Friday, 2 August 2013

The One With All The 90s Groups, #50 - 41

What's a Photoshop? This is the 90s. We use Paint! (Even though Photoshop was available in the 90s)

When I was trying to decide how to introduce our groups of the nineties countdown, I had a tough time. How does one define an entire decade in a couple of sentences? Ten years is a long time. I decided to consult the people I always consult when making decisions. I also consult them sometimes when I need help to decide what to eat for dinner or what shoes to wear with what dress. They help me with all the big decisions, my beautiful friends. I posed a question to them; when you think of the nineties, what do you think of? The answers were varied;

"Bad fashion that I thought was good fashion."


"I can't remember most of them, they were amazing."

"Cargo pants and white guys with dreadlocks."

"The first time I remember being depressed."


"Having an entire wardrobe of opshop clothing and wearing ill-fitting second hand brown suits to gala events."

"Childhood. I was between two and twelve."

"Grunge, Soup Dragons and Bill Clinton."


I don’t know if that last person was referring to band or the fruit, but either way, you get my point. Like every decade, they're hard to define; the 90's meant vastly different things to different people. To some, they were fun, they were cartoons and Vengabuses and Tamagotchi. To others they were shoe gazing and no logo and Kurt Cobain and "damn the man!" Whatever they were to you, there's no denying how important they are to today. Without the Spice Girls, there’d be no Nicki Minaj and without the Backstreet Boys there'd be no One Direction and without Nirvana there'd be no...well, they were so influential I don’t even want to think about it.

Regardless of which style you prefer, it can’t be denied the music of the 90's shaped who we listen to today and most importantly, the way we listen to it. The beginnings of the internet as we now know it and the very bare bone start of social media, we have the 90's to thank for being able to listen to who we want, whenever we want, wherever we want.

If we were going to celebrate all of the decade that was, our countdown would take us a lifetime, so as our own little fabulous group of writers at It's My Kind Of Scene is growing, we've decided to celebrate the groups of the 90's and believe me, there were some good ones. Whatever your style, there’s probably a 90's group somewhere in your life soundtrack, and hopefully one of them has made it to our own top fifty groups, voted by us. Whether you wish you were there or glad they're in the past, I'm going to leave the best quote about the 90's to one of my friends;

"They were the worst, the best and absolutely everything in between."

- Jo Michelmore

It's My Kind of Scene's 50 Greatest 90s Groups

#50. INXS

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking the career of INXS peaked in the 80s with Kick and songs like ‘Need You Tonight’ and ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. Well, I’m here to tell you… that you’re absolutely right. But discounting INXS’ 90s contributions to music is frankly unacceptable and won’t be tolerated around these parts. Michael Hutchence and friends kicked (urgh) off the decade with the follow up to Kick (urgh), X. Unlike Kylie Minogue’s appropriately titled tenth studio release, X was the band’s seventh and home to fan favourite tracks like ‘Suicide Blonde’ and ‘By My Side’.

As the INXS sound matured, their popularity found itself slowly declining. But popularity has never been the best indicator for quality music, no? Welcome to Wherever You Are was released in 1992 to small amounts of success. When you listen to it today and come across ‘Beautiful Girl’ you can fall in love with INXS all over again. Andrew Farriss’ heart-warming song for his then baby girl definitely stands the test of time and holds up incredibly well.

Sure, it’s not all memorable. The less said about Full Moon, Dirty Hearts is probably for the better, but the way they rebounded on Elegantly Wasted deserves applause. Hutchence seemed all but reborn on the title track, oozing the sex appeal that propelled the band to super-stardom a decade before. As we know, the opportunity to build to a full blown return to prominence would never eventuate, with Hutchence found dead in a Sydney hotel room eight months after INXS’ last album with their original frontman was released. 

- Matt Bond

#49. Pet Shop Boys

British duo Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe were leaders in the electro world of synth pop music. The 80s saw the pair create several hits such as “West End Girls” and “It’s a Sin” (among others).

The Pet Shop Boys heralded in the new decade with their fourth studio album (presented in a white velvet box) Behaviour. The opening track to this album was a song called “Being Boring”. Along with a beautiful slick rhythm, the lyrics pack a punch of the reality of the 90s. “Now I sit with different faces, In rented rooms and foreign places, All the people I was kissing, Some are here and some are missing, In the nineteen-nineties” (Being Boring).

Tennant once described this song as the “best I’ve ever written”. The song was penned as a reaction to the effect AIDS had on a generation. The nineties were a wake up and a realisation of the lives lost through the epidemic, particularly in the gay community. Thus we were led into a new sexual revolution of safety and precaution. The PSB wrote it was about "growing up".

The Petshop Boys officially came out in 1994. This decade (perhaps due to flag bearers like The PSB) saw the widening of acceptance of the LGBT community (an equality and acceptance issue that is still resolving itself in contemporary times). Be yourself. That was the underlying notion behind the Pet Shop Boys.

And being themselves they were. Oh those kooky, lovable costumes that screamed THE NINETIES!!! Who could forget the headgear in the Village People’s cover of “Go West”?

- Lou Endicott

#48. Incubus

The 90s is where it all began for Incubus. The California rockers made waves in 1995 with their debut funk metal album Fungus Amongus. The group enjoyed success from single “Take Me To Your Leader” and toured relentlessly before releasing their follow up album in 1997. S.C.I.E.N.C.E spawned two hit singles - “A Certain Shade of Green” and “New Skin”. They’ve been tight lipped on the acronym but once joked that it stands for “Sailing Catamarans is Every Nautical Captain’s Ecstasy”. Riiiiight. Not only did they develop a legion of adoring fans (thanks in part to Brandon Boyd’s luscious locks) but they also caught the interests of a number of big name bands and festivals including Ozzfest and Family Values Tour. 1999 was the year that Brandon got a haircut, and the band moved away from their funk metal beginnings into more of an alternative rock sound. Their album Make Yourself found huge success, going double platinum in the United States. Singles included “Pardon Me”, “Stellar” and “Drive”.

I can't help but get nostalgic when I hear Incubus. My ex boyfriend and I played their music ad nauseam. I got the shits with him eventually, but my love for Brandon, Mike, Chris, Ben and Jose has stood the test of time. Incubus have been credited over the years with combining a number of different sounds and genres without it sounding like a red hot mess. They’ve continued to enjoy success, but as the saying goes… Whatever tomorrow brings I’ll… Still like their 90s stuff better than their new stuff. 

- Katie Langley

#47. Beastie Boys

There’s no doubt about it – the 90s were huge for the Beastie Boys. They released three albums, were nominated for two Grammy Awards, won two Grammy Awards, were nominated for four MTV Video Music Awards, won two Video Music Awards, and even found a little time to partake in some activism. Phew!

While they originally began as a four-piece hard-core punk band, they had well and truly established their hip hop foundations by the time they released 1992’s Check Your Head. This album spawned one of their biggest hits with “What’cha Want”. I still rather enjoy busting out a little “whatcha whatcha whatcha want?” if anyone lingers too long near my desk at work.

The Beastie Boys' fame boomed again in 1994 with the release of Ill Communication. It had huge success on the Billboard 200. “Sabotage” was the hit song from this album. Things went from strength to strength that same year when the group scored the coveted co-headlining spot at Lollapalooza with the Smashing Pumpkins.

Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Adam “MCA” Yauch got busy in the studio again releasing Hello Nasty in 1998. This album saw them win two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. They also won MTV’s award for Best Hip Hop Video for single “Intergalactic”. The Beastie Boys have used their celebrity status to speak out on a number of issues. Adam “MCA” Yauch famously spoke out at an MTV Video Music Awards ceremony about Muslim’s being unfairly stereotyped as terrorists. Also close to their hearts is the movement to free Tibet. In 1999 they held shows around the world to raise awareness.

Adam Yauch’s death in 2012 saw an outpouring of messages from musicians from Eminem to Weezer, Madonna to Jay Z, just going to show the wide reaching influence the group have had.

- Katie Langley

#46. Savage Garden

I think I was in year 9 when Savage Garden first released 'I Want You'. At that impressionable time in my life, I can remember the feeling when I first heard them on the radio. I felt dirty because I was attracted to the voice and uneasy because it touched something inside me that I couldn’t quite explain. It touched the gay blossoming within, which scared the ba-JESUS outta me. Every time it played on the radio I would be scared someone would notice the little gay inside enjoying it and I’d be caught.

It wasn’t until my dad bought home their self-titled debut album that I truly, madly, deeply fell in love with Savage Garden’s sexy brand of pop and felt tingling in my loins for Darren Hayes. Although it was dad’s CD I pretty much placed my claim and it rarely left my playlist as a young teen. I quickly developed faves like 'Break Me Shake Me', 'Tears Of Pearls', 'Violet', and 'Carry On Dancing' which all played a big part in the development of my music taste. I love me some sophisticated, sexy, pop. 

- Nayt Housman

#45. The Fugees

“I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style.” I remember the first time I heard Lauryn Hill’s voice in a non-Sister Act II capacity. 1996, age 8 and watching my favourite TV show (that wasn’t Power Rangers), Video Hits. The Fugees’ ‘Killing Me Softly’ came on and before you could say “one time, one time” I had declared it my favourite song. Oblivious to what the lyrics meant or what a Roberta Flack was, I was simply in love with Hill’s voice.

The 90s might have come to a close, but my love for ‘Killing Me Softly’ remained, leading a slightly older and incredibly more awkward me to invest some time in The Score. Released in 1995 as The Fugees’ second and final studio recording, The Score is essentially the perfect hip hop group album and a template for the success of later, lamer groups like the Black Eyed Peas. Providing a more positive outlook, bringing in elements of reggae and funk and focusing on empowerment and social change, The Score walked away with a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 1997. In doing so, it defeated albums by 2Pac and Coolio that celebrated the thug lifestyle promoted in the dominant gangsta rap genre. Over the years The Score has found itself regarded as one of the greatest albums of the 90s, if not of all-time.

The combined talents of Wyclef Jean, Pras Michel and Lauryn Hill were formidable. Alongside Jean and Michel, Hill never came across as ‘just the girl with the big voice’, delivering rap segments that generally came across even better than her male counterparts. But there’s no question that when she did get to show off those pipes, like on ‘Ready Or Not’ or ‘Killing Me Softly’, she left a lasting impression.

Sadly, the three would go their separate ways before the 90s was over. Hill found incredible solo success with her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and I suppose she was mildly successful at evading tax authorities. Wyclef Jean has had on and off success in the solo field, most notably alongside Shakira on ‘Hips Don’t Lie’. In the political field he’s 0-1 as far as bids for the Haitian Presidency are concerned, but his passion in campaigning for disaster relief was admirable. Until it became public knowledge that Jean’s charity wasn’t spending donations in an appropriate manner. Pras… that guy’s alright. If The Fugees had a decade where everything was going their way… it was definitely the 90s.

- Matt Bond

#44. Air

The nineties saw the emergence of Air - a collaboration of Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel, two musicians from Versailles, France. Lucky us.

The first time I heard the album Moon Safari was (rather perfectly) late at night at the end of a rather exuberant party. The squelchy, chilled out beats mixed with the dreamy, delicious delicate solos created by all manner of retro gear (including analogue synthesisers, hammonds and one of my all time favourite instruments - the Fender Rhodes) was just what the party doctor ordered. With added bongoes, congas, tambourines and other little retrospective hand made rhythm lines, here’s your prescription: Lie down, have a beverage, lower the lights and talk in soft tones about just how “now” and “modern” and “clever” we are as human beings living in the 90s, with a reference point of a millennia behind us.

The end of a millennia. It was much like we were living on a space station somewhere in deep space. I mean, we had this new thing called the internet, a few people I knew carried their own personal bricks with them (mobiles) and we were wiser and smarter than we’d ever been (weren’t we?). The French Rolling Stone referred to Air’s sound as “Space Pop”. And I concur. In the 90s, Air allowed us to relax, space out, create an ambient zone and just calm the hell down amidst all this clever-ness.

This clip was created post 90s but it really shows the variety of instruments used in the opening track to Moon Safari and features some little known facts about the album throughout. Are you sitting down? Got a cuppa? Feeling relaxed? Good. Now watch.

- Lou Endicott

#43. Alice In Chains

It just wouldn’t be a 90s count down without Alice in Chains. Why? Well, they’re fucking awesome for starters. That’s not only my personal opinion, it’s a thought shared by approximately 25 million people (including my work colleague Elisha who tried to incorporate their music into her wedding) who have purchased their albums. Okay, so maybe it was less people who bought multiple albums. Whatever, you get the idea – they sold a lot of records.

Guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley formed the band in the late 80’s, but enjoyed most of their success in the next decade. They were another one of the success stories out of Seattle.

Alice in Chains released a number of albums and EP’s during the 90s including “We Die Young”, “Facelift”, “Sap”, “Dirt”, “Jar of Flies”, and the self-titled “Alice in Chains”. Suffice to say, they were busy. They put in the hard yards, touring with a number of big names like Iggy Pop, Poison and Van Halen. Although Layne’s love affair with heroine resulted in the cancellation of a tour with Metallica, Suicidal Tendencies and Danzig.

Unfortunately Layne’s drug addiction began to spiral out of control, further compounded by the death of his ex-fiancĂ© in 1996. Layne became somewhat of a recluse before he was found dead in 2002.

The Alice in Chains sound, and Layne’s vocals have been credited with inspiring and influencing a number of bands including:
Stone Sour
Queens of the Stone Age
Avenged Sevenfold
Puddle of Mudd

And of course, in recent times, single “Them Bones” has been given a second coming with Guitar Hero. Yesssss, that song! I just heard the penny drop for some of you. 

- Katie Langley

#42. TLC

Destiny's Child. Spice Girls. Beyonce. Lady Gaga. Pink. Alicia Keys. M.I.A. Katy Perry...the list is endless, but they're all great female musicians in their own way and right. All of these amazing artists you may have never heard of had it not been for three incredible women who formed a group in 1990 and went on to become one of the most influential r'n'b/rap/hip hop/pop acts of the 90s. Welcome to the world of TLC.

Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas, Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins and Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes were a group like none before them. They had an incredible combination of cuteness, amazing vocals and an awesome girl rapper. They wore the fashion of the time incredibly well (and when I say they wore it, they MADE it fashionable), they used condoms as accessories (who knew condoms made great jewels?) and they were three women who knew who they were, what they wanted and weren't afraid to demand it. Unlike so many before them, they didn't focus on broken hearts and unrequited desire and tears and seduction and blah-blah-boring-blah; TLC told it like it was. They wanted to have fun, they wanted to sleep with whoever they wanted to, they wanted to do that safely and they were the independent women 10 years before Destiny's Child even dreamt about being 'Independent Women'. TLC were a breath of fresh air, bringing a sense of fun, sexy and macho to a genre previously dominated by bubblegum, girly, mostly meek women in short dresses and pretty hair.

"I don't want your number no, I don't want to give you mine and no, I don't want to meet you nowhere no, I don't want none of your time and no." The lyrics of 'No Scrubs' seem tame and a little dull now, but in the late 90's, they were words that not many r'n'b women had the confidence or ability to say. Thankfully for the music industry and in turn society, a clever marketing team somewhere had realised this and TLC led the way for women who weren't into rock to be just as strong as those who were. Who knows how they would fare if they were together and performing now? The world and the music industry is a different place now to what it was in the 90s, so we'll never know, but what I do know is that the world is a different place in 2013 because of the awesome, defining and ultimately incredibly talented group that TLC were in the 90s. 

- Jo Michelmore

#41. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

Five albums were released by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds throughout the 90s; The Good Son (1992), Henry’s Dream (1992), Let Love In (1994), Murder Ballads (1996) and The Boatman’s Call (1997). They featured his most recognisable songs. ‘The Ship Song’, ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’, ‘Into My Arms’. There’s the absolutely mesmerising duet with PJ Harvey, ‘Henry Lee’. The 90s was the decade that saw Cave and Co. transform into an artistic force of nature that couldn’t be denied. I won’t pretend that the decade completely belonged to The Bad Seeds, who were guilty as charged by many of slipping into highly pretentious wankery at a moment’s notice. Even with these occasional self-indulgent missteps (‘Jack the Ripper’ anyone?) you’ve got to have a certain level of respect for Cave’s passion and that of The Bad Seeds. Especially Mick Harvey, aka 90s Bad Seeds MVP.


So there’s a perceived wanky side to the band, but the good, the great, the amazing, the engrossing… it far outweighs a couple of ‘too arty for their own good’ numbers. How can you listen to ‘People Ain’t No Good’ and not find yourself blown away? When ‘The Ship Song’ is playing, don’t you have to tell your friends you’ve come down with a sudden-onset mystery allergic reaction to a cat that must be somewhere in the vicinity? Yeah, that’s why your eyes are leaking. Right? Wrong! It’s because it’s one of the most simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking songs you’ll ever hear. But the cat allergy thing totally fools people.  If the band had just released Murder Ballads, lauded as the work of a lifetime, they’d be deserving of making this list. But with The Good Son and The Boatman’s Call also released in the 90s, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds solidify the validity of their inclusion. 

- Matt Bond 

The countdown continues each Friday of August! Who's going to be number one?! 

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