Posted by: John Adams | January 30, 2009

25 Songs to Remember the 90’s By: Part 2

20. “You Gotta Be” – Des’ree

“Listen as your day unfolds / Challenge what the future holds / Try and keep your head up to the sky.”

The unexpected success of the New-Agey “You Gotta Be,” which peaked at #5 in 1994, earned British songstress Des’ree recognition on this side of the pond, resulting in a flourish of soundtrack appearances and even (I think I remember, though I can’t substantiate this) the theme-song spot on The Oprah Winfrey Show. People eventually came to their senses and realized that Des’ree was annoying, but thanks to cameo appearances on TV shows like The Office, “You Gotta Be” continues to enjoy a second life.

19. “Lovely Day” – Out of Eden

“When I wake up in the morning, Lord / And the sunlight hurts my eyes … I look to You and the world is alright.”

The video for this song, which was released in 1994, is an index of mid-90’s fashion, with the three Richmond, Va., sisters sporting plaid jumpers and a host of outfits from the Gap. A Canadian friend sent this to me on a mixtape, and it might as well have contained an infectious disease. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I dare you to listen to this song without it getting stuck in yours…

18. “Waterfalls” – TLC

“A lonely mother gazing out of the window / Staring at a son that she just can’t touch.”

The same techno-loving neighbor I mentioned in part 1 got me into “Waterfalls,” the biggest hit of 1995 and one of the biggest of the decade. The music video, one of the most expensive ever made at the time, is in keeping with the theme of the song as it chronicles the descent of a neighborhood boy into a lifestyle that eventually gets him infected with HIV and addicted to drugs. Unfortunately, TLC member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes not only sang about tragedy, but also met a tragic fate when she was killed in Honduras in a car accident in 2002.

17. “Boy on a String” – Jars of Clay

“I feel a sadness like Gapetto / Watching the life that he created run away.”

If I could, I would put Jars of Clay’s entire first album on this list. Their self-titled debut set the bar for Christian music high when it was released in 1995 and established Jars of Clay as the premier Christian band of the decade.

The list is called “25 Songs…”, however, so I have to choose one. My choice is “Boy on a String,” which weaves the story of Pinocchio running away from Gapetto into an enchanting folk song embellished by some stellar violin work.

No video for this one, unfortunately. But the audio is available below:

16. “Barely Breathing” – Duncan Sheik

“I know what you’re doing / I see it all too clear.”

The lyrics don’t seem quite as deep as they did the day I first heard this song at the beach, but Duncan Sheik’s ode to being led on still strikes the right chord with me. A softly insistent lead-guitar line, graceful harmonies, and a suave bridge made “Barely Breathing” the most-played song of 1997 and earned it a nod at the ’98 Grammies. It didn’t win, and Sheik never had another hit, but this song continues to be an alternative-radio mainstay twelve years later.

Numbers 15-11 will be online tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend!

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