1990 anno domini was a potentially fatal hybrid of the worst the ‘80s and ‘90s had to offer. Kind of like a rabid coy dog—a coy dog that devours joy and inspiration, turning it into a mulch of hyper-colored corporate cynicism.
Rap: In rap, you had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle scene. MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice were both accused of stealing samples from Rick James and Queen. No one claimed the insipid lyrics as theirs though. Vanilla Ice will be remembered as the Pat Boone of hip-hop. Except you do have Vanilla Ice on your iPod.
Rock: Hair metal reached its most absurd zenith in 1990. The year before, we had two “classics,” which came in the form of Aerosmith’s Pump and Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood—two Rockin’ Rehab Records (much of the acclaim for the two albums came from a “clean and sober” Aerosmith and Crue. Seriously, every review had the words “clean and sober.”)
In 1990, there was Nelson and Slaughter. At the risk of alienating the female readers (read: my girlfriend), this was the pussiest year in metal history.
Even then, we knew Nelson’s ode to Cindy Crawford (“I Can’t Live Without Your Love And Affection”) was really penned with Kip Winger in mind. The Nelson twins were like the Barbi Twins without the talent.
Slaughter, inexplicably, was critically acclaimed. When I bought Stick It To Ya at age 14, I listened to it over and over, incredulous that I couldn’t agree with RIP magazine’s glowing review of their Las Vegas softcore porn metal. Eventually I stuck to my guns and saw Mark Slaughter for the neutered, mall-metal eunuch he really was.
Huh?: C +C Music Factory and Milli Vanilli deserve a special place in hell. Dante is taking notes in his grave right now. Though one of the morbidly obese Weather Girls sang “Gonna Make You Sweat,” she was not in the video. The always-shirtless (and talentless) Freedom Williams was ubiquitous. Karaoke hell was officially erected on the watery grave of the music factory’s career. According to New York State law, shooting someone who sings any of their songs at karaoke is legally sanctioned, much like shooting someone for arson is: both assholes are trying to burn down the house.
Milli Vanilli may have been the worst of it though. The notorious lip-synching duo were like the black version of the Nelson twins, but without the talent.
Conclusion: 1990 will be remembered as the year of shitty twins, TMNT rap and ugly colors. Forgive me if I confuse 1990 with a run-down daycare center.