
Michael Heumann: Has there ever been a better acting performance than Kyle MacLaughlin as Agent Cooper?
Andrew Unterberger: I envision Lynch obsessively watching reruns of Sex and the City, wondering when, when Kyle was going to come back to him.
Eric Seguy: Twin Peaks’ greatest mystery was never explained to me; that is, why would Bobby or James choose Laura Palmer’s soft figure and bland demeanor (Though I suppose it was rather dangerous, her being a cokehead/prostitute) over any or all of the above? Here is the answer: they were simple-minded fools, with no palette for life’s more subtle pleasures.
Tom May: Summer 2000 I first caught this on the Sci-Fi Channel, and just loved its sense of "anything goes;" sublimely absurd moments of humor, tragic events and the gorgeous sense of a distinct community in crisis, but shown in a movingly romantic, noirish light. A murder mystery that becomes something intangible, and clearly much more.
Nick Southall: I’m glad I didn’t watch this until the DVD set was released last year; I can’t begin to fathom how much the spaz-dancing, backwards-singing dream-dwarf would have fucked me up.
Josh Timmermann: Even now as reality-geared programs challenge folks to suck down cow cock smoothies, David Lynch's brainchild remains one of the strangest, most legitimately surreal phenomena to ever invade American pop culture. Just imagine what we'd have been in for had ABC not passed on the Mulholland Drive pilot!
Michael Heumann: American television was not ready for this program (still isn't—witness ABC's refusal to pickup Mulholland Drive as a series), so it died an early death. But the simple fact that this wonderful, confusing, surreal show even made it to ABC should be a testament that, damn it, the world doesn't have to suck.
One of my most vivid memories of the ��90s was the plethora of birthday parties held at the city skate rink The Fun Factory, where the birthday girls and boys strapped on their black-and-fluoro rollerblades and sped around soundtracked by the latest Top 40 hits. The year of 1990 was an embarrassment of riches as far as pop music was concerned, and there was no better pop confection for blading and skating up a storm to on the Factory’s rubberised concrete arena than MC Hammer’s "U Can’t Touch This”. From the irrepressible Hammer himself ("Makes me say ��Oh My Lord!’/Thankyou for blessing me/With a mouth to rhyme and two hype feet”) to the oh-ohh-ing breakdowns and the undeniable funk of Rick James’ heavily sampled "Super Freak”, it remains one of the most oddly thrilling moments in early commercial hip hop and R&B.; Oh yeah, and there was no beating when the Factory sound system blasted out, "Stop! Hammer time” and all the skaters and bladders changed direction.
Honourable Mentions: "Groove Is In The Heart”–Deee Lite, "Better The Devil You Know”–Kylie Minogue, "Unbelievable”–EMF.
Akiva Gottlieb: Let the critics have their Taxi Driver, let the masochists have their New York, New York, and let those who don’t know Martin Scorsese have their Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, but any man with a sense of style knows that Goodfellas is probably the coolest movie ever made
Andrew Unterberger: Goodfellas pretty much did for the Mafia what All the President’s Men did for journalism
Todd Burns: The Mafia has always been an American fascination. The idea of power—its construction, its maintenance, its eventual corruption—is of prime storytelling power, it’s the perfect arc.
Nick Southall: I hate Scorcese and everything he’s ever done with a dull passion, but Goodfellas is the absolute worst. The film that people who don’t like films always cite as the best film ever. "It’s about gangsters, it’s so cool!” Oh fuck off.
Andrew Unterberger: Ray Liotta plays some schnook picked up by the Mafia, dusted off and prepared for a life of glorious, glorious transgression.
Todd Burns: In this film, we follow Ray Liotta on this road towards destruction, with key parts being played by Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci. In fact, what people probably remember, if anything, is Pesci’s "You think I’m funny?” scene.
Andrew Unterberger: Oh, Joe Pesci. "You think I’m funny? What, am I a fucking clown here for your amusement?” Well, yeah, Joe. Pretty much.
Nick Southall: Even Joe motherfucking Pesci can’t rescue it. This film really is just an excuse for two hours of cultural fetishisation, mindless violence and misogyny. Utter victory of style over content. The types of people I knew at university who loved this film were without exception dickwads.
Amanda Petruisch: Goodfellas was fantastic, gripping, horrifying – but it was also funny. In the end, I think it was Scorsese’s irreverence that made Goodfellas so brilliant.
Nick Southall: How can anybody love a film that a; has no plot and b; has no characters worth caring of and c; has no dragons / robots / giant sharks (Liotta excepted) and d; isn’t a Japanese cartoon featuring all of the above?
Michael Heumann: Okay, Raging Bull might be a masterpiece, but Goodfellas is just plain more fun to watch. This is the working class mafia movie, the mafia that doesn't live in big mansions and don't always have enough to pay the bills. It never grows old, and it never grows stale.
Todd Burns: After ending the welfare state and championing the free market, along with Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher stepped down after 11 years as Prime Minister of England.
Scott McKeating: She and Reagan were best pals, both 'thinking' alike politically, meaning we accepted his nuclear cruise missiles.
Tom May: An event that seemed much more sensational than the end of the cold war, oddly. The hate all people around me had for her and all she stood for was evident and affecting. There was a brief, wonderfully odd spell that day where early junior school playground games became concerned with politics in a topical sense! This event was quite frankly everywhere for a short time...
Scott McKeating: In her early career as Education minister she stopped free milk in schools, helping to weaken the bones of the generations of Miners and poll tax protesters who she would send the police into with horses and truncheons during the miners strike and poll tax riots. She apparently got elected as Prime Minister in order to sort out the country and instead she fucked it with a milk spurting spiked metal dildo.
Todd Burns: Her role as the first woman prime minister typified the 80s and its unfiltered greed. Her stepping down marked the end of an era.
Scott McKeating: Unemployment rose as she as rambled on about free markets and encouraging competition and entrepreneurs, one of her primary goals in the rape and privatization was focusing on stopping the Trade Unions being able to support their members in the workplace. She privatized our public owned industries selling them to fat fucking businessman interested in quick profits and big payoffs. How she got elected three times is utterly beyond me.
Ben Woolhead: Sadly she was stabbed in the back only in a metaphorical sense. If Maggie was the Iron Lady, then her replacement was hardly the Iron Man. John Major had the personality and pallor of a corpse, and the sort of feeble straining voice which in Parliament made him seem like a hapless supply teacher struggling in vain to exert some authority over an unruly class.
Scott McKeating: Lenin is quoted as saying that politics is about "who could do what to whom", and boy did she do it to us. There's an image of Thatcher getting into her car that night she resigned burnt into my brain.
Andrew Unterberger: "Cradle of Love” was the last stand from one of the 80s’ most iconic dinosaurs.
Todd Burns: Idol turned in one last hurrah on this hit single from his Charmed Life album.
Adrien Begrand: The entire Whiplash Smile album was dreadful...remember that cover of "LA Woman"? Idol was nothing without Steve Stevens.
Todd Burns: With the help of the risqué video, Idol was once again able to justify his rock-star lifestyle.
Gabe Gloden: This was the only music video that I ever had to awkwardly turn off when I heard one of my parents enter the room.
Adrien Begrand: The video was banned here in Canada.
Andrew Unterberger: Some hot chick invading this guy’s uptight existence—for some unexplained reason—and she’s just gotta dance! He spills some wine on her and oh! off comes the blouse. It’s all kinda like a condensed Risky Business.
Nick Southall: Best haircut ever, and that’s all I have to say.
Michael Heumann: Hey, Teletubbies was years away; potheads needed something to occupy their time.
Gavin Mueller: Honing my analytical skills at a young age, Where's Waldo was the perfect picture book for young nerds.
Ian Mathers: A series of large, interchangeable picture books, the Where’s Waldo series each consisted of a number of large, two-page panoramas filled with various characters (usually thematic; cowboys, aliens, etc). Somewhere within was the grinning, bespectacled red-and-white clad Waldo; in addition to finding him, most of the books had other little objects to find.
Todd Burns: The world of children’s book was turned upside down with the arrival of the red and white striped hero. The oversize books featured enormous scenes of all sorts, placing Waldo half behind poles, walls, etc.
Amanda Petruisch: I was into Where’s Waldo. My parents, who have always been sort of insanely progressive politically, bought me a parody book called Where’s Dan Quayle? I didn’t get it.
Tony Van Groningen: The fun of Waldo wore off pretty quickly for me, I think, because I was one of those nerdy kids that took pride in memorizing exactly where Waldo was on each and every page of every single Where’s Waldo? book. Amazingly, it didn’t really ever impress anyone, it sorta just pissed them off.
Evan Chakroff: Waldo and Wendy made a nice couple. Cute dog, too. But what was up with that wizard?
Ian Mathers: These were fun. Each picture was like a big puzzle, with both Waldo and whatever other trinkets/events/people there were to find, plus a little story depicting what was going on so that those of us with active imaginations could get even more enjoyment out of the books. The best ones were huge wars (non-violent, of course), sports matches, contests, etc, and if you looked carefully there were all sorts of narratives on each page.
Andrew Unterberger: I pulled one of these out again recently, and I failed miserably. How I had the patience and insight to solve one of these things 13 years ago, I have no idea.
Tony Van Groningen: Where is Waldo? He must have got a short haircut and put on a white t-shirt because nobody has seen him for years. Perhaps he is the behind-the-scenes fashion advisor for the White Stripes. He was definitely one of the cooler fads of the early 1990’s.
Joe Niemczyk: The shedding off of all authority figures, indulging in wealth and excess, and engaging in sadistic acts of physical cruelty and humiliation, Home Alone was proof that children harbor the same dark fantasies as adults.
Nick Southall: I was firmly convinced that this was the second best film ever made back in 1990 and the last 14 years have done little to convince me otherwise.
Tony Van Groningen: I was quite a bit older than Macauley Culkin’s character, Kevin, when this came out and didn’t relate to well to him as a character, but I was old enough to relate to wanting to be left home alone for a week. Instead of learning to shave I probably would have spent the time looking for my dad’s Playboys, but it’s all the same in principle.
Andrew Unterberger: Macaulay Culkin, god, what an obnoxious little shit. All he does is mug, mug, mug—kid can’t act for anything. He can’t even throw a believable temper tantrum—now I ask you, what kind of 10 year old, actor or no, can’t throw a fucking temper tantrum?
Akiva Gottlieb: This movie is so convincing, so amazingly horrifying, and so deeply embedded in my consciousness that I spent irretrievable years of my life unsuccessfully scouring video stores for copies of "Angels With Filthy Souls”, a film that isn��t even R-rated.
Andrew Unterberger: "I’m gonna give you to the count of ten to get your lying, no-good keester off my property before I pump your guts full of lead. One. Two. TEN!
Akiva Gottlieb: To my constant humiliation, I would grill innocent pharmacy clerks about whether or not a toothbrush was approved by the American Dental Association. And don’t even ask about the time I refused to "go easy on the Pepsi” after a dinner of Little Nero’s Pizza.
Sam Hunt: In Home Alone, a mean, mean family leaves their neglected smartassed child behind when they go to France for winter vacation. While home alone (hence the name, get it?) two bumbling crooks try to rob his house.
Andrew Unterberger: Unfortunately for them, the house Marv and Harry choose to stalk happens to be the one house in town manned by the smartest, smuggest and most sadistic little bastard of a ten year old to have ever lived.
Eric Seguy: It’s the details you remember–not so much the unforgettable ending scene in whole, but the events leading up to that cathartic release, piling atop each other one by one, like Jenga blocks.
Ian Mathers: Even as a little kid the sentiment slathered on to parts of this movie turned my stomach. But it was worth sitting through just for that long, jaw-dropping (to a little kid, anyway) sequence where Kevin McAllister totally feeds it to a pair of bumbling thieves.
Gavin Mueller: After watching this movie, my brother and I booby trapped his room to protect it from robbers. Upon entering his room, my mom tripped on a jump rope and broke her toe. Mission accomplished.
Tony Van Groningen: I’m giggling right now thinking about the bad guy getting slammed in the face with the paint can.
Ben Woolhead: If only Joe Pesci played the same sort of unstable nutjob here as he does in Goodfellas – it’d improve Home Alone immeasurably if at the end his character finally evades all the booby traps set for him, breaks into the house and rearranges Macauley Culkin’s stupid fucking face with a baseball bat.
Ian Mathers: Sure, Catherine O’Hara does more with the shit role she has as Kevin’s mom than you might think possible, but since ultimately Kevin’s traps don’t get rid of the burglar (Old Man Morley has to intervene, if I remember), it’s actually scarier than I had thought it would be. Ultimate lesson for little kids: No matter what you do, you need your parents if trouble shows up. I’m still not sure if that’s good or not.
Eric Seguy: I remember having an ambiguous attraction to Catherine O’Hara’s Kate McCallister. I don’t think it was romantic in nature, so much as I was consumed by the look of desperation and slovenly, pleading forgiveness in her eyes, when she reunites with her son Kevin at Rockefeller Center. What child hasn’t dreamt of having their parents at their mercy, capable of fulfilling their every whim and reversing every injustice done to them? I, for one, had such thoughts every day of my youth.
Josh Timmermann: What I still love about Home Alone is the misunderstood next door neighbor who comes to the rescue and saves Macaulay Culkin from Joe Pesci (this really was his year, wasn't it?) and... that other guy. He's such a sad character, coping with personal issues, misviewed as a sort of boogey man by kids. I thought, when I saw Home Alone again a little while back, a really good art film could be made about this character. You know, the type where a conscience-stricken old man tries to finally face up to his mistakes and make right with all the people in his life while, at the same time, contemplating his own mortality. But then, of course, no wacky hijinks would ensue. No after-shave scream. No tripping on Matchbox cars. No McDonalds collector cup tie-in.
Tony Van Groningen: Young Kevin’s wit and bravado could teach us all a lesson. I’m going to call my mom now.
Sam Hunt: This movie changed my life. For probably a full year I wanted nothing more than to be Macauly Culkin. I probably even started talking like him.
Akiva Gottlieb: Today, when people ask me why I have no soul, I can only reply with the two word title of this unspeakably influential 1990 blockbuster. So, to you, John Hughes, Chris Columbus, Macualay Who-the-fuck-ever, I, now a mere shell of a human being, offer only this in response: "Look what ya did, you little jerk!”
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2004-03-08