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Weekend Earworms: ’90s Pop Replacement

An estimated 98% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times that we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things ever.

We here at Nerdist are dead-set on bringing you those types of songs, if only for the weekend. We’ll be scouring the internet for the best earworms we can shove into your meaty brains!

As I mentioned before in this column I’ll be tapping into the musical predilections of other folk. This week’s suggestion came from the delightful associate editor Alicia Lutes! I say delightful and I mean delightful. In my experience working with her, I don’t think there’s a more positive person working for Incredibly insightful reviews, thoughtful op-eds, and always a kind word, always a happy tone – she can’t be beat! Having said that, I COMPLETELY hate her guts for what she suggested this week.

When Alicia suggested a late ’90s song – which we’ll get to in a second – I immediately flashed back to my freshman year of high school and all the wonderfully horrible (or is it horribly wonderful?) music from around that time. The song, arguably a “one hit wonder”, was described as causing her a “seriously confusingly weird anxiety” and… I completely understand what she meant. There are some songs that stop being songs. Somewhere along the way they cease being a song to listen to and just become reference points of conversation. This probably happens with every generation with a sliding span of a few years of music.

These songs get especially stuck in my head because they were prevalent when my stupid little child brain became a stupid little adult brain. There’s a massive amount of songs committed to memory from my high school years. It was either: remember every pop song possible, or apply myself at “learning” in school so I could become “educated” and “go to a good college” so as not to “disappoint my parents”.

So the place in my brain that COULD have been occupied by the “pride of having a college degree” is instead filled with some of the following songs. Luckily, songs don’t take up as much room as pride and I’m able to store other tracks from these same artists that I would argue are much better than the pop hits.

So this week we’ll have the pop songs that somehow stopped becoming music and another by the same artist (some off the very same album) that can serve as a palette cleanser/distraction from the annoying earwormy pop song.

Alicia’s suggestion was a brutal one to start with. Walk into any karaoke night with some 30-somethings in it and you’re bound to hear…

Harvey Danger – Flagpole Sitta

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad song – but let’s face it, it had its time in the ’90s and should have stayed there. Harvey Danger’s music was perfect for the late ’90s and their album, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, is a fine specimen of ’90s indie/pop/rock. Problem is – at least for me – that hearing Flagpole Sitta nowadays doesn’t let you listen to the song. Instead, it serves as a mental earmark for the ’90s and the song is over before being able to appreciate it. Instead, I offer up a suitable replacement is Harvey Danger’s cover of English Beat’s 1982 song “Save It For later

Despite the vague fake British accent applied in this cover, it is song that is equally as catchy but somehow not as annoying. (That sounded incredibly insulting; I sort of didn’t mean it that way)

So, since Alicia threw down the gauntlet of overplayed ’90s pop, it is my duty to retaliate with something even worse (better! I mean better.*) songs from that time, [*No, no I didn’t, these are worse]

Blues Traveler – Hook

Apologies all around. I’m sorry I had to do that to you. However, it needed to be done so I can make the following statement. Blues Traveler deserves more praise than most people give them. John Popper and the rest of the group are amazingly talented and should be given a hell of a lot more credit and be remembered for more than just “Run Around” and “Hook”. If I were to hit the lottery, I’m fairly certain an embarrassing amount of money would go to hiring John Popper to Harmonica solo directly into my face. However, should you need to forget the overplayed “Hook”, may I suggest the “Crash Burn” track off the same album?

Right!? That. Directly into my face! It’s still a bit hokey with the “let every member of the band solo the same riff” but I don’t care. “Crash Burn” is my go-to song from that album that, despite still being incredibly ’90s, sounds like something that could still be heard coming out of a blues-y dive bar.

Hey! speaking of a lack of segues! Here’s another annoyingly catchy song from the late ’90s

Oasis – Wonderwall

Yeah, I know. Once again, I’m sorry but let us all remember that these songs are ultimately all Alicia’s fault.

Oasis is a great band and I believe anyone to say anything to the contrary is just angry at something else. It’s my belief – just as with the other songs – they just got EXTREMELY overplayed over the years so it’s understandable that people would grow a bit resentful and this song in particular would become a bit, lets say, monotonous. Sure, they have their reputations, but let’s see you try to be a creative band while constantly being compared to the Beatles. That’s a bar set impossibly high, and yet, the band still put out some incredible tracks. Should you find yourself pinned against a “Wonderwall,” all you need to do is take a breath and “Don’t Look Back in Anger”

My terrible puns notwithstanding, it’s a beautiful song.

Finally, saving the best for last, quite possibly one of the most overplayed songs in the last few decades.

Barenaked Ladies – One Week

Let’s just address what needs to be addressed with this song so that it’s finally settled: Outside the year 1998, there is not a single person in the goddamned world – under any and all circumstances – that is impressed that you know the words to this song.

Oh boy, it feels so good to get that out there. I feel we’ve made a real breakthrough today. We can finally move on to another BNL song “Who Needs Sleep?”

So there you have it, some late ’90s pop to get stuck in, and subsequently out of, your head. I’d like to think there’s usually a palette-cleansing song by the same artist somewhere in their repertoire.

Side Note: I sincerely tried to think of overplayed hip hop or R&B from around that same time and I learned two things. 1) I have a bigger soft spot for ’90s rap, R&B, and slow jams than I thought I did as I could not find any that really annoyed me. 2) Busta Rhymes must have owned stock in fish eye lenses. Like a whole lot!

What are some ’90s songs that your brain can’t let go of? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

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