Welcome to the first edition of what I like to call BACK TO THE 90s. This is where I look back at the popular music of the 1990s and make lists off of each year. Let’s start things off with 1990. At this point, we were still getting over the 80s, which refused to die as evident by the trends still lingering around from it. Hip-hop was making its way into the pop charts. R&B is starting to embrace the New Jack swing sound. Glam rock was slowly being pushed out of the charts, setting the stage for a new rock subgenre from Seattle that would eventually blow up. Also dying out was Latin freestyle (which was a subgenre of dance music that enjoyed its heyday in the 80s), mostly thanks to the artists either not scoring any hits or making godawful ballads. Speaking of ballads, adult contemporary/soft rock was still going strong and most of the artists/songs involved sucked. There is a shit ton of ballads that were popular during this year and it was reflected on its Year End Hot 100. So let’s get into the worst music of 1990.
At this point, riffing on 80s Chicago is pretty much cliched, but they pretty much brought it onto themselves making soft rock bullshit like this song. What Kind Of Man Would I Be? pretty much sums up every Chicago song released in the 80s, from the lightweight AC/SR (adult contemporary/soft rock) instrumentation to the vague lyrics about love. Because of this, there’s really not much to say about this song. This is ballad number 84 from the band and it’s interchangeable with the other ballads they’ve done. They’re not even trying anymore, they’re just making the same song over and over again. This song would end up being the last song from Chicago that makes the Top 10 or Top 20. It’s things like this that makes you question if it was all worth it in the end.
So this pile of moldy cheese is called She Ain’t Worth It and it’s from Glenn Medeiros, who hit it big with his cover of Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You in 1987. This song has all of the trademarks of bad pop songs of its time. The sloppily-mixed synths and plastic drums that sounds like the K-Mart version of an R&B song, the nonpresence of Glenn Medeiros as a singer, the asinine lyrics about a girl who’s playing hard to get that reeks of chauvinism, and Bobby Brown as a guest feature and he’s rapping in it. If there’s one thing that can make your song worse, it’s having Bobby Brown rap on it because he’s terrible at it. If anything, this song ain’t worth the trouble of listening to.
I know there’s people out there who likes We Didn’t Start The Fire, but let’s be honest. This is one of Billy Joel’s weakest songs to date. I get what he was trying to do here, but the execution was WAY off. He makes a bunch of historical references and doesn’t even connect them together. He doesn’t even say anything about these events nor do they have anything to do with each other. The only thing coming close to linking them together is the hook, which isn’t that bad, hell, it might even be good if the verses had a rewrite. This whole song is like reading an entire history book in one sitting, an exhausting experience to the point where you just want to EAT the goddamn book out of sheer boredom. The instrumentation is Joel’s most uninspired work to date which is disappointing because his songs usually have some of the best instrumentation in rock music. Listen to songs like Piano Man, Just The Way You Are, Big Shot, hell, even I Go To Extremes, which was released on the same album as this. All I’m saying is Joel is above this crap. He’s more talented than this. Billy Joel…
Confession: I don’t hate U Can’t Touch This. I’m not saying it’s great either, but it’s inoffensive compared to other songs out there and for a dumb party song, it works. Maybe I’m being too kind because of nostalgia. Have You Seen Her, on the other hand, blows like a hurricane. First off, Hammer is ripping off the Chi-Lites song of the same name just like he ripped off Rick James for U Can’t Touch This and it is shameless. The original song was about a guy whose girlfriend or wife left him and him feeling lonely without her (or at least that’s my interpretation of the song). Hammer’s version is just a generic “looking for love” song. He basically ass-raped the original with this schmaltzy adult contemporary crap. Even Drake, with all of the ballads he’s done, would pass on doing this. MC Hammer’s Have You Seen Her is the kind of song that people think of when it comes to rappers selling out, a dickless, testicleless cheese-fest love song that even the audience it was made for would find lame.
Now for our first one-hit wonder of the 90s. This is Tommy Page, who was affiliated with New Kids On The Block, touring and doing music with them. This is his big hit, I’ll Be Your Everything, so what’s wrong with it? For starters, this sounds like every other soft ballad released during that time, right down to the ugly electric piano that just makes my skin crawl. Also, this guy sings like he has no penis. I have never heard such a high-pitched voice coming from a male since the early days of New Edition. Hell, Justin Bieber when he first became famous had more bass in his voice than this chump. And he’s singing to some girl about being her everything, which is both lame and vague. That’s nothing more than an empty promise which doesn’t mean a damn thing in the long run. With shit like this, I’m not surprised that Tommy Page didn’t last.
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…… Oh, I’m sorry. For a second, I fell asleep from how boring this song is. Don’t Know Much is another slow, adult contemporary ballad. The instrumentation is exactly what you expect from these type of songs. The vocals from both Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville are uninspiring and half-assed. They sound like they didn’t even want to record this and I wouldn’t blame them if that were the case. Let’s get into the meat and bones of this snooze fest, the lyrics. They’re based around these two having selective amnesia. That or Alzheimer’s. They don’t know much, but they know they love each other. Excuse me while I barf. What kind of middle school, puppy love crap is that? Cheesy romantic comedies would laugh at a line like that. That is just sappy as all hell, just like the rest of this crap song.
Listen to both of these songs together. Am I the only one noticing that they sound exactly the same? This can’t be a coincidence. Remember what I said earlier about Latin freestyle dying out by the start of the 90s? I wasn’t lying. These two songs prove my statement as both Sweet Sensation and the Cover Girls were part of the Latin freestyle scene and the music that they made before sounded radically different. If someone asks what freestyle music sounds like, you wouldn’t point them to THIS. If Wishes Came True is Sweet Sensation’s most successful single, reaching number one on the Hot 100. If that doesn’t scream sellout, I don’t know what does. Add that to the soft rock instrumentation and the underwritten lyrics and you got yourself a sellout ballad made for radio play. It’s sad because I’ve heard some of Sweet Sensation’s other songs and they were kinda decent unlike this sluggish schlock. As for We Can’t Go Wrong, the Cover Girls literally sound like the Chipettes from Alvin & The Chipmunks. It’s clear that they have the same helium supplier as Michel’le. Their voices sound Autotuned, yet this song was released in 1989 and Autotune didn’t even exist until 1998. It gets worse with the chorus where the instrumentation is louder and their singing all of a sudden sounds like a death cry. Both this and If Wishes Came True sound like something straight out of a soundtrack to a bad Disney Channel Original Movie. No wonder Latin freestyle is dead.
Let’s ignore the lip syncing controversy for a second and focus on the music. I’m not exactly breaking any hearts in saying Milli Vanilli sucks. Their music is the epitome of soulless, manufactured pop music made for mass consumption, All Or Nothing being an example of that. A lot of the worst aspects of late 80s music is wrapped up in this song. You have the horribly-dated clusterfuck of a beat with an obvious sample, laughable attempts at rapping, and generic lyrics. This is a song written by a committee desperate to appeal to the youth of the time and their tastes. It’s made worse by the fact that the two dudes who are the face of Milli Vanilli weren’t involved in writing or production. Hell, they didn’t even contribute any vocals to this song as proven by the scandal they were involved in. Only thing they did was dance like idiots. Milli Vanilli: what happens when a manufactured pop act created by the music industry goes wrong.
Be honest. You all saw this one coming a mile away. For the first time ever since doing this site, I’m finally gonna talk about Vanilla Ice, one of the biggest jokes in hip-hop history. You wanna know something sad that isn’t a joke? Not only did his debut album went 7x platinum (which is more than Jay Z’s best selling album), but he is permanently embedded in history for having the first rap song to be number one on the pop charts with Ice Ice Baby. Dear sweet Jesus, this is bad. Ice pretty much soils Under Pressure by Queen with this weak ass beat. He also sucks as a rapper. His lyrics are amateurish, his flow is clumsy, and he can’t ride a beat even if it had a steering wheel. Seriously. Every time he raps, he sounds off-key and that’s unforgivable. That’s something that happens when you’re still trying to find the rhythm, not when you’re recording a song in a professional studio. Get this: in this song, Vanilla Ice acts like a gangsta-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Please. Look at this guy.
Well, to be fair, the record label was the one pushing this gangsta bullshit. Ice was just a young guy who was given an opportunity to make a lot of money and he took it. Still doesn’t change the fact that his music is hot garbage. Once people found out he’s a phony, they turned on him quicker than the hyenas turned on Scar at the end of The Lion King (which I think is funny because it makes you wonder what would happen if his career started today). Vanilla Ice now represents both the commercialization of hip-hop and the stigma surrounding white rappers. Be grateful that Eminem exists.
And now, here are some dishonorable mentions.
- Phil Collins-Another Day In Paradise
- Heart-All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You
- Nelson-(Can’t Live Without Your) Love & Affection
- Taylor Dayne-Love Will Lead You Back
- Rod Stewart-Downtown Train
- Michael Bolton-When I’m Back On My Feet Again
- New Kids On The Block-This One’s For The Children
- Jive Bunny & The Mixmasters-Swing The Mood
- Mellow Man Ace-Mentirosa
- Kyper-Tic Tac Toe
And finally, the worst song of 1990 IS……
Michael. Fucking. Bolton. I have been waiting on this day for a long time. Now that day is here. Time for some carnage. Quick backstory: through the 70s to mid-80s, Michael Bolton used to perform hard rock and heavy metal music (shocking, I know) both solo and with the short-lived band Blackjack, but then, starting with the mid-80s, he started doing more adult contemporary/soft rock while butchering classic R&B tracks with his covers. This brings us to How Am I Supposed To Live Without You. Dear Lord, I hate this song with a passion. Where to begin with this dick sandwich? The instrumentation has the murky electric piano, dull percussion, and unimpressive guitar work. Micheal Bolton’s singing voice always sounds like he’s passing a kidney stone while constipated, especially when he’s belting. He’s like the Chad Kroeger of the late 80s and 90s. This song is also very melodramatic as he sings about heartbreak after his woman leaves him (geez, I wonder why). He just sounds desperate here, there’s no emotional weight for me to give a shit. On Twitter, I had said that no other genre of music pisses me off more than adult contemporary/soft rock and this song is part of the reason why. Everything that irks me about the genre is present here and they’re turned to maximum levels of shit. Congratulations to How Am I Supposed To Live Without You for being the number one worst song of 1990. Fuck Michael Bolton, fuck his stupid mullet haircut, fuck his nails-to-the-chalkboard voice, and most importantly, FUCK THIS SONG!!
So those were the worst songs of 1990. BACK TO THE 90s continues next month with the Worst Songs of 1991.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
Need You Now-Lady Antebellum
N.Y. State Of Mind-Nas
ILLuminate-Ab-Soul ft Kendrick Lamar
Baba O’Riley-The Who