Perhaps I have a biased opinion – I was born in the early 90s and got to experience most of the gloriousness that the music from the day has to offer – but don’t those catchy poppy little gems from the 90s and early 2000s offer great nuggets of wisdom? Let me share these life hacks with you now.
“One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies
Half autobiography half clusterfuck of words, this song taught us what it really means to listen. If you don’t pay close attention you will A) miss out on the juicy details of a romantic squabble between the narrator and his partner and B) your cue to yell out the words you actually can pick out (“…BACK-SWING!”).
Most of the lessons that we can actually make out from this song, besides the skill of speed singing, are mostly facts about the narrator of the song but some other seemingly small but highly-relevant life lessons we can learn include:
1. Romantic fights can last for a long time. Jeez, forgive the guy!
2. Sushi never touches a frying pan.
3. Vanilla is the finest of the flavours.
4. Vertigo-inducing activities require a waiver.
5. When you eat a drumstick from the Chinese Chicken your brain stops ticking.
6. If your golf clubs have big nubs they will always fly off your back-swing.
7. Birchmount Stadium is home of the Robbie.
“No Scrubs” by TLC
This song is a helpful mix of relationship advice, new vocabulary words, and a glimpse into history. Right of the hop, TLC kindly explains what, in fact, a ‘scrub’ actually is. If you were not previously aware, here is the Official Definition of the term “scrub.”
Scrub (n.) [scuh-rub]
1. A guy that thinks he’s fly.
2. A guy who always talks about what he wants and just sits on his broke ass.
3. A guy that can get no love from TLC.
4. A guy that is hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride trying to holla at girls.
5. A guy who doesn’t have a car and is walking.
6. A guy who lives at home with his momma.
7. A guy that has a shorty that he doesn’t show love to.
8. Also known as a “buster.”
As we can see here, ladies and gentlemen, is that there are many ways to be a Scrub. According to TLC a male can be a Scrub but research has yet to determine if this is a two-way street that includes females. The wide-reaching definition of Scrub would also ensnare environmentalists and those who perhaps are paying off outrageous students debts. This is an unfortunate side-effect of such a precise definition but those who fall under those categories must simply work a little harder to gain the affections of a lady according to TLC.
With the updated dictionary fresh in our minds, what else can we learn from this informative piece of 90s music? Well in short, one does not want to be a Scrub. To do so would be lethal to one’s dating game. Become a Scrub and you might as well swallow romantic bleach. She will not want your number, no, and she will not want to give you hers. This will make it very difficult to continue communicating with the object of your affection.
But do not lose hope! In today’s technologically advanced society, one does not always need a phone number to pursue the fair lady. This is where “No Scrubs” shows us what life was back in the olden days. Today, although you may be without a phone number, you are not without options. Stalking on social media is always a good plan. People love when randoms who hang out in cars that are not their own poke them, tweet them, direct message them, like their Instagrammed photos, and check up on their FourSquare. User beware: if you have time to all that for a person who hardly gave you their time of day you may indeed be a Scrub. And a Creep (Creep).
“Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera
(I don’t know why the videos aren’t loading here for this and the next song but I’m working on it. The link should be working though. Sorry!)
There are two very important lessons we can learn from this song.
Number one is that Christina Aguilera is, as we all have long-suspected, a genie. She lives in a bottle and there is a price to pay for her services. Not that I can blame her. She’s got some terrific talent that can keep you up all night. You do know I’m talking about her powerhouse singing voice right? (Pervs.) Everyone has spent at least one night in their lives dancing in their room well into the night belting out “WHAT A GIRL WANTS! WHAT A GIRL NEEDS!!!” without a care in the world. This is a prime example of Christina’s magic.
The second lesson here is that there is actually a technique to rubbing genie lamps. Who knew?! Apparently you can’t just rub them willy-nilly and expect magical wishes in return. I don’t know if Aladdin knew this or if he simply got lucky but I feel I have been living a lie up until I learned this vital information. If you have been aimlessly rubbing lamps in hopes of some wishes you might want to give the song more attention and brush up on your technique.
“I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys
First and foremost, this song is a prime How-To get people singing. And not just sing, the Backstreet Boys taught us how to perform. One cannot simply listen to this song without dramatically extending their arms, singing with their eyes closed, and genuinely, even if just for a moment, wanting it that way.
If you’re a struggling songwriter and want to get a song that literally stops traffic when it comes on just so the people can sing, this is the song for you. Rumour is the Backstreet Boys, upon the release of this song, wrote a book with Celine Dion entitled “Power Ballads: Why Our Hearts Will Go On and Why We Want it That Way”.
Now to break it down further, we learn that couples who struggle with heartache, mistakes, or never wanting to hear the person say “I want it that way” should simply start asking each other key questions to really get into each other’s craniums. Questions like “am I your fire? Your one desire?” will help the asking party determine what makes their significant other tick. Communication is essential to any sort of relationship whether it be romantic, professional, sexual, platonic or all of the above (especially if its ‘all of the above’) and BSB does a great job at suggesting the questions you should be asking.
Life can be complicated and hard. “I Want It That Way” tells us this. Distance and the inability to reach to the other’s heart are obstacles many of us will face in the game of love. Things get particularly tricky when you never want to them say ‘I want it that way’ but deep down you actually want it that way. Please be clear about this or no one will understand what you’re talking about.
Discovering which way is the Official That Way is also an ongoing research project that I have been conducting since the song’s release in 1998. I will inform you all of my findings when they emerge. I’m sure the results will also be full of lessons.
“Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy
Did you get caught cheating? Well first, you should really ensure that you haven’t given your (official) boo any keys to your house as we learned that doing so can lead to these awkward situations. Should you in fact get caught red-handed simply deny everything! It doesn’t matter if s/he claims to have caught ‘you’ on the counter, banging on the sofa, even having them in the shower, or heaven forbid she caught you on camera – DENY DENY DENY! Sees the marks on your shoulder? Wasn’t you. Heard the words you told them? Wasn’t you. The logic here is flawless.
Shaggy doesn’t offer much insight into what you should do after you deny freaking with the girl next door or what to do if they don’t believe that it was in fact your long-lost twin with a key to your apartment that she caught in the act but this is not his problem. He has spun you a web so perfect, it was probably you who messed up the execution of the plan.
Let’s sum up: You don’t know what to do? Say it wasn’t you.
“The Macarena” by Los Del Rio
This song taught you the most recognizable dance in the world. Some schools in Latin America actually implemented Macarena exams that you had to successfully pass before entering the workforce. While I can only speculate as to the validity of that statement, I can promise you that you have danced The Macarena. If not, your only other option was to be That Guy at your uncle’s wedding when everyone is laughing as they dance and you sit in your chair looking like a stick in the fun-squashing mud.
The Macarena is always socially acceptable. It is truly a life hack for dancing. Just because none of us know the name of the band off-hand does not mean you don’t know the dance. It can just be applied to so many scenarios. Say you were just born for the dance floor: you’ll thrive at the chance to get your twinkle toes moving. For those who do not know how to dance, well you don’t exactly need rhythm do you? If you can physically move your arms and even somewhat remotely twist your hips, you’re golden in the eyes of Los Del Rio.
You can even dance the Macarena ironically. Say you’re at a club and the ladies just aren’t feeling your fist pumping in their faces. Start doing the Macarena and soon you’ll have a different set of hands on your hips.
It boils down to this: you need to know this dance. For better or for worse, it has stood the test of time. Don’t believe me? Do you really think people will still know Soulja Boy’s dance to “Crank That” in 20 years? False. Do you even know it now? MACARENA FOR THE WIN!
“Wannabe” by the Spice Girls
Ahhh the classic. The epitome of what was great about the 1990s – the Spice Girls. We’ve learned much from these girls but “Wannabe” of all their songs offers some great relationship or pickup advice.
Is your game just not quite what it used to be? Well let the Spice Girls tell you what they want (what they really really want) and you’ll be beating chicks away with a stick. This song is a manual of love’s Dos and Don’ts.
While this list will not do it justice, here is a brief sum of information that we ladies wish all men knew when trying to approach us.
- if you want her future, forget her past.
- If you wanna get with her, you better make it fast because sometimes girls just want to know what’s up. You don’t always need to take it slow, says the girl group.
- If you have your act together you will be just fine. Much like TLC, these ladies want a man with maturity and a general sense of togetherness.
- But DO NOT go wasting her precious time because if you really bug her then she’ll say goodbye.
- And most importantly – gentlemen write this down – if you want to be her lover, you gotta get with her friends. I’m just going to assume she means that she wants you to talk to and hang out with her friends. The semantics of this advice may be implying a different activity with her friends but chances are this is not what she meant. You enter at your own risk (hehe) if you actually get with her friends.
Well there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Consider yourselves much more learned, wise, and love-savvy. If I do a part two, what songs would you want to learn about?
I also apologize for putting together a list of the most catchy songs in the world. I can only imagine the mash up of 90s pop that’s now stuck in your head.