Thursday, June 30, 2011

Best of the 90s: 1991.

Okay, I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for my next 90s entry. I know I have! And after writing that first sentence, I also started to wonder what the hell "bated breath" really means. So I Googled it. Turns out the phrase, like many a phrase, finds its way back to Shakesepare. Oh Will, you crazy old bard! But uh, anyway.

Jill's Top Ten Songs of 1991

(Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Bryan Adams

Dramatic Bryan Adams song, in a soundtrack to a dramatic Kevin Costner film? YES 1990S, YES. The 90s were really the heydey of the Movie Soundtrack Song, accompanied by the music video that spliced dramatic shots from the film with a dramatic performance by the singer/band. (The above video is sadly not the official video for this song, which I couldn't find an embeddable form of, just clips from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. While this clip is still enjoyable, and includes a ridiculous shirtless Kevin Costner scene, the actual video includes Bryan singing in a British countryside next to an adorable cottage, alongside a stream.) Nowadays when they have the Best Song category at the Oscars, you've never really heard of any of them, but you can just assume Randy Newman will win. But (Everything I Do) I Do It For You was the #1 song of 1991, according to Billboard.

I loved this song so much that, as a youth, I always believed it would be played at my wedding. Spoiler alert: it will not be played at my wedding. But I still love it just as much. Seriously. It is so good. Dramatic love song in raspy Canadian voice FTW.

Rush, Rush, Paula Abdul

So, THIS IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS VIDEO OF ALL TIME. I remembered liking this song--Paula's debut of seriousness--and that the video was really intense, but when I rewatched it this week, I realized that "intense" to a child, which I was in the 90s, must actually mean "completely ridiculous" in adult reality. The first thing you must know is that this video stars Keanu Reeves.

Oh, okay. Was that not enough for you?

Here's my rough play by play of what happens in this video, if you're too lazy to watch the commercial and then all six minutes of it:

ETA: So Kathy brought to my attention that the whole video is a play off of Rebel Without a Cause. I actually have seen this, but there's a distinct possibility I may have fallen asleep for most of it. ACCORDINGLY, the video apparently would make a lot more sense if you are, you know, familiar with one of the most famous movies of all time, or something. HOWEVER, I still like my ignorant play by play. So, for others who are un-cultured such as myself, this is how it goes:

It starts with one of those creepy clapping monkey toys, with a disheveled and distraught Keanu hovering on the ground and clapping along with it. Why? Who knows! This initially makes us believe that Keanu has developmental disabilities, but in fact, I think it's just completely random.

ENTER SCENE: Paula walks into a police station. Or a private investigator's office? Or a therapist? Oh, and Keanu is also at a private investigator/therapist person. He is yelling a lot. Paula is crying, saying, "He doesn't care!!" You assume this is probably about Keanu, but then she says "My father!" and you are like "Huh?" Oh, and then Keanu and his PI/therapist/lawyer are looking through some weird keyhole that's smack in the middle of the wall and spying on what appears to be a scene from Gone With the Wind. What decade are we in? We don't know; it's very confusing.

Suddenly we learn that Keanu has put some kid in the hospital. Gasp! But he didn't want to hurt him. Paula is crying a lot.

OH, OH, GUYS, OKAY--I think the point of this whole intro is that both Paula and Keanu really hate their fathers. It just took me awhile because of all the bad acting.

Once the song actually starts, we are taken to a more carefree scene of Paula cruisin' with her peeps on a sunny day, while Keanu cruises awkwardly by himself as the Social Outcast Character. Maybe it is the 1960's? Hard to say.

INTERMITTENTLY: Real 1991 Paula dances in a furry black bra outfit.

BACK TO INDETERMINATE TIME PERIOD: Suddenly it's night time, and Social Outcast Keanu and The Cool Kids have clearly been battling for Paula's affections, which ends in a big squealing-tires drag race, with Marilyn-esque Paula waving her white scarf between their cars at the starting line. And then--oh!--Keanu jumps out of his car while it's still moving! Other Cool Kid's face registers shock--and then he barrels over a cliff, or something. Does he die?

Who knows; apparently it's not important, as Paula and Keanu then turn to each other and instead of saying things such as, "Holy shit," or, "Should we see if he's okay?," or "Whoa, that was scary," they ask each other if they've ever been in love. They both say no. Keanu says, "We're all alone."

Then they go to Paula's house and make out.


Unbelievable, EMF

WHOA! Sideways and/or backwards baseball hats! WHOA! Brightly mismatched clothing! WHOA! Long jean shorts! WHOA! Classic 90s live-performance music video! Seriously though, what a great song. It is kind of awesome, still.

More Than Words, Extreme

The early 90s carried a wealth of Men-With-Long-Flowing-Locks Duos. There were the fair-haired brothers of Nelson:

--whose stellar After the Rain was also a hit in 1991 (WHOAAA AFTERRRRR THE RAIN WASHES AWAY THE TEARS AND ALL THE PAIN, ONLY AFTER THE RAIN, YOU LIVE AGAIIIIN WHOAAAA!). (No really, watch the video here, it'll come back to you. Although you have to fast forward two minutes through a Rush Rush-esque ridiculous intro to get to the actual song.) And then there was Extreme.

The Billboard Top 100 Chart for 1991 also included Extreme's hit Hole Hearted (THERE'S A HOLE IN MY HEART THAT CAN ONLY BE FILLED BY YOUUUUUUUU), but let's be honest, the most loved and remembered is always More Than Words. Something about this curly-hair-ponytailed dude's voice, accompanied by that acoustic guitar, is so gentle and sad and comforting. Nice move with the black and white video, too. So simple and singable and good.

Motownphilly, Boyz II Men

So, Kathy and I may or may not have Boyz II Men's Greatest Hits on heavy rotation in our car, and we may or may not sing loudly to this song, in 2011, on a regular and frequent basis. I also may or may not believe this to be one of the GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME. Okay, no, I do. Everything about this song simply fills me with happiness.

I hadn't watched the video since the 90s though, and there are so many amazing things about it. Those dance moves! Those coral blazers and stonewashed jeans! Those vertically striped sweaters! Those bowties! All the Philly references: A Temple throwrug thing! Geno's (Jim's is better)! South Street! I mean, what other song includes the line: "And all the Philly steaks you can eat"?! That is good stuff!

Spoiler alert: This WILL be played at our wedding. You can count on it.

And as a closing note, A B C, B B D (mmmhmmm).

Someday, Mariah Carey

Alright, so Mariah Carey's first two albums received heavy play in the Guccini household in the early 90s, and it was difficult to choose one to highlight from this glorious Mariah Carey year. Should it be Vision of Love? Should it be the title track to her second album, Emotions (so good!)? But when I think about early 90s Mariah, the truth is, her singing this song in the stairwell of an elementary school is the first thing I think of. I will always prefer the curly haired, black leotard and high jeans Mariah, and that is how she will always live in my mind. And that voice at 3:48! Chills! So classic! I miss you, 1991 Mariah!

Losing My Religion, R.E.M.

Everything about this song is beautiful. Everything about this song is perfect. I don't even know what else to say about it. It is one of the most wonderful songs ever written.

ALSO, every now and then Kathy and I try to imitate the Michael Stipe angrily-and-awkardly-flailing-your-arms-while-kind-of-moving-around dance that's exhibited in this video. We are normally pretty bad at it, since I think Michael Stipe is the only person that can actually do it, but it's still enjoyable to try.

ALSO: As some of you know, I developed a quick but passionate love affair with NBC's The Voice in the last few weeks, and although Dia Frampton wasn't my pick to win, I did really love her performance of this song, which you should watch here, if just for the way she sang "corner." 

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...., C+C Music Factory

So I think Things That Make You Go Hmmm... was the first CD the Guccini family ever bought. Yeah, no, seriously. We are awesome. Or, you know, our mom is awesome, since she was the one who obviously bought all our CDs at this point. And I don't know why I'm calling them "our CDs," since they were really just her CDs, and I just listened to them, since that's what you do when you're in the first/second grade. Anyway, it was a tough decision between this song and Gonna Make You Sweat (EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!), but I had to choose this title track just because it's so much more ridiculous.

1991 on film

The top grossing film of 1991 was Terminator 2. (Scary!) Since I don't like talking about scary things, I will just talk about a few of my other favorites from this year. Kathy told me I should just focus on one movie and/or TV show for each year for this 90s series because it's too much to mention so many, but it's hard because there were SO MANY AMAZING FILMS THIS YEAR. So here are just a few of my favorites. Also, all the following video clips are trailers, because TRAILERS ARE THE BEST.


HOOK IS SO AMAZING! ONE OF THE BEST CHILDREN'S MOVIES OF ALL TIME! I love you Robin Williams! Rufiooooooooooooo!

City Slickers

Guys. Do you know how much I love Billy Crystal? I love Billy Crystal a lot. I miss Billy Crystal. A lot. And City Slickers? So good! I want to watch it right now. Also, two amazing scenes which you should click these links to watch since I can't embed them: Billy Crystal's career day speech (SO GOOD), and Billy Crystal explaining to Daniel Stern--that dude who's in like every 90s movie ever whose name you can never remember--how to record a TV show on a VCR. CLASSIC. The career day speech, though, is the type of thing that my dad would double over laughing at. Watching it just now, I almost doubled over laughing. Well, I laughed out loud, at least. I'm not quite sure what this means, but I think it probably means I am becoming more and more like my dad and/or am old.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Oh man. Oh man. Oh man. Okay, well I said I don't like talking about scary things, and the train scene--and the beehive scene!--in this movie are both VERY, VERY SCARY. However, getting over these scary parts is worth it because the rest of it is SO. GOOD. Kathy Bates! A good ol' Southern tale! Lesbian love! [While I've never actually read Fannie Flagg's 1987 novel which the movie is based on, Kathy has and assures me that the love between Idgie and Ruth is clear in the novel and is altered in the movie, albeit still at least very thinly veiled.] Cannibalism! Southern food! Ramming into pretty girls's Corvettes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Also, the very brief clip in this trailer of Kathy Bates holding a box of Krispy Kremes made me real hungry. And it's your guess as to whether it made me stop writing, leave the house, and walk to 7-11 to buy candy bars or not. (The answer is yes, yes it did.)

What About Bob?

So far I've gotten to mention Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, and now I get to mention BILL MURRAY! AND RICHARD DREYFUSS! HAPPINESS! I know Bill Murray is the mentally ill character in this movie, but Richard Dreyfuss is so batshit insane in this movie. In fact, the last time I watched it, I was pretty disturbed by the ending, and wondered why I had never been as disturbed by it in the past. Like, it's really pretty upsetting. Oh 90s humor!

Pretty Woman was briefly mentioned in my 1990 post, and I think it might still reign as the movie my mom has watched the most amount of times, but I think What About Bob? comes in a very close second. Seriously, anytime this move is on TBS or TNT or whatever--and I feel like it is on a surprising amount--my mom has probably watched it. As a family, I think we probably collectively have it memorized.

Other Serious 1991 Movie Highlights:

Sleeping With the Enemy. Okay, again, I don't like scary things, but I just have to mention that I feel like I watched this movie at least five times as a very young person, which is crazy because IT'S SCARY. WHY WAS I WATCHING THIS?!?!

Also, guess what other giants came out this year: Father of the Bride! My Girl! Boyz n the Hood! Naked Gun 2 1/2! The Rocketeer! Beauty & the Beast! Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead! THELMA & LOUISE!

Okay, doing this series is making me start to seriously actually believe they don't make movies like they used to.

Jill in 1991

So I realized I was getting a little ahead of myself last time when I mentioning my famous Richard Troll Stories. I probably wasn't writing these in 1990, but was perhaps starting to stretch my writing muscles at least a little more in 1991. I turned 8 and entered the 2nd grade. I really don't remember much about my early elementary life, other than that our school library had been recently re-modeled/re-painted and it was pretty much awesome. The main atrium of the library had a huge ceiling with big windows, with famous children's book characters painted around the walls. But the best part was going to the little carpet area behind the fiction stacks where the librarian would roll out the TV on a cart and we'd sit on the floor and watch Reading Rainbow. Reading Rainbow was the absolute best.

I think my second grade teacher was Mrs. Williams. All I really remember about her is that she had recently gone to Egypt, or she had a son who went to Egypt, or something, and she talked about it a lot, which we all obviously thought was badass. Because Egypt is pretty much awesome when you're in elementary school.

- Egypt
- The Oregon Trail
- Beverly Cleary novels
- hula-hooping and jump-roping to old 50s pop hits in gym
- Feeling like you are good at math
- Reading Rainbow
- recess
- Getting to play with animals and stuff in science class
- That's it.

And, of course, I was still probably watching a lot of TGIF.

Previous entries in the series: 1990.

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