I am a child of the ’90s, and I am proud. I grew up in a decade when morality still meant something, and music that you could dance to was not automatically deemed uncool. Fortunately, in recent years my nostalgia for the culture of the ’90s has found an outlet.
If you had a pulse in 1997, you probably are still trying (and failing) to get the song “Barbie Girl” out of your head. For that, you can thank the Danish bubblegum/dance pop group Aqua. With 11 singles (including three you might actually have heard before), the dulcet tones of Aqua were with me through countless Harry Potter books and childhood dance parties.
In 2010, Aqua released a greatest hits compilation featuring three new singles, which was followed up last year by a new full-length release available as an import to us United States fans (assuming I’m not the only one). You can sit on your high horse and extol the political resonance of Lady gaga, or you can shake what your mama gave you and celebrate the ethereal beauty of life. If you prefer the latter, go with Aqua.
Without a doubt, one of the most seminal TV show of the 1990s was Boy Meets World, which ran on ABC from 1993 to 2000. Like many other children of the ‘90s, I was captivated by the story of Cory “Hey, I’m average” Matthews, Shawn, his sensitive best friend from the wrong side of the tracks, Topanga, his beautiful and brilliant girlfriend, his increasingly clueless yet profound brother Eric, and his ever-sagacious teacher/next-door neighbor Mr. Feeny. The show gave us such timeless pearls of wisdom as “Life’s tough, get a helmet,” and “Tears are the thank-you-notes of the soul.” It was dramatic; it was hilarious.
Recently, ABC Family has obtained the rights to Boy Meets World, airing it in 2.5-hour mini marathons most weekday mornings beginning at 7 a.m. Do yourself a favor: join me in watching them and picking up on the sexual innuendo and subtle class commentary that went right over my curly head way back at the turn of the 21st century.
The ’90s would have been nothing without the trans media marvel Pokemon. The TV show, movies, and trading card game were all well and good, but the true highlight of the Pokemon franchise was its original product, a series of Game Boy games. I can think of few things more thrilling in 1999 than setting out to defeat all eight Pokemon gym leaders while attempting to capture and train all 151 (and then 251 and then 386 and then 493) Pokemon. It was a hero’s quest set to lo-fi synth music (think early Rilo Kiley, but repetitive). We are all grown up now, but when our love interests fail to call, or we fail midterms for no apparent reason, wouldn’t it be nice to escape into the world of Pokemon, where we can save the game before an important life event, and go back and restart if things don’t work out the way we wanted?
If your answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ I have good news: you don’t have to wait until the next time you return to your childhood home to dig up your old, scratched Game Boy from under your bed (don’t try to pretend you ever actually parted with it). Every single Pokemon game has been uploaded in its original, authentic format to Playr.org, where I and innumerable other children of the ’90s with bad cases of arrested development can indulge our desire to regress. And you know what? I’m not even embarrassed. After all, there are few things more deliciously nihilistic than getting two Dittos to battle each other.