Top Ten Music Videos of the 90s
The response to DB’s top ten videos of the 80s was so overwhelming that we at BannedCast found ourselves besieged with requests for more! Remember that scene in Miracle on 34th Street where they bring bags of letters addressed to Santa into the courtroom to prove the existence of St. Nicholas? It was sort of like that, except that most of what we received was junk mail mixed with the occasional death threat from angry furries who disapprove of our Sound and the Fur(r)y blog, but that makes it no less overwhelming!
Here, then, are BannedCast’s top ten music videos of the 90s. That is: These are the videos that best represent the decade, not the best in terms of artistry because neither Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People” nor Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” videos appear on this list—it would be an insult to include them amongst the occasionally shitty company included here. Anyways, enjoy, as there are some guilty pleasures mixed in here.
Jesus Jones — “Right Here Right Now”
You guys, this shit won a Grammy. It barely makes our cut because it was released in 1990, but it affords an ominous omen for the decade that would follow. At least the world saw fit to jettison ridiculous baseball caps with the brim flipped upward like an asshole. I guess popped collars had run their course, but you know what hadn’t run its course? Pop bands with an associate’s degree in political science.
Way to go, Jesus Jones—your song about the collapse of the Soviet Union is about as compelling as David Hasselhoff’s contention that his song “Looking for Freedom” brought down the Berlin Wall. Oh, did you not know that was a thing? Go ahead and check it out here, and if it sweetens the deal, in this video the Hoff is wearing a leather jacket with flashing lights, and he nearly gets hit in the head with a large firecracker.
Go ahead and watch. We’ll wait …
Mr. Big — “To Be With You”
“You guys, I have a great idea! For this video, let’s put the camera in the middle of the room and have it rotate so that viewers can get a firsthand look at what it would be like to be gang raped by the members of Mr. Big!”
Sneaker Pimps — “Six Underground”
Techno was a thing in the 90s, and you shouldn’t forget that. Nor should you forget that hoop nose rings and lots of eye shadow were trendy, too. This singer reminds me of nearly all of the girls I had a crush on in High School, and while this is actually a pretty decent song, this video highlights a common 90s video trope: lots of moving close-ups of moody alternative band members with “fight the system” hair styles. Yes, there is a woman with a vacuum cleaner (way to slam 1950s-era female domesticity in 1996!), and any dark music video from the 90s is required to have at least one shot of worms.
Snow — “Informer”
This one makes the list if only for no other reason than Ninja of Die Antwoord once mentioned this as one of his favorites from the 90s, and if it’s good enough for Die Antwoord, you best believe that it’s good enough for you. Because Die Antwoord is life’s answer to everything that sucks about popular music. So go ahead and watch this, and you can stop pretending like you aren’t nodding your head and trying to mouth that tongue-twisting chorus. Because you are. Zef style, bitches.
Kriss Kross — “Warm It Up”
Before the Black Eyed Peas ruined jumping and dancing for everyone, Kriss Kross took a crack at ruining pop music, too, and managed only to ruin prepubescent rap music for a generation to come until Justin Bieber was able revive the lost art of taking a viable form of artistic expression and aggressively violating it like a concierge in Kobe Bryant’s hotel suite. It is, however, sort of sweet to see gangster rap rendered so adorable and non-threatening.
But did you know that Kriss Kross was apparently involved in what would become the very first hip-hop beef? It’s relatively true, and their beef was with another young hip hop group called Another Bad Creation. That’s right. The basis of the beef: Who started wearing their pants backwards first. I guess early hip hop beefs were sort of adorable, too, though we should not overlook the significance of this beef, which was an early harbinger of the Biggie vs. 2Pac, 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule, and Drake vs. musical talent beefs to come. So in a way, Kriss Kross killed 2Pac, and that is why this makes our list.
Soul Asylum — “Runaway Train”
This video opens with a statement reading “There are over 1 million youth lost on the streets of America,” which seems like more of an indictment of the US educational system considering that those teens ought to be able to read a goddamn map.
This is a somewhat confusing, possibly glorifying look at runaway teens. Prior to seeing this as a kid, I hadn’t considered running away from home a viable option, but Soul Asylum makes a compelling case for why it is. And while I recognize that it is probably in poor taste to make fun of a video featuring pictures of real-life runaways, that hasn’t stopped us here at BannedCast before.
Most importantly, it seems a little presumptuous to declare that all of those missing teens showcased in this video necessarily ran away from home to become prostitutes. One would think that at least a few were murdered and buried in a shallow grave, and they would no doubt resent the suggestion that they’re turning tricks on skid row.
Ace of Base — “The Sign”
You know how in my comments to an earlier video, I mentioned the “basis” of the seminal Kriss Kross/Another Bad Creation beef? Well, that of course called to mind this cornerstone of pop music, the 90s answer to ABBA. As if anyone was asking the question. We weren’t. Because some questions are better left unanswered, such as this one. I’m sorry to include it on the list, I promise the next one will be less irritating.
Spice Girls — “Wannabe”
Remember how at the end of the previous video intro for Ace of Base I promised that the next video would be less irritating? Well, I lied. This one is equally if not more irritating than all previous videos in this list combined, but that’s perfectly emblematic of the 90s as a decade: increasingly grating and annoying, just like Adam Sandler’s film career.
With respect to this song, maybe there’s an issue with the translation, but in the US, saying that “you gotta get with my friends” is really another way of saying “you gotta fuck my friends,” which would be totally cool until you got to Sporty Spice, who isn’t going to be amenable to your fucking her even if you fancy yourself a gentle lover. Or perhaps because you fancy yourself a gentle lover—we’re not sure. Either way, it’s going to be awkward and uncomfortable for all concerned.
TLC — “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg”
Our penultimate selection represents what was also great about the 90s: colorful, extravagant, playful, and sexy. Except that I would beg the women of TLC not to dress in baggy overalls, which isn’t all that sexy, but I regard TLC as the catalyst for my love of all things black women, especially in their later videos.
The only part of this video I disagree with is its advocating of condom use. This is nowhere more apparent than with regard to Lisa Left-eye Lopez’s condom eyeglass lens, which seems to be less a declaration of safe sex than a preventative measure against pink eye. I disagree with condoms because 1. condoms are terrible and 2. I have mistaken the multicolored condoms featured here for fruit roll-ups in the past, and this video therefore recalls terrible memories of my junior high school cafeteria. And really, red is not a great color for a condom for a number of reasons, unless your lady enjoys the suggestion that she’s being fucked by a German Shepherd.
David Bowie and Mick Jagger — “Dancing in the Street”
This is why we should all be glad that the 90s are dead and behind us if only because it nearly ruined David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Mick Jagger would make another run at ruining his career and the Rolling Stones’ legacy with the release of his solo album Goddess in the Doorway in November of 2001, which nearly overshadowed the events of 9/11 two months prior.
Regardless, that album pales in comparison with the travesty that is this masterpiece of shit, which captures everything that was wrong with the 90s in an excruciatingly long two minutes and fifty-eight seconds.
This is actually worse than those homemade ISIS videos. Viewer discretion is advised.