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.
The ’90s brought us something interesting too, in the form of the airplay chart. The chart started in 1984 and ran until December of 1998. The Hot 100 was based on both airplay and sales of the single version of the track. The airplay chart was created for those songs without commercial singles. This didn’t occur a lot in the ’80s but was very prevalent in ’90s especially with alternative and college rock tracks. At the end of 1998, they made these songs eligible for the Hot 100. I’m not going to talk about those tunes that hit the airplay chart only, but they will be posted in a special section so you can see what songs would have charted had Billboard revised their policies earlier. Also listed but not discussed will be the top 40 hits and the bubbling under tunes. They are on pages 2-4 if you are interested.
Songs will remain posted for a month after they first show up before being deleted, so grab ’em while their hot.
Section 1: The Ass End
It’s kind of fitting that the Ass End of the ‘90s begins with a teenage rapper. The ‘90s were the decade that anyone that could half-ass a rhyme could get a record deal and kids were no exception to the rule.
Andre Levins was a New York rapper who was born in 1982 which made him 13 at the point “All I See” was released. “Enjoy Yourself” is the better of the two tunes here even if Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven” was sampled for the 10,000th time on it.
Though I see no other evidence of a record, it seems like he’s still making music as he released a video called “Who Stole Hip Hop?” in 2009. I’m pretty certain that A+ is in the clear on this one.
“Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” 1995, #75 (8 weeks) (download)
Considering that Aaliyah had her first hit at 15 and before she died in 2001 was a superstar artist and had a budding movie career, I don’t think it’s out of the question that she could have still been a major hit today.
If you had to name one Aaliyah song today you’d probably go with “Are You That Somebody?” first, which was her biggest hit in the ‘90s. “Try Again” went to #1 in 2000, but it’s the Timbaland produced smash that I remember the most. Well, that and the fact that she married R. Kelly at the age of 15. And look at that, R. Kelly wrote and produced “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.” Now that I’ve went back and listened to it again, Aaliyah kind of reminds me of Rihanna a bit.
Odd fact: The video for “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” had cameos from Bizarre and Proof of Eminem’s gang D12, quite a few years before anyone outside of Detroit had any clue who they were.
“Crazy Cool” 1995, #58 (9 weeks) (download)
I’m trying to think back to 1995 and remember if I even knew Paula Abdul put out a third album. I must have because I vaguely remember “Crazy Cool” maybe hearing it once or so but memorable it certainly isn’t. It was the second single off her “comeback” record (Head Over Heels) after overcoming bulimia. The album marked the sensual side of Paula but really, all I hear from this track is something way too adult for my tastes. Then again, it’s certainly not as stupid as “Vibeology” was. “Crazy Cool” was pretty much the end for Paula’s singing career but we all know what she’s doing now.
AB Logic is one of those groups where you remember the song(s) but probably couldn’t say who made the track if there was a gun to your head. For the general public the group was rapper K-Swing and singer Marianne Festraetes but the group and songs were created by producers Jacko Bultinck, Peter Gillis and Phil Wilde. Although both of these could be any one of 1,000 similar songs in the early ‘80s, “The Hitman” remains to this day a recognizable hit song.
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“Big Gun” 1993, #65 (11 weeks) (download)
Hey now! It’s AC/DC sounding like AC/DC. The only reason this one was a hit was due to it being part of the movie Last Action Hero. Otherwise, it probably would never had appeared on an AC/DC album and thus we would have been spared.
Ace of Base
“Whenever You’re Near Me” 1998, #76 (5 weeks) (download)
Ace of Base is of course Abba for my generation and I have no problems admitting I liked both groups. I may tend to lean towards Swedish death metal these days but growing up my favorite Swedes were all pop stars.
By the time “Whenever You’re Near Me” came out as the second single off Cruel Summer you kind of new it was the end of the line though. The track technically wasn’t even on the European version. Instead, Clive Davis didn’t think the international hit “Life Is A Flower” wasn’t good enough for America, so the track was recut in a different key and the title was changed to what’s here. Well…the title was changed every place but on the Arista website which was the only promotion for the song, labeled “Whenever You Need Me.” Man, Clive Davis can be a douche.
“The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You” 1996, #52 (12 weeks) (download)
I know outside of Canada Bryan Adams can be quite uncool but up until the mid-90s I kind of enjoyed what he was releasing. Waking Up the Neighbours has always been a favorite of mine even if it’s way too long and that record was the start of him mostly collaborating on his own material with Mutt Lange instead of Jim Vallance.
18 til I Die was actually the first album that didn’t have one song co-written with Vallance and Jim has been known to throw in a dig every now and then about the clichéd lyrics on the record with songs like “The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You” and of course the ridiculous “(I Wanna Be) Your Underwear.” That song by the way, is the point I stopped caring at all about Mr. Adams.
Note: Bryan’s duet with Bonnie Raitt in ’95 will appear in her section.
It can often be an interesting look back at the start of the career of current country superstars. Many times these guys have been around for much longer than you expected and like in the case of Adkins, start out with a more traditional country feel than they have these days.
I would have never guessed Adkins had tunes this far back. I mean, I listened to no country music at all until I met my wife in mid-aughts so for me, Trace Adkins is “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Hillbilly Bone.” Both of these tunes aren’t anywhere in the ballpark of those hits. “Every Light in the House” was off his debut record, Dreamin’ Out Loud and “The Rest of Mine” was off Big Time and to this day I do believe marks the only hit song he’s ever had that he had a hand in writing.
Adventures of Stevie V
“Jealousy” 1991, #94 (6 weeks) (download)
Stevie V was actually Stevie Vincent, another producer who manufactured a group to generate 15 minutes of fame. The singers Melody Washingon and Mick Walsh are probably sitting somewhere now serving burgers but their debut record generated two hits in the US and was kind of big in England.
Aerosmith only released two studio albums in the ‘90s – Get A Grip and Nine Lives and then two more in the ‘00s with one being a blues record, so how these guys are still kind of relevant, I’m not sure, but they are. I guess it comes down to Steven Tyler being such an oddball and now that he’s been on American Idol, Aerosmith may just go on forever.
I bought every album right through 2001’s Just Push Play and hated that so much that I gave up on them (not that I really had anything to give up on afterwards). But Get A Grip was a damn fine record even if they were now more about the gripping, epic ballad than anything else. “Blind Man” had some balls to it but was still more like “Amazing” and “Cryin’” than their harder rocking material. It was one of two songs off the Greatest Hits record from them that almost everyone owns, Big Ones.
“Hole In My Soul” is a decent song – the second single from Nine Lives, surprisingly released before “Pink” which won them a Grammy.