I am a child of the 90s.
In the early 90s, I was an elementary school student obsessed with Mariah Carey, in the mid-90s, I was middle schooler who was the most faithful Spice Girl fan EVER, and in the late 90s, as a high schooler, I got to meet my new idol, Britney Spears when she came to our mall for an autograph signing.
In the middle of all this awesomeness, I encountered some random, now mostly forgotten pop songs which impacted my adolescence.
This is my life, told with each bittersweet, horribly bad song.
I performed this song with a straight face during a middle school talent show in 1995. It didn't take me very long to memorize the lyrics, since the song was played on the radio every half hour. It was my attempt at dry humor and I was pleased to see it worked. It received more laughter and applause than my 5th grade mime performance, where I dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and chased invisible balloons around stage for five minutes. And that act had been a solid hit!
"Don't Let Go (What's it Gonna Be?)"
When I discovered I was moving to the cornfields of Nebraska from the sunny beaches of southern Florida in 1996, I was devastated. I loved my life in Tampa, plus, I had already established an almost-boyfriend, Frankie. (An almost-boyfriend is a big deal for a 12-year-old.) Frankie and I had met at the back-to-school dance, where I taught him the precise steps to the Macarena. Later that night, we slow danced to a couple of Boyz II Men songs. It was magical. Well, as a sweet and sorrowful goodbye present, Frankie gave me the tape single for Don't Let Go. He said it was our song. At the time I thought it was sweet, but now I just think it was creepy. Especially after seeing the music video and actually listening to the lyrics.
When I was 13, I didn't know what this song meant. Now at 26, and after seeing this perplexing music video, I still don't know what it means. But when I was in eighth grade, this song played on the radio EVERY TEN MINUTES. Nobody knew what it meant, but they loved it, apparently. To this day, when I hear this song on one of those "gen x" radio stations, I get the most vivid memories of driving with my parents to Wal-Mart or carpooling with my neighbor, Katie, to school. It's amazing how much a stupid song can create such strong flashbacks...
This song is from 1993. But it didn't influence my life until 2001. I was hanging out with my best friend, Jeff, and we decided to take a road trip to Cleveland, Ohio, one weekend. He made a mixed tape for me and played it while we were on the road. When this song came on, he had me pull over, and this was the soundtrack to one of the most romantic moments of my life. During this song, Jeff professed that was deeply in love with me and wanted us to get married and have children once we graduated high school. He said he already had our house picked out. Well, once the fall of 2002 came, Jeff and I went to different colleges. He headed to NYU and I went to journalism school out west. But distance isn't what has kept us from rekindling our love: Jeff came out of the closet in 2006.
Oh, and as a bonus, I've included the Spice World trailer. I'll never forget where I was when I saw this trailer for the first time. I was with my sister, Jenn, at some now-forgotten Leonardo DiCaprio movie and we almost fainted with the fabulousness. Unfortunately, by the time the film actually made it to theaters in Nebraska, Spice Girl mania had died somewhat and we ended up being the only people in the theater opening weekend.
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