Five '90s Musical Fads We Remember Well, But Don't Really Miss

A little over a decade ago, swing music made a strange comeback. You may remember seeing people all over dressing like '40s hipsters, jumping and jiving in Gap commercials and most every club or bar was offering swing lessons.

It started with the release of the film Swingers, which still miraculously holds up 14 years later, and ended with Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5," which effectively and swiftly made us look down at our wingtips and trade them for shell-toe Adidas.

Friday night, one of the biggest swing bands of that era, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, hits House of Blues to play songs from last year's Cab Calloway covers album How Big Can You Get along with '90s hits like "You and Me and the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)" and "Go Daddy-O."

Craig's Hlist came of age in the '90s, and from the beginning of our adolescence have been a pop-culture whore, so we took a hefty bite out of most every musical fad that came along during the Clinton decade. Yeah, we owned a Sublime record or two, and yes, we did have one or three floral-print shirts even though we can't surf, swim, and are allergic to campfire singalongs.

We aren't gonna talk about that, though. You don't need to know how many bucket hats Craig's Hlist owned either, or that Eminem ruled our life for six months in 1999.

The '90s seemed to be a time of rough seas for music, with everyone looking for a life raft to hold on to. Even the grunge scene was fraught with drugs and strife. With every new fad came a gaggle of news outlets and magazines hailing it as the "next big thing" that would revolutionize music for years to come. It wasn't so much about quality, as much as everything seemed to be about being so bored that you invented false hype to make things have more weight.

We miss all these fads in different ways, because for us each of them was an important stepping stone to a more enlightened (haha) time in our musical development. Without buying a Chemical Brothers record, we wouldn't know Kraftwerk. Without hearing Green Day in 1994, we wouldn't have known about The Clash and erected a shrine to them in our parents' house.

5. Electronica

We creamed all over ourselves for techno when it hit in 1996. It was cold and clinical, chicks danced to it, and we had an inkling that we could do with just a laptop and turntable.

We watched Amp on MTV most every Sunday night, taking notes on what to buy and listen to, making our mother drive us to Chemistry Records off Westheimer so we could buy techno wax. Then we sold it all once we discovered Oi!.

We even had a small electronica cassette project we made out of our room, marking our first and only foray into making music. Rest In Peace, Taint Mansion.

4. Swing

Being the worst dancer in the world, we didn't get into the dancing part of swing but we bought all the records we could. In 1998, bands like Cherry Poppin' Daddies played the Warped Tour, solidifying its coolness to punk kids.

The lyrics were raunchy and it was something you could relate to your grandparents with, though our probably thought we were on "the pot" when we went rummaging for Louis Prima records in their vinyl stash. On the plus side, a lot of younger swing kids ended up finding out about psychobilly and rockabilly through a tear in the swing wormhole.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty