Some song lyrics describe universal human truths and stand the test of time. And then there are others that mention pagers and talk shows. There are quite a few songs from the '90s that are irrelevant today. I mean, most people no longer worry about beepers, and it would be odd to find a modern song that mentions a CD-ROM. Sometimes the mention of outdated technology or pop culture can double the nostalgia factor of older song lyrics.
It isn’t the lyricists’ fault that technology do not stand up well over time. Who knew it would change so quickly? I mean, having 57 TV channels really did feel like a big deal in 1992. And for a few years, pagers did feel like the height of communication. But it’s difficult to look back a couple of decades later without smirking at the outdated tech. Furthermore, I’m sure in a couple of decades, many modern songs will likewise feel dated. (I’m looking at you, “Hotline Bling," and any song that mentions a phone blowin’ up.
And technology isn't the only thing to make songs feel dated. Pop culture references are bound to feel passé in a few years. It’s hard to remember that talk shows were such a juggernaut in 90s pop culture. And who today can imagine someone calling out the Hanson brothers and Marilyn Manson in the same breath? Whatever the case, it’s fun to look back and appreciate how much has changed since the '90s (and in some cases, how much has stayed the same).
1. "Skypager" by A Tribe Called Quest
"Skypager" by A Tribe Called Quest is all about this outdated technology. But the song also mentions Donald Trump's checks, so some things don't change.
2. "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt
No Doubt's "Spiderwebs" is a ska-tastic song that's all about the answering machine. Remember the days when leaving home meant you weren't reachable by phone?
3. "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" by The Offspring
The Offspring's "Pretty Fly" is a humorous take-down of wannabe types that still stands up today. But its reference to Ricki Lake, a talk show that ended in 2004, makes the karaoke classic a little less relevant.
4. "Star 69" by R.E.M
"Star 69" by R.E.M. is another song that references outdated phone technology, i.e. Star 69. The ability to know who called you used to be a really big deal.
5. "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies
Barenaked Ladies' "One Week" has a ton of pop culture references, but it's mention of "watching X-Files with no lights on" makes the song super '90s. I wonder if they'll release an updated version of the song to celebrate the show's reboot.
6. "What's My Age Again?" by Blink-182
In "What's My Age Again," Blink-182 bemoans the way Caller ID makes prank phone calls difficult. But these days, getting an anonymous phone call almost never happens. And when it does, you don't answer.
7. "Bug A Boo" by Destiny's Child
"Bug A Boo" by Destiny's Child mentions AOL emails, pagers, and MCI (a defunct telecommunications company). Technology may change, but Bey's cultural influence is still going strong.
8. "57 Channels" by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen "57 Channels" laments the absence of quality entertainment in 1992. Now there are almost endless channels and this is still kind of a problem.
9. "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals
"You Get What You Give" by New Radicals name-drops some fabulously '90s celebs like Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson. Although, to be honest, I would love to see a fashion shoot with these four today.
10. "Juicy" by Notorious B.I.G
"Juicy" by Notorious BIG proves that Biggie was a gamer. I mean, anyone can respect a man who just wants to play son his Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis?
11. "Making A Name For Ourselves" by Common
Common's "Making A Name For Ourselves" serves up this lyrics that reference a CD-ROM, and is 1997 to the extreme. The rest of the song is brilliant, but this one line hearkens back to the days of dial-up.