Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’90s, Vol. 3
Bottom Feeders is back! And this time, we’re going ’90s on your ass. If you missed the two ’80s editions, here’s the deal. Bottom Feeders takes a look back at every song that hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but only if they didn’t crack the top 40. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive review of each tune or each artist, but rather my view of the music I grew up loving. It’s meant to bring back all the great and really crappy songs that have faded into oblivion over time for one reason or another. And, the series is designed to get discussions going about the music. I don’t have expert knowledge of every song posted here but I want to hear from you with your memories of the tunes, comments about a artist or general thoughts.
Section 1: The Ass End
“Speed” 1993, #74 (8 weeks) (download)
“Speed” is one of these tunes that I just can’t picture anyone playing on the radio. I’ve heard the song before but Philadelphia radio couldn’t have done much with this if anything because I only remember if from picking it up sometime in the ‘00s.
Alpha Team were a rave crew from Chicago made up of Dane Roewade and D.J. Attack. “Speed” goes down as a novelty record thanks to all the Speed Racer samples included in it.
A.L.T. and the Lost Civilization
“Tequila” 1992, #48 (14 weeks) (download)
Yeah, of course it’s that “Tequila” but a rap remake from Al Trivette aka A.L.T. who was one of the rappers in the Latin Alliance that also happened to do a pseudo-remake of War’s “Low Rider” – essentially the two songs that it feels like every Latino artist does as some point in their career.
What happened to Amber in the charts seems very typical to the decade. Her first single “This Is Your Night” was a smash hit, or so I would have thought upon hearing it every 10 minutes. Or maybe it’s just because Night at the Roxbury is one of my favorite movies and it’s got a part in it. But it only hit #24 on the Billboard chart. She had other good songs like “Colour of Love” but nothing as catchy as the first one and therefore couldn’t recreate the (sort-of) chart success right out of the gate.
“God” 1994, #72 (12 weeks) (download)
“Caught a Lite Sneeze” 1996, #60 (13 weeks) (download)
“Silent All These Years” 1997, #65 (20 weeks) (download)
“Spark” 1998, #49 (14 weeks) (download)
“Jackie’s Strength” 1998, #54 (5 weeks) (download)
“Bliss” 1999, #91 (2 weeks) (download)
Another oddity of the charts here, as Tori Amos never had a top 40 hit. With how unconditionally loved she was for the longest time and with some really good songs at the beginning of her career, it’s a bit of a shock. “God” went to #2 on the modern rock chart and that ended up being her best song in terms of numbers. They clearly didn’t matter though as Tori went on to be a sensation even if her recent music is of debatable quality.
“Got To Tell Me Something” 1990, #66 (7 weeks) (download)
This is the same Ana that barely made a blip on the chart in 1987 with “Shy Boys.” This one went to #66 at least but was her final charting single.
“It’s Alright, It’s Okay” 1997, #57 (20 weeks) (download)
Leah Andreone was the Alanis clone of the moment in 1996 and had two shots to make it happen – first with Veiled in 1997 which was a personal record and two years later with Alchemy which was had more of a sexual vibe to it. Neither were very good overall, but the catchy chorus of “It’s Alright, It’s Okay” gave her her only hit.
“Release Me” 1996, #52 (20 weeks) (download)
“I Don’t Need Your Love” 1996, #69 (11 weeks) (download)
“Without Your Love” 1997, #82 (15 weeks) (download)
“Tide Is High” 1997, #89 (4 weeks) (download)
Honestly, I thought I wouldn’t encounter any artist in the ‘90s with this many hits that I had never remotely heard of but here she is, right in the letter A. Joel Whitburn tells me she’s from California and on Upstairs records. I’m supposing I’ve never heard any of these because there just wasn’t a station in Philadelphia (where I grew up) and Trenton, NJ (where I went to college) that really played pure dance music. And that’s what makes four songs here so surprising. This really isn’t the dance pop that was hitting at this time, all of them are really club tunes so I would have expected these to show up only on the dance charts. And yes, “Tide is High” is a remake of the Blondie tune.
“Living In Oblivion” 1990, #65 (10 weeks) (download)
I know my weaknesses and one of those is real knowledge of Anything Box, a group which never got any airplay in Philadelphia but seems to be a beloved institution in the world of synthpop. So I called in an expert. Enter faithful reader, King of Grief for his quick take (thanks KoG)
KoG: Euroda…nope, scratch that. It’s three kids from New Jersey, whose lone Hot 100 entry set Houston airwaves and dance floors aflame at the ass end of 1989. I was working at an indie record shop when “Living in Oblivion” was first picked up by our Top 40 outlets, and before a commercial single was issued, confused customers would pick up the self-titled Living in a Box album thinking they were getting that hot new dance song on the radio. Eventually the 12″ would hit shelves, followed by their major-label debut, Peace. Even after their deal with Epic fell through, Houston maintained its A-Box loyalty, on the air and in the clubs, for years to come. The original lineup–Claude Strilio, Dania Morales and Paul Rijnders–still tours regularly, having made H-town stops twice in the past three years. The existence of an Argentinian fan page on Facebook goes to show just how far south their popularity flourishes.
“Gangsta Bitch” 1993, #67 (10 weeks) (download)
I don’t remember anyone that ran in my crowd that didn’t think “Gangsta Bitch” was the jam. This song was one of the more serious tunes on Apache’s debut album – Apache Ain’t Shit – which was highly controversial at the time. People didn’t know whether to laugh at things like “Who Freaked Who” in which female rapped Nikki D sang about how Apache sucked in bed or cringe at blatantly racist tunes like “A Fight” and the interlude “Kill D’White People.” No part of the record has ever bothered me though.
Around the Way
“Really Into You” 1992, #89 (5 weeks) (download)
It didn’t take much in 1992 to get an R&B hit. Take one of the best and easiest beats from the ‘80s to sample, add a hip-hop drumbeat behind it and voila, a hit was born. And even though singer Lena Fraticelli didn’t have a fantastic voice, it was good enough to get Around the Way their 15 minutes of fame.