Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Where have you gone, Eagle-Eye Cherry?: A tribute to terrible late 90s hits

Last week I caught an episode of PBS' American Experience on the 40th anniversary of The Summer Of Love. I've already written about my love-hate relationship with baby boomers, so I probably should have known better than to watch this, for the second time no less. But there was no way I could turn away. I might have come of age three decades later, but gushing retrospectives about the boho '60s make me nostalgic for my own crazy, mind-expanding, "you shoulda been there!" college years in the late '90s.

True, when I was going to college in Eau Claire, Wis. during the Clinton era, wanton sexual exploration meant learning how to masturbate without disturbing your roommate sleeping a mere five feet away. And when we did drugs, we were not spiritual pilgrims in search of God, we were just fucked up on drugs. But, sweet Jesus, were we fucked up! And I'm sure getting supremely stoned and watching The Gong Show is ultimately about as enlightening as "rapping" about The Tibetan Book Of The Dead with earnest hippies.

Music, of course, is what really brings me back. There are loads of classic records from that time: OK Computer, Odelay, Perfect From Now On, Either/Or, Endtroducing, Homework, Moon Safari, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Summerteeth, The Soft Bulletin, Overcome By Happiness, and 69 Love Songs, to name several. (Feel free to substitute your own classics in there, or judge me harshly for my picks.) But I never think of college when I hear them. Those records are timeless; I return to them periodically, and they remind me of a sandwich I ate last week as much as the womanizing hockey player that was my freshman year roommate.

(Speaking of which, here's my million-dollar sitcom idea, unveiled publicly for the time: A womanizing hockey player and a hairy-palmed pop culture geek share the same dorm room, and constantly clash over their differences. He's cool, he's not! He's shoots, he doesn't score! It's The Odd Couple meets Animal House! Working title: Hockey And The Puck. You know where to find me, Apatow.)

Anyway, the music I associate most with my college years is what was played on local Top 40 station 100.7 The Zone. I worked for my school newspaper The Spectator all four years of college, and The Zone was our soundtrack. Nobody on staff liked The Zone, and yet we could not turn it off. The station's insistence on playing the same 10 songs over and over mirrored our existence, where every week seemed like an endless loop of Wednesday and Sunday night deadlines. Good music would have seemed incongruous with the atmosphere of the newsroom.

The net result of this is my strange love of terrible late '90s radio hits. Most people shriek and turn the channel when Eagle-Eye Cherry comes on. I, on the other hand, am reminded of my crush on Jamie the cute copy editor. Or the time our editor-in-chief put his naked buttcheeks on the window of the female sports editor's office. And damn it all if it doesn't make me feel wistful.

I love terrible late '90s radio hits so much that I've compiled them all in one place, for the first time. It's called Spectator Songs: Your Favorite Terrible Late '90s Radio Hitz! and it's available to anyone masochistic enough to track all the songs down. That is, if they don't all end up stuck in your head before then.

(A quick note about the track listing: I realize some of these songs are actually terrible early '90s radio hits. The Zone is one of those small town Top 40 stations that only plays songs that have first been successful in every other market in the country. I'm betting that The Zone, if it's still around, is just now getting around to Soulja Boy. Are they in for a treat or what?)

Spectator Songs: Your Favorite Terrible Late '90s Radio Hitz!

Disc One?

"Semi-Charmed Life," Third Eye Blind?

"Push," Matchbox 20?

"Walking on the Sun," Smashmouth?

"All For You," Sister Hazel?

"Save Tonight," Eagle-Eye Cherry?

"Sweat," Inner Circle?

"Angel," Sarah McLachlan?

"Rhythm is a Dancer," Snap?

"Meet Virginia," Train?

"Flag Pole Sitta," Harvey Danger*?

"Fly," Sugar Ray?

"Hook," Blues Traveler?

"Dammit," Blink-182?

"You Get What You Give," The New Radicals*?

"We Like to Party," The Vengaboys?

"Ready to Go," Republica*?

"Torn," Natalie Imbruglia??

Disc Two?

"Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," Baz Luhrmann?

"Tubthumping," Chumbawumba?

"The Freshmen," The Verve Pipe?

"Blue," Eiffel 65?

"Kiss Me," Sixpence None the Richer?

"How Bizarre," OMC?

"One Week," Barenaked Ladies

"Sex and Candy," Marcy Playground?*

"Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hands," Primitive Radio Gods

?"She's So High," Tal Bachman?

"Missing," Everything But the Girl?

"Take a Picture," Filter*?

"I Need to Know," Marc Anthony*

?"Livin' La Vida Loca," Ricky Martin?

"Steal My Sunshine," Len?

"Mambo No. 5," Lou Bega?

"Summer Girls," LFO

*Actually not that terrible

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