Music videos have been a part of my life since I was a very young child. The first time I ever saw MTV was at my grandparents’ house in Chicago. I don’t remember watching cable until we moved to Georgia. Watching MTV was a “big kid” activity some of the videos were about things we didn’t understand yet. Others were straight up Nightmare Fuel, like “Mr. Roboto” by Styx and “Land of Confusion” by Genesis.
I think we started watching MTV on a regular basis in about 1985 and here are some of my favorite ’90s music videos. These are mostly from the nineties because I covered a lot of my eighties video memories in the roundtable.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” Nirvana
I actually used Teen Spirit deodorant at the time and I was amused with the title even though the personal care product had nothing whatsoever to do with the song. Now I listen to the song and the refrain, “Here we are now, entertain us” strikes me as a little chilling given some of the posts I see on social media.
“Love Shack” B-52’s
This was a really fun song when I wanted to get up and dance. Great beat and the lyrics painted a vivid picture from Fred’s Chrysler that was “big as a whale” to the glitter on the mattress and the “rusted” tin roof. I also really liked the outfits, especially Kate’s red fringed dress.
“Under the Bridge” Red Hot Chili Peppers
Anthony Kiedis’ long hair and tattooed chest, Flea’s ski cap, and a starry sky are most of what I remember from this video. I really enjoy lyrics and this song had some beautiful imagery. It showed up in the end of the year slide show when I was a freshman in high school. Or maybe it was my sophomore year? It could even have been both.
“Epic” Faith No More
This was another image-heavy video. I still feel sad when I think about that poor little goldfish flopping around.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen (With Wayne’s World clips)
A couple of weeks before Wayne’s World came out, my mom had us come into the living room and sit down. Then she queued up “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the CD player.
As much as I’d like to say my brother and I loved the song from the first note, it was a little bit like the opening of How I Met Your Mother, with the two kids sitting on a couch. Two weeks later, she was the coolest mom on the block and she didn’t even know the song was in the movie when she played the song for us.
The music video for “Bohemian Rhapsody” was also getting heavy airplay on both MTV and VH-1 at that time. With clips from Wayne’s World cut into the video, it was the best way to relive the best scenes until the eventual VHS release. Also, as time went on, it got to be less about the movie and more about enjoying the band’s music, especially Freddie Mercury’s amazing voice.
As interested as I am in lyrics, I’m going to guess the first time I heard the song, I probably tried to follow the plot. Of course now, it doesn’t seem all that complicated. A guy kills another man and he feels really conflicted about it for a while but eventually decides it doesn’t matter to him.
“November Rain” Guns ‘n’ Roses
This video was another one that told a story, but I was mostly there for Stephanie Seymour’s bridal couture and the fancy suit coat Axl was wearing looked pretty good too.
“Stay (I Missed You)” Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories from Reality Bites
In the mid-1990’s, some artists were into stripping away all the heavy production and some sang earnestly in what looked like abandoned buildings. I liked Lisa Loeb because she looked like me, a mousy brown-haired white girl with glasses singing about her insecurities about whether or not the person she likes likes her back.
I also really liked the movie Reality Bites, which featured “Stay (I Missed You)”. Hopefully, I’ll be watching my copy of Reality Bites soon and I’ll post an article about my memories of taking myself out to see the movie after school shortly after it premiered.