I dunno where you were when it was the 1990s. Maybe you were growing up like I did. Maybe you were an adult working, trying to make a living, or maybe you were just born during that decade…but whatever the case may be, you cannot deny that the 1990s- the decade, had some pretty cool stuff going on, in the realms of TV, movies and music. I mean, think about it for a moment. In 1994, quite possibly one of the most poignant and heartfelt Disney cartoon movies graced the cinemas in The Lion King, while the 1990s also gave to us the first in the Disney/Pixar movie series, Toy Story. Movies like Good Will Hunting, Mrs Doubtfire, Clueless, The Matrix, The Castle, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Braveheart, The Parent Trap, Schindler’s List, The Truman Show, Space Jam, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, were all prominent in society and culture way back when I myself was growing up, not to mention one of the most underrated movies in the whole 1990s decade, That Thing You Do. The Nintendo 64 was around during the 90s decade also, and I can remember myself as a kid, always staying up late during my primary school years, playing N64 games like 1080, Diddy Kong Racing, Mario Kart and the ever-popular Banjo Kazooie. And while I myself wasn’t really much of an avid TV show watcher during the decade of my growing up, a lot of TV shows debuted during the 90s era- some of them standing the test of time: Seinfeld, Friends, Buffy, Twin Peaks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The X-Files, Fraiser, Full House, Spin City, Boy Meets World, Dawson’s Creek, My So Called Life, Freaks & Geeks, Party of Five, Charmed, Seachange and The Sopranos, are just some of the many, many TV shows that were delivered to our TV sets and screens during the decade, and though I haven’t seen any of these shows aforementioned (I may check out shows like Freaks & Geeks, and Party of Five soon), what I will say is this- there are a lot of lost gems of the 1990s that seem to be swept under the carpet, either because there’s newer, more ‘relevant’ stuff out there, or its from the 1990s and is now considered ‘old’, but for whatever reason; the 1990s and all the good things that they have to offer in terms of TV and movies, seem to be moved to the side right now in 2020, in favour of whatever is currently following the trends when it comes to executives choosing which shows to deem popular and which movies to promote. And it’s not just TV shows and movies where you actually realise that the 1990s was a good era- music from the 1990s was a great time to be alive, too: Madonna, Mariah Carey, Alanis Morissette, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, TLC, No Doubt, U2, The Cranberries, Green Day, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Boys II Men, Elton John, Aerosmith, LeAnn Rimes, Steven Curtis Chapman, Rebecca St. James, Newsboys, Shania Twain, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Carman and DC Talk…well, lets just say that music from 20 or so years ago, are just as emotive, heartfelt, poignant, encouraging, challenging, unique and substantial (maybe even more so), than the music currently being played on the airwaves, in July 2020. Now let me add something else to this list. Above all the music, TV shows and movies I have represented here in this paragraph (so that we can reflect upon and admire and respect the 1990s for how great it actually was); there is one artist that often gets overlooked if we say the word ‘1990s’- even though they themselves have had quite an impact on this decade as everyone else. Known mostly for their chart-topping hit ‘Mmmbop’ way back in 1997 (and I’m not sure if there’s any other radio single that has reached the heights of that, since!); we are discussing this week, boy band, Hanson.
How long do you reckon someone needs to be within the music industry for them to be influential or impactful to people of generations old and young? Do you have to be within the realms of music for ages and ages like U2 and release years upon years of chart-topping songs, or can you just be a year in your career, someone like Billie Eilish or Lewis Capaldi, and still have an impact on music and/or society as a whole? Well, I guess the truth is…I don’t really think it matters how long you’re in the music industry- 2 years or 20 years. What matters, I reckon, is the artist’s ability to create music of a nature that is able to inspire, impact, affect people, challenge societies, give hope and become a catalyst for positive change- if the song does that, regardless of how old the artist is (or maybe in artists like Billie Eilish’s case, how young the artist is!), then they are in for stardom quicker than anyone can ever believe. The trick is to maintain that grounding- physically, spiritually, psychologically and mentality, when you’re constantly under the microscope of the media, 24/7. The pressure can sometimes get to you, just understanding the full gravity of how outside people are always looking at you to see if you can slip up in your performances in any way. The stage is set, and people, no matter how kind or good-natured they can be, are often passing judgement, unintentionally, I’m sure. Nevertheless, more often recently, artists have been coming to the table which is ‘the industry’ younger and younger, and frankly, there seems to be a ‘throwing-out’ of these artists on a regular basis, as well. So to come back to my original question- preferably I reckon artists need to have a few albums underneath their belt for them to be called ‘influential’- otherwise anything less, I believe, is often framed as a ‘fad-of-the-times’- harsh but true.
Up unto now with my blog series, I’ve written about a fair amount of artists that have influenced the scope of music today, and with the music I’ve been immersed in, I’m reminded that music comes in all shapes and sizes, and that music can touch the heart of people in many different ways. Artists like Delta Goodrem, Lifehouse, Switchfoot, Shania Twain, Ed Sheeran, Rascal Flatts, Phil Collins, Sara Bareilles and Train (to name a few of the many, many artists I’ve delved into last year), have all stretched me as a person, as I’m reminded that, to be blunt, God can speak through many different avenues, and that a song doesn’t have to utter the word ‘Jesus’ for it to be impactful in today’s generation. I’ve written pages and paragraphs, written about this song and that, written about what I believe the songs mean for the artist, written about what I believe the songs mean for me personally, written about why I believe this particular artist is influential for a certain generation in society…I’ve written about a lot of things. I’ve been reminded that different styles and genres and the fact that we have them is a tremendous gift, that one person can connect with a certain style of music, and someone else can be impacted by another, is the beauty of music itself.
Can I be very candid and honest? I was never a big fan, if a fan at all, of boy bands. Sure I’d know about them from time to time, and more recently there was this wee little band called One Direction (and yes, I will discuss this influential band in length in another post dedicated to them!); but as a whole, boy bands weren’t at all that impacting to me when I was younger. Even now, they aren’t necessarily the most sought-out ‘genre’ of music that I’d listen to from the word ‘go’. Nevertheless, boy bands have shaped and moulded music and society as we know it- from Boyz II Men, Take That, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC and Westlife, to Jonas Brothers, Jackson 5, Boyzone and One Direction; boy bands have been sprouting up throughout music history aplenty, and thus, it is no wonder that one such artist from my list of 100 would be of the boy-band variety. And so for me to prepare for this blog post, I was a little unprepared throughout the week, and even now, I’m trying to find the words to say about this artist- words that will do them justice and respect the amount of success they’ve had since being a part of their former boy-band group. For me, this ‘genre’ of music is as much needed in society as it was back then- but when music for lack of a better term, is consumed at a faster rate as years go by; boy bands can sometimes fly under the radar to become the ‘forgotten’ ‘genre’ of music. This week’s discussion leads from the front with singer-songwriter Ronan Keating; an Irish singer who was one of the founding members of boy-band BoyZone, a popular Irish group in the 1990s. With around 10 albums under his belt, Ronan has solidified himself as one such artist, whom has successfully broken off from their former boy-band group, to have a relatively successful career as a solo artist- other artists to achieve such a feat include Robbie Williams (of Take That), Michael Jackson (of The Jackson 5), Ricky Martin (of Menudo) and Justin Timberlake (of NSYNC), to name a few.