Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

The 90s pop war did not take place

Especially as it was preemptively won by Alistair’s definitive top 100 songs of the 90s.

I must admit, I found the short lived outbreak of 90s-pop hostilities a little depressing. Not because the songs were terrible, although some of them certainly were, indeed the opposite; the music of the early 90s was often so good, current pop music can’t really stand up. I realize there’s a danger of nostalgia, but this isn’t just a matter of subjective taste. The diffusion of acid house and hardcore into chart music that was such a big feature of the early 90s is, in hindsight, kind of amazing, and a positive development that I can’t see much to equal today. Marky Mark is a particularly good example. When I remembered his existence, I had no memory of what the song sounded like; certainly, it didn’t occur to me that a manufactured pop idol would was launched with a song that owes so much to an Italo-house classic. If you want to be depressed, just compare Marky Mark’s amazing track with the contemporary equivalents (James Blunt, maybe, or Daniel Powter).

Well, there are a couple of contemporary trends that give some hope. One would be Timbaland’s remarkable queering of R&B, particularly on the Justin Timberlake album. Pleasingly, this is being picked up by other R&B and hip-hop artists, particularly in the Bay Area, as I discovered from this great hyphy mixtape (mix-podcast?). Particular good is Berkeley group The Pack’s track, “At the Club,” which, unexpectedly, sounds like nothing so much as Belgian New Beat.