1991 at the Movies – The Terminator, the Beast, and the Killer

Thirty years ago Terminator 2 raked in more than $520 million which, when adjusted for inflation, would be just a hair short of $1 billion today. The third biggest film of 1991 remains in the discussion for greatest animated film ever as Beauty and the Beast turns thirty this year. The story, the voices, the animation, and choreography were so breathtaking that it got nominated for Best Picture, where it lost out to Silence of the Lambs (more on that below). Movies thirty years ago certainly were devoid of superheroes, weren’t they?

The following is a list of the stand-out films of 1991.

The Laughs

L.A. Story

Whether you have visited or lived there, L.A. Story is a hilarious spin on every stereotype the City of Angels has to offer from traffic to cosmetic surgery. Steve Martin plays a weatherman that you can’t help laugh along with as he tries to find a sense of meaning in his life.

Hot Shots!

If you liked Airplane!, this is right up your alley. It has the same director, Jim Abrahams, and the same style of laughs only this time they come courtesy of Top Gun and the Gulf War. Charlie Sheen plays a slapstick take on Tom Cruise’s Maverick character. If you like a good spoof comedy, this is worth your time.

What About Bob?

Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss may seem like a surprising duo for a comedy, but they are wonderful here. Murray is the neurotic Bob Wiley, a man driven by his multiple phobias who gets therapy from Dr. Leo Marvin, a self-centered therapist played by Dreyfuss. Their clash of personalities turns this into a comedy gem.

The Thrills

La Femme Nikita

If you like films about bad ass females, look no further. A thieving junkie turned assassin, Nikita is a teenage killer working for top secret government agency called Section One. This French action-thriller is one of director Luc Besson’s (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element) best films.

Silence of the Lambs

The legend of Hannibal Lecter begins on screen with Anthony Hopkins’ knockout performance of the highly intelligent, cannibalistic doctor. The movie itself, starring Jodie Foster as a detective trying to hunt down a serial killer, is creepy, terrifying, and gripping; it is a classic.

Cape Fear

This thriller is one of Scorsese’s most underrated (or forgotten?) films. Rarely have you seen Robert De Niro in the role of a villain but he is frighteningly nasty here as a ruthless sex offender seeking vengeance on the lawyer (Nick Nolte) who helped put him behind bars for 14 years by withholding valuable evidence.

The Drama

New Jack City

Wonderful film about the crack epidemic in the inner city during the ’80s. Wesley Snipes hits a home run as flamboyant drug dealer Nino Brown and Ice-T gives one of his best performances as an undercover cop and there is also a stellar cameo by Chris Rock as a crack head. This film not only took the crown as highest grossing independent film of ’91, it is enmeshed in hip hop culture forever.

The Josephine Baker Story

This is a fantastic biopic on Baker, known as the first international Black celebrity during a time in America where racism had no boundaries and civil rights were nonexistent. Lynn Whitfield is stunning here as the exotic dancer, with a performance that earned her an Emmy nomination. If you like biopics and dazzling art design and costumes, you will not want to miss this HBO original.

Barton Fink

If you’re a fan of Coen Brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) movies then this quirky yet funny film about 1940’s Hollywood. John Turturro and John Goodman are wonderful in this movie about a playwright suffering from writer’s block after being recruited to Hollywood to write a screenplay. The costume and set design is worth your time alone.

Jungle Fever

You won’t be able to put your feelings about race or interracial relationships aside during this film, an oft-forgotten one from Spike Lee’s marvelous filmography. It’s about a married Black architect that falls in love with his white secretary. Great performances all-around but the standout is Samuel L. Jackson as the architect’s crack-addicted brother.


This is one of the best movies about drug addiction, even more compelling because the addicts are two undercover cops trying to bust a big-time, yet evasive, drug dealer. The deeper the case gets, the worst the addiction and the movie becomes more of a cautionary tale than anything else. This is also the film that Eric Clapton’s, “Tears in Heaven” was recorded for and would become his best-selling U.S. single.

The Best

Beauty and the Beast

Look, I’m not one to get gushy or all that interested in animated films but this one is simply magical. The mere fact it was the first ever animated movie to be nominated for an Academy Award says it all. Its stunning beauty filled with rich scenes and memorable characters is a timeless treat for all to enjoy.

Boyz N The Hood

NWA introduced the world to Compton; Boyz N the Hood gave us a slice of life in South Central, Los Angeles. To be more specific, it’s a beautifully done coming-of-age story that is anything but a happy fairy tale. Laurence Fishburne and Cuba Gooding Jr. are incredible as a father trying to raise his son to avoid the distractions of his rough surroundings.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Not much else needs to be said about it other than it remains in the debate for greatest action film ever. Between the thrilling action sequences from beginning to end coupled with revolutionary special effects, it is, in my opinion, close to flawless as an action film.


There are only so many terrific political thrillers in the last 40 years but this is one of them. As director Oliver Stone takes you on a thrilling journey that questions everyone (and everything) involved, you’ll leave the movie questioning the reality around JFK’s assassination in every way imaginable.


3 Songs from 1990

This is not so much a recommendation for these songs as it is an analysis or informational piece on them. As a teacher, I enjoy the hell out of teaching and that is what I am trying to provide here. Whether you like these tunes or not, my hope is that you learn something about them and their place in history as it pertains to the ’90s decade. My goal is to pick a song from each of these genres: Pop, hip hop/R&B, and rock. As these are broad subjects, I’ll include any alternative/metal songs in the rock category (don’t kill me).

The Biggest Pop Song of the Year (and the backlash)

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

As far as love songs go, “Nothing Compares 2 U” is difficult not to like. It is easy to sing along to and there are some lines that people just have to belt at the top of their lungs when they hear it. In terms of staying power, it has remained relevant since its release in 1990, when Billboard itself named it the #1 single in the world at the first ever Billboard Music Awards. Written and composed by the legendary Prince, O’Connor’s cover is beautifully sung. There is not a moment throughout the tune that you can not hear the heartbreak and pain in her voice.

The song itself is only half the tale. Due to an extremely controversial moment on Saturday Night Live in October 1992, many people wanted to forget the song altogether. O’Connor, a native of Ireland, went on SNL and tore a photo of then Pope John Paul II to pieces after her live performance. The audience, both in studio and at home, was shocked. Why would she do such a thing? O’Connor was protesting the abuse of children in Ireland by the Catholic Church, news that the rest of world would not find out about until more than twenty years later. It did not go over well with many people as NBC received several thousand calls complaining about O’Connor’s actions. Unfortunately, her career never recovered. Now almost thirty years later, many believe O’Connor is owed an enormous apology for revealing the truth more than twenty years before the rest of us found out.

*If you’re interested in seeing the full incident play out, watch below. It comes at the end of the performance.

The Hip to the Hop

I Left My Wallet in El Segundo – A Tribe Called Quest

The title itself made us do a double-take. Then there was the name of the group: A Tribe Called Quest. Their main rapper called himself Q-tip and his fellow MC was named Pfife Dawg. Who was this smooth, groovy, eclectic group and why did they sound so different from other rap? It turns out that “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” would be our introduction to the iconic hip hop group from Queens that would go on to release three, some would argue four, phenomenal albums. I imagine if jazz had wanted to turn itself into hip hop, it would have become A Tribe Called Quest.

In 1990, hip hop was mostly known as Run DMC and N.W.A. along with two enormous pop rap singles on radio in the form of “U Can’t Touch This” and “Ice Ice Baby.” This is not to say fans of the genre were not keen to ’80s carryovers such as KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, or Public Enemy. They were still popular, but mainly by true hip hop fans, not the public at large. A Tribe Called Quest presented America with a silky hip hop touch, one that felt as if it came from a stoop in Queens. If Nirvana was going to be alternative rock, A Tribe Called Quest helped set the foundation for what some would call alternative hip hop (although, to me, it’s just hip hop, but that’s a converation for a different post).

“I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” is nowhere near Tribe’s biggest or best, but it is the first song they released to the masses. It came off their astounding debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths to Rhythm. The album presented a sophisticated side of hip hop that mainstream had begun warming up to thanks to De La Soul’s 1989 album, Three Feet High and Rising. While many in music labeled De La Soul’s quirky style as hippie rap, People’s Instinctive Travels showed that this laid back style of rap would not be a mere flash in the pan. In addition to “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo,” provided a number classic tracks including, “Bonita Applebum,” “Can I Kick It,” “Luck of Lucien,” and “Push it Along.” It is one of those rare albums that can be listened to from beginning to end without ever hitting the stop button.

Rock (The Jane’s Addiction way)

Been Caught Stealing (1990)

“Been Caught Stealing” is one of the only songs I know of that not only uses dog barks, but uses them effectively as hell. Spending four weeks at the #1 spot on Billboard’s 1990 chart, “Been Caught Stealing” is memorable for some of its great guitar riffs and, well, that barking. The bark comes from lead singer Perry Farrell’s dog who he just happened to have brought it to the studio that day. According to Farrell, the barks being added to the song were “pure coincidence” as the dog would bark every time Farrell started singing. That the song is about stealing almost makes you almost feel bad for liking it. Almost.

There is another reason the song was a hit aside from its hilarity: the music video. It is incredibly difficult to hear this song without seeing the video play along with it. The video, directed by Farrell’s girlfriend at the time, shows a number of different peculiar characters shoplifting at a local grocery store. It is completely over-the-top, but it remains one of the great music videos of all time simply for its crude uniqueness. Also, it is hard to forget the vivid image of the guy singing with pantyhose over his head. The video caught the eye of the industry as well, winning the 1991 MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Music Video. VH1 also ranked it #47 on their 100 Greatest Videos list.


A 90s Christmas Movie Guide

You have heard friends and family tell you their favorite holiday films: It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Some people absolutely cannot go through the holiday season without a viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas whereas others feel the same about A Christmas Story. Whatever it may be, this collection features holiday films that were released in the 90s, a few of which remain mainstays every holiday season.

Best Holiday Movies for Kids/Families

Home Alone (1990)

A boy wearing a red sweater with his hands placed on his face. He is in the center of the picture. Behind him, outside a snowy window, to the boy's left and right, are two men dressed in black.

For those of us that grew up during the time this was released, it was the holiday blockbuster that came out of left field. Nobody expected it to become a holiday classic nor did anyone foresee how much money it would make at the box office (17th biggest hit of the 90s with over $476 million worldwide). Macaulay Culkin was a nobody until every kid was trying to mimic him after watching him play an entertaining and comical game of cat and mouse with two burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Is it my favorite? No. Is it a good time? Absolutely, especially if you have children of your own in the 7-12 age range.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1993)

Home Alone 2.jpg

If Home Alone goes on any Christmas movie list, you have to include the sequel for the mere fact that it is on par with the original. Kevin returns, but this time the situation drops him in the heart of New York City where the Wet Bandits have reappeared, played again by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Featuring a funny little cameo by future President of the United States Donald Trump (even if you don’t like him, it’s a nice moment), Home Alone 2 can be watched right after the original or as a standalone film. Yeah, this sequel is that good.

The Santa Clause (1994)

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Tim Allen was one of the biggest TV stars of the 90s due to the incredibly successful sitcom, Home Improvement. That success never translated to the big screen with the exception of this sincere film about an ad executive that has to replace Santa Clause after St. Nick has an accident on his roof. Usually known for crude and obnoxious humor, Allen reins it in for this film and delivers what is most likely his best movie performance. It’s a sweet homage to the jolly man in the red suit as well as a enjoyable film the family can enjoy together over Christmas cookies and hot chocolate.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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One of the only films in history that can be called both a Christmas and Halloween film. It is the quintessential holiday film that magically meshes the two festive holidays into one phenomenal piece of cinema. A lot of people think Tim Burton directed this, but he was the producer and has his name in the title of course. However, Henry Selick is the director and does not get enough credit for a holiday classic that has had far more success after its release in theaters as newer generations have taken a liking to it.

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

An image of Edward (the main protagonist) and his love interest

Quirky yet dark; sweet, but gloomy, Edward Scissorhands is Tim Burton at his emo Gothic best. While it does not have nearly the amount of laughs as Burton’s previous film, Beetlejuice, this tale, also starring Winona Ryder, is more of an old-fashioned romance between the girl next door and a social outcast to the extreme. As much as the film gives off an eerie feeling, it pulls at the heartstrings and is an amazing visual adventure as well. It also gives a peek at Johnny Depp in a leading movie role with this being the second such role for the year (Cry-Baby was the other).

The Below are NOT Family-Friendly Christmas Movies From the 90s

The Ref (1993)

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If you did not grow up or live through the 90s, there is a strong chance you are unfamiliar with comedian Denis Leary, who starred in this dark comedy about a burglar that kidnaps a dysfunctional couple on the verge of divorce. What is great about this film is its humor comes strictly from dialogue and character, most notably Leary and the incredibly tense back and forth bickering between Kevin Spacey, who plays the husband, and Judy Davis, who plays his wife.

The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

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I miss Geena Davis. She was once an A-list actress and this is perhaps the last film in which she was the leading lady. If you enjoy a great action flick, this one is filled with it and Davis plays one bad ass heroine. It also stars Samuel L. Jackson as a private eye trying to discover the truth behind Davis’ past. Not only does Jackson provide a lot of the film’s comedy, he has claimed The Long Kiss Goodnight is his favorite film to watch of all the movies he has been in. This is a great one for the holiday, especially if you’re a fan of action films.

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

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I almost did not include this one until I realized it is a decent action flick set against the backdrop of the Christmas season. It also features Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, and a young, up-and-coming Halle Berry. More importantly, it was written by Shane Black, a writer and director who almost always sets his films and screenplays around Christmas. An interesting caveat about this film is that it helped Willis maintain (or regain) his action star status after his Hudson Hawk came out six months earlier to disastrous results. Truth is, after Die Hard 2, Willis had a string of bombs and unsuccessful films in the early 90s. This was one of the few decent ones during those years until he turned it around beginning with Pulp Fiction in 1994.

Batman Returns (1992)

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Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) turned out to be one of the most successful films of the 80s and set up this successful sequel. It could be said that the Batman Returns was more anticipated than its predecessor because it featured Danny DeVito as Penguin and bombshell Michelle Pfeifer as Catwoman. While it does not quite have the impact that Batman did, it still possesses many of Burton’s great traits: great scenery and costume design. In addition, DeVito and Catwoman turn in a great Penguin and Catwoman so this one should not be overlooked come Christmastime.

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

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It truly amazes me how overlooked this Die Hard is in terms of the franchise itself. Many fans of the franchise often pick the original and than the third installment as the best. I disagree with both. Die Hard 2 is fantastic and easily, in my opinion, the best non-family Christmas movie of the 90s. There are no dull moments in this one as John McClane returns on Christmas Eve to pick up his wife at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC, one of the busiest airports in the world. That, in itself, creates a continuous tension in this film that leaves you bouncing on the edge of your seat. Add to that a villain that has taken over control of the air traffic tower at Dulles where planes are circling above due to inclement weather and you have a nightmare situation that makes the situation in the original Die Hard seem easy.

TV in 1991: War and Police Brutality

The two biggest subjects of television in 1991 centered around the worst police beating ever caught on video (yes, even to this day) and a conflict in the Middle East that turned televisions into 24-hour war journals. While war and police brutality dominated the air waves in 1991, they were not the only notable moments on TV. One of the most famous music videos in history debuted in ’91 as well as the shocking retirement of an athlete that helped change the way the world viewed HIV and AIDS.

1991’s Most Notable Moments (by date)

January 16, 1991America Goes to War

“Just 2 hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I speak.”

I will personally always remember Bush’s first two sentences. Twelve year-old me found the reality of war fascinating and terrifying at the same time. The coverage of the the Gulf War turned out to be historical, not to mention outstanding. Millions of viewers were stuck to their televisions, especially during the first night of battle when they watched Baghdad get hit with a bombing that looked like it came out of a Sega Genesis game. Just as important, CNN’s coverage of the event helped establish itself as one of the premier news channels, outdoing every major network in viewership.

*More about the Gulf War here if you’re interested

January 27 – The Greatest Performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” Ever?

Whitney Houston arguably stole the spotlight from the Super Bowl that day with her performance of America’s national anthem. She belted out the “Star Spangled Banner” in a way no one will ever duplicate, a remarkable display of vocals that warmed your heart. Not only the perfect introduction to a fantastic game, but a performance cemented into the debate for best ever.

This is the only double whammy: two unforgettable moments in one single event. Whitney came first, and then the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills battled hard in a game for the ages. You do not have to like or know football to understand how close it was. The score was 20-19, the Giants taking the Super Bowl on the biggest missed field goal in history. It was decided by one point in a game where neither team committed a turnover. Rarely are games decided at the last second. Far more rare is a championship game decided as time expires. This was one of those. The halftime show provided more to remember because there wasn’t one. At least, not a live one. Instead, those watching at home saw ABC cut to a special report on the Gulf War while New Kids on the Block performed to those in attendance.

March 3 – The Beating

The video created a stir both in the states and internationally for how brutal the beating of Rodney King was. A lot of misinformation has been spread about it, including why it occurred in the first place. While some believe it was completely random, it was not, although it does no excuse any of the officers. Truth is, King had evaded the police because he was under the influence, and wound up stopping near the Hansen Dam Recreation Center. People also assume only King was in the car. He had two passengers, one of whom was also beaten, just not as severely as King. What transpired continues to shock to this day. After reviewing the video, then Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates stated, “officers struck him with batons between fifty-three and fifty-six times.” Oh, he also got blasted in the chest with 50,000 volts from a stun gun. Watching the video told one story, his first press conference showed the aftermath. He sat in a wheelchair with a broken right leg, cuts and all over his badly swollen face, and a terrible burn mark on his chest from the stun gun. The incident helped fuel the L.A. Riots just over a year later.

Read more about Rodney King and the L.A. Riots here

August 11 – The Beginning of an Influence

This was the best version I could fine online from Daily Motion. It is the full first episode that debuted on Nickelodeon on August 11, 1991 after Doug and Rugrats.

The Simpsons revolutionized animated television, for both adults and children. That is impossible to argue. Ren & Stimpy, however, paved the way for the edgier, more mature adult cartoons that is often affiliated with Adult Swim. In short, without Ren & Stimpy there would be no Beavis & Butthead, South Park, Rick and Morty, etc. The show centered around an angry chihuahua named Ren and his pea-brained cat best friend, Stimpy. Where other cartoons were family-friendly, Ren & Stimpy derived many of its laughs from bathroom humor and incredibly detailed artwork that made it grotesque yet fascinating. If you have never watched it, I promise it is worth your time if only to see how it impacted so many other cartoons that came afterwards. Simply for its influence, it deserves a spot here.

September 29 – Welcome to Grunge

Something about that starting guitar riff pulled us in immediately. What was this? It sounded like rock, except rawer and grittier. And who were these guys? The young men playing inside the dimly lit, grimy high school gym appeared apathetic and had hair so shaggy you could barely see their eyes. Their guitars were loud, real loud, but in a good way. Aside from the grim visual tone of the video, the cheerleaders stood out with their tattoos and odd dance routines. There is a violent end that is oddly satisfying amid its destructiveness. As noteworthy as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is, its distinction is that it was the start of an inspiring yet tragic rock and roll story. It is a must watch music video and always in the discussion for greatest ever for its impact.

October 26 – Kirby Puckett’s Classic Hit

Legendary sportscaster Vin Scully calls Kirby Puckett’s unforgettable home run

The Fall Classic had already been a classic. The 7-game series between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins was an evenly matched championship series made memorable by the fact that 5 games were decided by one run. Game 6 is where the biggest moment of the series occurred. With the game tied at 3 runs apiece, the tension was dense in Minnesota in the bottom of the eleventh. Puckett stepped to the plate and, with the count at two balls and a strike, he launched a shot to tie up the series and send it to a winner-take-all game 7. Minnesota would go on to win the final game by a score of 1-0.

November 7 – The Announcement

Magic Johnson. One of the biggest sports stars of our time announces an early retirement because he contracted the HIV virus. This one hit me hard. My favorite player on the planet would no longer be dishing dazzling passes on the court. The worst part was the grim reality that Magic Johnson would soon die. That, regardless of its shocking nature, is what everyone thought at the time. The negative stigma around HIV at the time came from its hostility toward homosexuals as they were believed to be the only group that could contract the virus. Magic Johnson’s unfortunate tragedy helped bring a new awareness to HIV and AIDS that would have never happened if it weren’t for that November 14, 1991 announcement to the world.

Read more about Magic Johnson’s famous announcement here

November 14 – It Doesn’t Matter If You’re Black or White

To give you perspective on the extent of Michael Jackson’s popularity in 1991, the “Black or White” music video debuted that evening to 500 million viewers. A music video. 500 million people. Whether people liked it or not, it delivered ratings and everything else. From the most popular kid star at the time in Macaulay Culkin to a mind-blowing morphing technique that no one would shut up about afterwards, “Black or White” became the number one worldwide single of 1992. Taking you from Africa to the Statue of Liberty, it could be seen as an around-the-world short movie, doing its best to show as many cultures as possible. The video brought controversy as well with the ending of Jackson vandalizing a car and grabbing his crotch did not sit well with everyone.

The 1990s vs 2020

Tidbits from the Tribeca 'Goodfellas' Reunion | DAVID NICKSAY

Imagine walking out of a movie theater after seeing Goodfellas and already declaring it one of the greatest mafia films in history. You spend your time listening to People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm on your headphones while walking home from school. There was that night you watched the Arsenio Hall Show and were blown away by the voice of a singer named Mariah Carey singing, “Vision of Love” in her first live television performance. Memories were evoked by countless hours spent on a Game Boy or Sega Genesis. Your weeknight evenings were filled with iconic sitcoms like Married…with Children or The Cosby Show. The year was 1990 and this was life.

File:People waring face masks in Mexico-27April2009.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

If anyone had told me that the world would be shut down thirty years later due to a virus, I would have said you were full of it. Same goes for being able to sit in my living room and watch any movie I’d like without with the click of a button. No ticket to buy, no store to rent from, and no waiting in line. For someone who blew out a boom box or two for blasting it too high, who’d have thunk that we’d be listening to most of our music from a handheld phone in the future? In addition, you could have never convinced me that people’s social lives will be controlled by computers. The year is now 2020 and this is life.

Twenty-five years ago today, Magic Johnson announced he had HIV

Toward the end of 1991, with my twelfth birthday on the horizon, I adored sports, specifically basketball. My favorite player, like many other kids at the time, was Magic Johnson. A week before my birthday, he startled the world when he announced he had tested HIV-positive. The announcement was historical due to the fact that the subject was not only taboo, but HIV and AIDS had the stigma that it only affected gay men. Magic’s announcement completely changed that attitude. Without Magic Johnson, that stigma may still exist today. Another crucial note: In those days, testing HIV-positive was considered a death sentence. Everyone thought Magic would die within a few years. 29 years after he contracted that deadly virus, Magic is as healthy as ever.

Sanidad no cuenta los casos de Covid-19 confirmados después del  fallecimiento | Salud

As deadly as contracting HIV was then, a new, far more frightening virus has held the world hostage in 2020. Where HIV was contracted through sexual intercourse or blood transmission, this potentially fatal flu strain could be acquired simply by talking to someone. Even more concerning is it spreads like wildfire. People are dying in record numbers. Some get it and merely experience strong flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, too many others get it, suffer horribly, and die. They die because they have preexisting conditions. They die because they are old or weak. They die because they are young and it wrecked their immune system. They die because the virus is unbiased and there has been no vaccine. It has been nine months of this horror show and finally vaccines started getting distributed to hospitals a couple of weeks ago.

Guns N' Roses 1993 concert: 'It was blast-furnace heat'...and then it got  worse
This is an actual photo of a 1993 Guns N’ Roses concert. 27 years later, concerts are not allowed and have not happened in more than 9 months.

If you were between the ages of 10-18 at any time during the ’90s, MTV was the channel. Since it was nearly all music videos then, it felt more like a visual Top 40 radio station. An artist was not on the map until they had a music video on MTV. Hip hop and grunge catapulted to the top of the charts, with MTV ushering in artists like Dr. Dre, Boyz II Men, and Nirvana. And the music itself could only be described as transcending. No decade had more chart-topping hits than the ’90s. Culturally, many songs had an incredible impact on the ’90s from “Nuthin But A G Thang” to “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” There were also the pop mega-hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “My Heart Will Go On,” two of the biggest singles in history. The artists were bigger than life whether they were from the early ’90s like Snoop Dogg or the later part of the decade like Britney Spears.

There have been no concerts for months. Signs like the above hang from too many businesses, many of which are unsure if they will ever open again. It is worse than that. When cases started to decrease, states, cities, and countries began “opening” back up again. Problem is, reopening happened too fast. Cases surged again in the late summer and early fall followed by an incredibly scary surge after Thanksgiving. People were ordered to stay home for safety reasons during Thanksgiving. Keep gatherings to no more than eight people; less if possible. People did not listen. What would follow would be worse than how it started. Covid-19 disrupts life; it fractures families; it is the closest thing to an apocalypse any of us have ever experienced.

Bill Clinton Plays his Saxophone on Arsenio Hall | The Intermediate Period

Memories are important. It is times like this that remind me most of the memories from my favorite decade. There was that time presidential nominee Bill Clinton played a saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show or watching the verdict of the O.J. Simpson Trial with 95 million other people (most watched television event of the decade, by the way). Seeing photos of teenagers in baggy clothes, flannel shirts, and oversize sports jerseys put a smile on my face. The East Coast/West Coast hip hop rivalry that spawned a phenomenal string of fantastic jams will never be forgotten. Whether it was Seinfeld or ER that you looked forward to or Brett Favre slinging passes on Sundays in Green Bay, TV felt like a great friend. Let us not forget the movies either. From the biggest hit of 1990 (Ghost), to the biggest hit of the decade in 1999 (Titanic), blockbusters enjoyed tremendous success. Not to mention, independent movies had a revolution, with Pulp Fiction and Blair Witch Project, competing with Hollywood at the box office.

File:Covid-19-curves-graphic-social-v3.gif - Wikimedia Commons

Flatten the curve, as stated in the above image, is Covid terminology the experts have used for the last year. By washing our hands frequently, social distancing, and staying home, we can “flatten the curve.” The problem is not everybody is buying into this. Scientists, doctors, and a plethora of others experts can not convince them. As mentioned before, a vaccine has finally arrived. It is not the be all, end all of Covid-19. First, those most in need get the vaccine. It will be months before the general public has access to it. In the meantime, all we can do is follow guidelines and hope for the best. If we don’t, well, here is where we currently stand with Covid-19: More than 2,000 people are dying every day in America and roughly 6,000 people worldwide. Here is hoping 2021 starts a turnaround for this disaster.

Clifford PTO Fall Auction–I Love the 90s! |

Not all of the ’90s were fun. The deaths of artists Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Selena, and Biggie Smalls were a smack in the face considering they were all in their twenties. There were the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, the impeachment of a president by the House (followed by his reinstatement by the Senate), and the death of the world’s beloved Princess Diana. Despite that, the entire decade reeked of an independent spirit beaming with unbridled creativity. One remarkable fact stands out to me today: Not one major worldwide epidemic began in the ’90s. The ’70s and ’80s had them. So did the 2000’s, 2010’s, and now, the 2020’s. Not the ’90s. Go figure.

Anyone else miss the ’90s?

1999 – A Return of the King


It makes sense that the final year of the 90s would mark the return of perhaps the most successful and popular franchise in the history of film: Star Wars. In this instance, the franchise went backwards in its narrative by doing three prequels to the original Star Wars films. The hype for the new films lasted for years and in 1999, with the release of Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the franchise returned with a roar. I personally remember going to an evening showing in Westwood Village where the line to get in stretched around two blocks. Riddled with criticism from die-hard fans, Phantom Menace was still far and away the number one movie of ’99, taking in more than $924 million worldwide.


Phantom Menace  may have been the top movie of ’99, but there were quite a few more that reaped in buckets of dough at the box office. In second place that year was  M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense, a film still known for one of the best twist endings ever as well as the classic movie quote, “I see dead people.” It didn’t do too shabby at the box office with more than $672 million worldwide. One of the better sequels in film history took third place as Toy Story 2 pulled in more than $485 million. Keanu Reeves’ and The Matrix wound up in fourth place with more than $463 million while Disney’s animated feature, Tarzan, ended up in fifth place with a little more than $448 million. Rounding out the top ten were The Mummy ($416 million), Notting Hill ($364 million), The World is Not Enough ($362 million), American Beauty ($356 million), and the independent found-footage horror hit, The Blair Witch Project ($312 million). Speaking of which, Blair Witch, made for a measly $60,000, remains one of the most profitable films of all time.


1999 was a heck of a year for music too. There was a bevy of hit singles that year, perhaps none bigger than than “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin. Selling more than 8 million copies, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” remains Martin’s biggest hit to this day. As successful as that was, Christina Aguilera’s breakout hit, “Genie in a Bottle” wound up selling more than 10 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest single of the year in retrospect. Other big singles of ’99 were “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, “No Scrubs” by TLC, and “Heartbreak Hotel” by Whitney Houston, Faith Evans, and Kelly Price. Truth is, I wish I could find some sales figures on “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas because it was one of the most popular songs of the entire decade. Based on the information I’ve researched, it did not have the sales that the aforementioned singles had, but I find that hard to believe, something I’ll point out in the next paragraph.


If albums are any measure of success, ’99 was one of the most successful years not only of the decade, but in history. The top album of ’99 was Santana’s “Supernatural, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time. This is why I find it hard to believe that the hit single “Smooth” wasn’t one of the biggest singles of ’99. The big time albums don’t stop there, however. While “Hit Me Baby One More Time” was released in ’98, Britney Spears’ album …Baby One More Time was released in ’99 and would go on to sell more than 25 million albums. In third place, Backstreet Boys’ third album Millennium was more than just popular as it wound up selling more than 24 million albums. Another big one was Ricky Martin’s Ricky Martin, selling more than 15 million copies while TLC’s FanMail didn’t do too shabby with over 10 million albums sold. The five albums above cumulatively sold at least 104 million albums. In short, ’99 was a fantastic year for albums.


As for debut albums, it gets a bit tricky because ’99 is a rather weak year for debuts unless we include some with technicalities added. The biggest example of this would be Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, which would easily be the biggest debut except he released the Slim Shady EP in ’97 and his first studio album in ’96 called Infinite. Therefore, I’m leaving Eminem out of this. Obviously the biggest debuts of the year came from female pop stars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, whose self-titled debut Christina Aguilera went on to sell more than 14 million copies worldwide. Other than that, however, ’99 was not notable for debut albums. Some noteworthy debuts, at least in my opinion were from Mos Def, Ja Rule, Jessica Simpson, Lil Wayne, and Dido.


In the TV world, a new show immediately took over the top of the Nielsen ratings, taking the reins from such heavyweights as ERFriends, and Frasier. That show was none other than Who Wants to be a Millionaire, a game show hosted by Regis Philbin where contestants have to answer increasingly difficult questions to win one million dollars. Almost 20 years later, that show continues chugging. It aired three times a week and all three nights placed one, two, and three on the Nielsen ratings. The show had everyone hooked and on the edge of their seats hoping to witness someone make it all the way to the $1 million dollar question. The first show aired August 16, 1999, but it took until November 19 until someone would win the million dollars.


’99 had a great number of debut shows that wound up being staples in American pop culture. For starters, the mafia show The Sopranos would debut on HBO and go on for six seasons. Often in the discussion for best television drama series of all time, The Sopranos was the first cabe TV series ever to be nominated for (and win)an Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. It also won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series every single time it was nominated. Impressive to say the least. Three other iconic shows debuted in ’99, shows that I have to mention or it’d be a travesty. One of those, Spongebob Squarepants, is a kid’s show but one of the most popular ones of the last few decades. On top of that, both Family Guy and Futurama debuted, both adult cartoons that would amass legions of fans and remain relevant today. Other notable debuts of ’99 were The West Wing, Judging Amy, Judge Mathis, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which was renewed for its 20th season in May.


As you know, with all of those debuts comes a lot of endings, and ’99 had some big goodbyes. The biggest of all would be Home Improvement, which had the 12th most-watched series finale of all time. Other big finales were the Paul Reiser-led Mad About You, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Nanny, and Melrose Place. While they may not have had the big series finales of the aforementioned shows, other popular shows that would finish their run were Sister, Sister, The Wayans Bros., Unhappily Ever After, The Parent Hood, The Sentinel, and Mystery Science Theater 3000.


In sadder news, the celebrity world lost some big names in ’99, starting with Roger Ebert’s film critic counterpart, Gene Siskel. While he probably was never as big as Ebert, Siskel was a fantastic movie critic and the show was never quite the same without him. It was only a few weeks later that renown director Stanley Kubrick passed away, making Eyes Wide Shut (also released in ’99) his final film. In addition, Mario Puzo passed and if it weren’t for him, we would have never been blessed with The Godfather. The sports world lost a legend in bigger-than-life Wilt Chamberlain, still regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. The music industry had significant losses with legendary crooner Mel Torme passing at 73 and Dusty Springfield dying at a young 56. Country legend Hank Snow died after a career that sold more than 80 million albums over six decades. Perhaps the biggest death happened at the end of the year with Curtis Mayfield dying at the age of 57 a day after Christmas. Not only was he a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with The Impressions in ’91, and as a solo artist in ’99), Mayfield’s Shaft soundtrack remains arguably one of the greatest alums in the history of music.


In a year where a kid could “see dead people” and Keanu Reeves tried to figure out the Matrix, there was also the tiny indie film Blair Witch Project that took on Hollywood and won. One could say that ’99 was the year of kings with Phantom Menace atop the box office and the debut of The Sopranos which would rule the TV for the first few years of the millennium. It was also quite a big year for albums as 3 of the top ten biggest albums of the decade were released in ’99 (Human Clay, Supernatural, and Millennium). While it’s not from the same decade, it’s only necessary to use the classic Mel Brooks’ quote to sum of the year: “It’s good to be the king.”




Bart Gets an “F” – (1990)


This episode of The Simpsons was the first episode of season two. It also was the first time the show went up against The Cosby Show’s time slot and took a decent chunk of the audience. Obviously, there are many more iconic episodes and moments from The Simpsons but this one may be the first one that cemented the show’s widespread popularity. Regardless, it’s a funny episode and this little clip from it is worth a watch.

…Baby One More Time – Britney Spears (1998)



Written by: Martin Karl Sandberg

Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know
That something wasn’t right here
Oh baby, baby, I shouldn’t have let you go
And now you’re out of sight, yeah
Show me how want it to be
Tell me baby ’cause I need to know now, oh because
My loneliness is killing me (and I)
I must confess I still believe (still believe)
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time
Oh baby, baby
The reason I breathe is you
Boy you got me blinded
Oh pretty baby
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
It’s not the way I planned it
Show me how you want it to be
Tell me baby ’cause I need to know now, oh because
My loneliness is killing me (and I)
I must confess I still believe (still believe)
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby
Oh baby, baby how was I supposed to know
Oh pretty baby, I shouldn’t have let you go
I must confess, that my loneliness is killing me now
Don’t you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time
My loneliness is killing me (and I)
I must confess I still believe (still believe)
When I’m not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time
I must confess, that my loneliness is killing me now
Don’t you know I still believe
That you will be here
And give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

1998 – Hit me baby one more time


There are arguments out there that 1998 is one of the best years in music, and certainly the best year in music of the 90s. While I’m not sure I agree with either of those theories, it was certainly a significant year in music, a year in which music had more impact on American pop culture than both film and TV. Two of the biggest singles of all time were released in ’98 and while one outsold the other, it was Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” that truly rocked the American pop culture boat the most. The song was the perfect bubblegum pop tune: catchy, uptempo, and fun. More than that, it had Spears singing it. She became an instant heartthrob to just about every teenage boy (and adult man) around the nation (and world). Was Spears a great singer? No, but she was a great entertainer and the biggest name in 1998 American pop culture.


What’s interesting is that “…Baby One More Time” was considered the biggest single of 1998 although Cher’s ’98 single, “Believe” would eventually go on to sell 11 million units to Spears’ 10 million. Obviously, it was another big year for female artists. Adding to the success of female artists of that year, one has to point out Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn,” which was considered the most played song of the year and one of the biggest one-hit wonders of all time. Funny thing about “Torn” is that Imbruglia’s version is actually a cover of the original, written in 1993 by an alternative rock band out of Los Angeles called Ednaswap. Since we’re on the subject of female artists, it would be wrong to leave out Alanis Morissette and her hit single “Uninvited.” Made for the City of Angels soundtrack, “Uninvited” would go on to sell more than 8 million units.


Speaking of City of Angels, it had not one, not two, but three hit singles. In addition to “Uninvited,” the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” was one of the biggest singles of the year.  “Iris” was listed at #1 for Billboard’s Top 100 Pop Songs 1992-2002. It’s a good song but I don’t know if it’s that good. The third hit single from the City of Angels soundtrack was “Angel” from Sarah McLachlan although the song was originally written for her album Surfacing. As beautiful of a song as it is, the subject matter is incredibly dark being that it is about the heroin overdose of Smashing Pumpkins touring keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin.


There’s more. 1998 saw the rise of quite a few music stars. One was Jay-Z who released Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life, which catapulted the rapper to superstar status. On the contrary, his current wife Beyonce would be part of Destiny’s Child’s huge debut album, Destiny’s Child. In hip hop, Lauryn Hill used her fame from The Fugees to go off on her own with much success. Her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a huge hit and is still considered one of the best hip hop albums of all time to this day. In addition to Destiny’s Child and Lauryn Hill, there was a significant amount of new artists that debuted in ’98. N’Sync, DMX, Jurassic 5, Death Cab for Cutie, Mya, System of a Down were some of the debuts to name a few.


The movie world saw another major Steven Spielberg hit with his World World 2 epic, Saving Private Ryan. It was the second biggest movie of the year at the box office, earning almost $482 million worldwide. The biggest film of the year belonged to the Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck sci-fi disaster film, Armageddon, which pulled in more than $553 million internationally. The third biggest film of the year was the Godzilla reboot starring Matthew Broderick with $379 million worldwide. Strangely, as much money as it made, the ’98 version of Godzilla was not considered a success by the studio, the main reason there was no sequel. In fourth place with $369 million was the raunchy Farrelly Brothers comedy There’s Something About Mary starring Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz. Rounding out the top five at the box office for ’98 was A Bug’s Life, Pixar’s second feature length animated film. Many people think their second film was Toy Story 2 but it was A Bug’s Life which earned more than $363 million worldwide.


There were quite a few notable deaths in the film world in ’98. One of the most influential and greatest directors of all time, Akira Kurosawa, passed away at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy that included such films as Seven Samurai and Rashomon among many others. Other big stars that passed in ’98 were Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry, and Roy Rogers. The most shocking death of the year was that of Phil Hartman, a comedic actor and former SNL cast member who was murdered by his wife who then killed herself. He was widely loved by all those that knew him and is even recognized as the person who helped Paul Reubens develop the character of Pee Wee Herman and even co-wrote the film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. He was only 49 when he was killed.


*Phil Hartman and his wife, Brynn who murdered him before killing herself

In television, ERFriendsVeronica’s Closet, and Seinfeld were at the top of the Nielsen ratings although it would be the final hurrah for Seinfeld. After nine wildly successful seasons, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, and Michael Richards would finally call it quits. The show often ended television seasons in the number one or two spot atop the Nielsen ratings, usually going against the hit TV drama ER. Its 75-minute finale on May 14, 1998 is one of the most watched TV finales of all-time with more than 76 million viewers tuning in to say goodbye to one of the most successful sitcoms ever. Only the finales for M.A.S.H.Roots, Cheers, and The Fugitive had more viewers.


Other hit shows would say goodbye in ’98 as well. Living Single, a sitcom based on 4 black single women starring Queen Latifah ended its 5-year run. Other popular sitcoms that ended in ’98 were Grace Under FireThe Naked TruthEllen, Murphy Brown, Family Matters, and The Larry Sanders Show. For TV dramas, it would be the end of six seasons for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and after four seasons New York Undercover was finished. It’s necessary to note that New York Undercover was the first police drama to feature two people of color as its stars (Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo). ’98 was really the year that many kids’ shows would end. Among them, Beakman’s World, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, Goosebumps, and Bobby’s World.


Whereas many shows ended, many others were just starting in ’98. Arguably the most popular show to debut was the HBO mega-hit Sex and the City, starring Sarah Jessica-Parker. A few big network sitcoms hit the tubes in ’98 with the arrival of such shows as The King of Queens, Will and GraceThe Hughleys, Becker, and That 70’s Show. TV dramas saw the debuts of Charmed, Felicity, and Dawson’s Creek but it was kid’s programming that saw a big influx of new shows. Teletubbies would begin its run in the U.S. after its huge success in its native Australia. In addition, The Powerpuff Girls began its 6-season run on the Cartoon Network.


In the toys and video game industries, Furby dolls were a huge craze. The furry, owl-like creatures were one of those toys that parents fought over in stores during the holiday season. It got to a point where people were buying them and then reselling them for five times the price on the black market. ’98 was also a special year for video games as iconic games such as Starcraft, Half-Life, and Metal Gear Solid. There was also another wildly popular Legend of Zelda game for Nintendo with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. As games and consoles continued to increase in sales, the video game industry kept growing and growing.


So what was 1998 in American pop culture exactly? Was it all about the music or all about the movies? Hard to say, but I would personally put my money on music being the more impactful industry of the two in ’98. While Armageddon and Saving Private Ryan were certainly big hits at the box office, they didn’t put their stamp on the year like music did. As stated in the first paragraph, there have been very few breakout pop stars like Britney Spears. While she didn’t wind up becoming the star that Mariah Carey or Madonna became, she was still the biggest name of the year. For that, I think Britney deserves recognition for just how much of a thing she was in ’98.



The Big Event: 1998 – Mark McGwire Hits #62

72528211.jpgThis isn’t a TV moment in the general sense because it’s not a scene from a ’90s sitcom or drama. That being said, Mark McGwire’s 62nd home run during the 1998 home run season is one of the most iconic sports moments of the 90s since it broke Roger Maris’ 37-year-old single-season home run record of 61. It also had more significance in that McGwire’s monster home run season brought fans back into baseball’s fold. The sport had lost a lot of viewers and McGwire (and Sammy Sosa) helped bring back old fans while attracting a new generation of fans as well. McGwire would go on to hit 70 home runs that year, a single-season record until Barry Bonds broke it a few years later by hitting 73 homers.

Below is arguably the biggest moment in baseball during the 90s.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Without Anthony Hopkins’ role in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter would have never become the household name he is today. Hopkins would go on to win Best Actor for his portrayal of Lecter which remains one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema.

Below is just one of the many great scenes between Hopkins and Jodie Foster (who also won Best Actress for her role as FBI trainee Clarice Starling).

1997 – Simply Titanic


You had to live during the years before Titanic was released to understand all the hype and hoopla surrounding it. For one, the budget was gargantuan. To add to that, there were tons of issues that occurred during the filming of the movie that made it feel like it was set up to be a monumental disaster. More than 50 crew members were rushed to the hospital after their lobster chowder was laced with PCP. They never discovered who poisoned the food. Three stuntmen wound up with broken bones and star Kate Winslet chipped a bone in her elbow in addition to the fact that she, and the crew, feared the temperamental director James Cameron. The shoot was originally intended for 138 days but wound up taking 160 days. By the end of it, the budget had reached an unheard of $200 million (which, equates to about $1 million per minute of screen time).


As its release got closer, many wondered if it was going to be a repeat of Waterworld, another film with a gigantic budget that didn’t succeed. However, Titanic turned into an absolute hit. It was the first film ever to cross the $1 billion mark at the box office. Not only that, it went on to win a handful of Academy Awards (a record-tying eleven to be exact) including Best Picture and Best Director. That’s not all. The hit song, “My Heart Will Go On” was one of the biggest hits of the 90s, sung by pop superstar Celine Dion. It was, in every way, shape, and form, a huge success and remains one of the most successful movies of all time.


While Titanic ran away with the box office in ’97, it was a hell of a year for film. To put Titanic’s numbers in perspective, it took in more than $1.8 billion, whereas the next biggest film of the year, The Lost World: Jurassic Park took in a staggering $618 million. In third place, Men in Black also had a phenomenal take in with $589 million. Even with the heavy drop off after third place, the James Bond installment Tomorrow Never Dies still brought in $333 million. In fact, the next three biggest films of the year all took in more than $300 million as Air Force One, As Good as It Gets, and Liar Liar all more than surpassed expectations. Rounding out the top ten at the box office for ’97 were My Best Friend’s Wedding, Fifth Element, and The Full Monty, all of which made more than $250 million worldwide.


1997 in music was unique in that two of the biggest singles were tributes to people who died far too young. The first, a remake of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind,” was written in honor of Princess Diana, who died in a tragic car crash in August of ’97 after being pursued by paparazzi. The other, “I’ll be Missing You,” was a tribute by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans, and 112 to Notorious B.I.G. who was murdered in March of 1997. While the hip hop ode to Notorious found great success with more than eight million singles sold, it pales in comparison to the success of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” redo. In fact, “Candle in the Wind” remains the second best-selling single of all time with more than 33 million copies sold. The original song was written in honor of Marilyn Monroe but the sudden death of his longtime friend Diana Francis Spencer prompted John to do another version in her honor. Out of respect to her, Elton John has only performed the song live once, at Princess Di’s funeral.


*Elton John and the late Princess Di

Hugely successful singles don’t stop with those two. 1997 had another giant hit with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie Titanic. Just like “Candle in the Wind,” Dion’s biggest hit remains one of the most successful singles of all time, selling more than 18 million copies. 1997 is actually the only year in history that has two of the top ten best-selling singles of all time. Adding to the list of big time singles from ’97 were Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” and Janet Jackson’s “Together Again.” Although Jackson was a far bigger name than Aqua, “Barbie Girl” remains the more successful single with more than eight million copies sold compared to over six million for “Together Again.” To put this all in perspective, the top 5 singles of 1997 have cumulatively sold more than 73 million singles worldwide. That is insane.


Quite a few iconic albums were released in 1997, among them Prodigy’s “Fat of the Land” and Radiohead’s “OK Computer.” In hip hop, Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous album “Life After Death” was a big hit, not only because he was one of the biggest names in the genre but also because the album was released only two weeks after his murder. It went on to sell more than five million copies. Wu-Tang Clan’s second album, “Wu-Tang Forever” was another successful hip hop record from ’97, selling more than four million copies. Other notable rap albums of ’97 were Missy Elliot’s “Supa Dupa Fly” and Will Smith’s first solo album after five albums as the group DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. “Big Willie Style” would wind up as the most successful rap album of ’97, going on to sell more than nine million copies.


In terms of successful albums of the 90s, one of the biggest of the decade belonged to Shania Twain’s 1997 album “Come on Over.” It has made its mark on the all-time best-selling albums list, in twelfth place with more than 33 million copies sold. A fun tidbit here about that as well: with Twain’s “Come on Over,” 1997 was the third straight year in which a female music artist had the biggest album of the year (1995 was Alanis Morissette with “Jagged Little Pill”; 1996 was Celine Dion with  “Falling into You”). What’s also amazing is that Celine Dion had another giant album in ’97 with “Let’s Talk About Love,” which contained the hit single, “My Heart Will Go On” from Titanic. Put together, Dion’s two albums from ’96 and ’97 would go on to sell more than 64 million copies. Wow.


In television, ER and Seinfeld once again would fight each other for top of the Nielsen ratings for the third straight year, with Seinfeld edging it out by a couple of points. As for other shows ranked at the top of the Nielsen ratings, it was mostly the usual suspects again as Home Improvement, Frasier, NYPD Blue, X-Files, The Drew Carey Show, and 60 Minutes kept their places in the top 20 of the ratings. A couple of new shows including Veronica’s Closet and Just Shoot Me! found themselves at the top of the ratings as well although Kirstie Alley’s Veronica’s Closet would only go on for three seasons compared to seven seasons for Laura San Giacomo’s Just Shoot Me!


Speaking of debuts, ’97 was a unique year in that two animated adult shows started that would help pave the way for more adult animation in the years to come. One of them, King of the Hill, was the second show created by Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge. It was a big hit for Fox and would go on for 13 seasons before going into nightly syndication in 2010. The other show is arguably the most influential adult cartoon series in history. South Park debuted on August 13, 1997 on Comedy Central and 21 seasons later, it is still going strong. The controversial cartoon known for its brash language and subject matter turned creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker into big time Hollywood players.


Aside from those two iconic debuts, ’97 had many more great debuts. Buffy the Vampire Slayer would begin its seven-season run amassing a large fan base that remains strong today. My personal favorite debut of ’97 was Crocodile Hunter, the second-longest series for Discovery behind Mythbusters. Perhaps it would have been the longest-running series for them had it not been for the tragic and untimely death of host Steve Irwin. I still haven’t gotten over that myself. Another notable debut of ’97 were Daria, Mike Judge’s second animated adult show for MTV (the first being Beavis and Butthead). Other popular shows to debut that year were The View, Ally McBeal, Caillou, Dharma and Greg, and the cult classic HBO show Tenacious D.


As it is with debuts, there were many shows  ending in ’97 that fans would be sad to see leave. One of those was Angela Lansbury and Murder, She Wrote. Another big show that had its finale was Roseanne, which wound up being one of the most-watched TV finales in history. Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell would call it quits on Martin after five seasons while audiences would finally say goodbye to Craig T. Nelson and Coach after nine seasons. Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher finished the last season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman after four seasons while the Bundys finished their eleven seasons of Married…With Children (which brought a tear to my eye as it’s my favorite show of all time). And finally, after 26 years on the air, Hee Haw would say goodbye to its legion of fans.


1997 for some would be remembered for the death of Biggie Smalls, but Titanic easily took charge of the year both at the box office and in the world of music with Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will go On” as well as James Horner’s soundtrack being one of the biggest albums of the year as well. There are many who don’t like Titanic as a movie but it is impossible to argue against the fact that it was the biggest moment of the year as well as one of the most successful films of all time. I guess it’s true what lead character Jack Dawson says on the boat when he declares, “I’m the king of the world!”