Maybe it's just my personal prejudice filtering through - actually, I know it is - but the '90s were the best. If there's anything that the million-dollar reunion of the Spice Girls for the Olympics closing ceremony proved, it's that the manufactured confectioneries of the Kurt Cobain years remain unmatched by any other pop phenomena, including the Biebs and One Direction.
But aside from the Simon Fuller's platinum-selling girls, has anyone kept track of some of our other beloved heroes of the decade taste forgot? What's happened to Nick Carter? Where is Abz from 5ive these days? Why is Bryan McFadden still on our televisions? These are serious questions that require serious journalism. So I paid someone else to do it and plundered fan sites and Wikipedia.
I have investigated these artists in the order they appear on the same playlist that has been cranked at nearly every party since I turned 18.
When The Lights Go Out - 5ive
5ive had the swagger, the parachute pants, the rapping that sounded like a 6 year old trying to grab his balls in public and all that spiky hair. Responsible, among other things, for destroying a classic Queen track and launching the ludicrously entertaining 'When The Lights Go Out' and 'If You Gettin Down' into the world, 5ive faded pretty quickly. In fact, they pretty much disappeared with the last millennium.
So where are the five bad boys with the power to rock you now? Perhaps tellingly, Sean Conlon and Jason 'J' Brown auditioned for The Voice in the UK and nobody chose them for the second round. Abz wandered into design and recently tried to sue Stella McCartney for taking credit for his designs of the Great Britain Olympic team outfits. Scott is touring with musical Boogie Nights 2 (it really does write itself, this narrative) and best of all, Rich IS IN SYDNEY and recently opened a bar and restaurant combo called Guerilla in Glebe. Go and find him ladies. He was always the hottest.
Save Tonight - Eagle Eye Cherry
The song that launched a bazillion car commercials and soundtracked twenty thousand bonfires, 'Save Tonight' was Eagle Eye Cherry's sole contribution to the '90s that managed to outlast both the decade and his career. The half-brother of Neneh Cherry (yes, it is his real surname) kept releasing albums as recently as eight years ago. Which means a long time ago. Which means nobody cares.
I Know Where It's At - All Saints
I cannot even begin to tell you how into All Saints I was. Primarily because I was in love with the Appleton sisters, who were total babes, but also because more than Mis-Teeq or any of their competitors, this quartet managed to get the ghetto-funk-urban vibe down without appearing totally stupid. They famously wrote the song that defined cult classic The Beach ('Pure Shores') and taught a generation of Aussie kids that the alphabet runs right from 'A to Zee', not 'Zed', as we were taught in school. God love 'em.
Always tabloid fodder, it's not hard to find out what happened to the Appletons. They both married rock stars; Nicole shacking up with Liam Gallagher and Natalie falling for Liam Howlett of The Prodigy. Melanie Blatt had a kid with the bass player of Jamiroquai, which means the '90s will live on with her forever, and Shanzay (the rapper) ended up appearing in films like Bend It Like Beckham and writing songs for a new generation of female popettes. Also, she had a kid called 'Tigerlilly.' Two 'l's. Seriously.
You Gotta Be - Des'ree
Des'ree is hilarious. Her music is emotionally gut wrenching but features some of the most facile lyrics on Earth (try 'I don't want to see a ghost/It's the sight that I fear most/I'd rather have a piece of toast/Watch the evening news' from Life). The grammar-unfriendly neo-soul singer had a slew of hits through the '90s, including her lauded star turn playing herself in Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet with 'Kissing You'.
Poor old Des has had a rough time of the last decade. She sued Beyonce for covering Kissing You without her permission, had 'Life' voted the Worst Lyrics of All Time by BBC6 listeners in 2007 and went back to Camberwell college to study ceramics and art. Surely that's fodder for a whole new albums' worth of songs, right? Right?
Luv Me Luv Me - Shaggy
Jamaica was doing so well in the pop culture stakes until Shaggy (and later Sean Paul) became famous. Bob Marley's homeland had given us nothing but good vibes for decades, and then along came this sex pest who sounded like he'd swallowed a car horn - an admirable feat considering he rose to prominence at the same time as Ja Rule, who sounded like he'd been run over by said car. Shaggy contributed three huge hits at the tail end of the '90s, including 'It Wasn't Me' (pro-tip: it was) 'Mr Boombastic' and 'Luv Me Luv Me'. Then he just refused to die.
As it turns out, the guy just keeps releasing music, five LPs since he hit it big. He's launched his own label, held free shows in Kingston to promote new singles and is presumably still telling girls it wasn't him.
Kiss Me - Sixpence None The Richer
When Pacey and Joey got together on Dawson's Creek it was the first simulated sex scene I ever watched on television. The show that broke a million hearts and paved the way for The OC was defined by its theme song, this lovely piece of whimsy from Sixpence None The Richer, who possessed what was arguably the dumbest band name of the '90s outside of Limp Bizkit. They also covered Crowded House and The La's, as if to apologise for the name.
Right, so these guys are super Christian. Their name is influenced by a C.S. Lewis passage on Christianity, singer Leigh Nash recently released a 'worship album' and in 2007 they dropped a Christmas record called The Dawn Of Grace. Matt Corby and Guy Sebastian had nothing on this band. And to think, their song was the soundtrack to so much underage nookie. The universe works in strange and mysterious ways.
As Long As You Love Me - Backstreet Boys
Backstreet Boys were better than *NSync; I think we can all safely say that with the passing of time. While they spawned no Justin Timberlake, their albums were better produced and they crashed and burned so much brighter that it seems stupid not to give them preference. In case you're under the age of eighteen, these five Orlando lads once sold 28 million hard copies of their debut record. They bettered that with Millenium, which went into a million homes in A WEEK in 1999. Safe to say, you want to marry one of these guys. Except A.J. A.J. is messed up.
A.J. has basically been in rehab for ten years, on the advice of his good mate Kevin, the first member to leave Backstreet Boys and also the only one to be a Versace model. Nick Carter got into his own trouble, ending up on Ellen discussing why he had to stop drinking if he wanted to stay alive. He also beat Justin Timberlake in an arm wrestling match on Jimmy Fallon in 2009 and had sex with Paris Hilton. You win some, you lose some. Brian got married and was boring and Howie, who everybody expected to be the gay one, trumped all odds by having two kids and touring with Britney Spears. But that's OK, because we always have Lance Bass.
- The Vine