Bart Gets an “F” – (1990)

3335456-ep1.jpg

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.

Advertisements

…Baby One More Time – Britney Spears (1998)

maxresdefault.jpg

 

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
Yeah,
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

1998.jpg

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.

giphy.gif

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.

source.gif

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.

R-45415-1139696834.jpeg.jpg

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.

giphy.gif

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.

giphy-1.gif

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.jpg

*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.

1_2_OrQzxPPhxkZoyIIeApaA.jpg

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.

56d928e48ea308c603d75ac4e79976d3_1024x1024.jpg

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.

SexandtheCity_S1_314237900_PMRS7-SN._V343834798_RI_SX940_.jpg

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.

furby2012.jpg

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.

britneyspears-...babyonemoretime(7).jpg

 

Mark McGwire Hits #62 (1998)

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)

0_nzaUfBFMw7AgMDja.jpg

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

titanic.jpg

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).

cameron_a.jpg

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.

24ddba6a48c0692fbb43345ed83c54be.jpg

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.

lostworld.jpg

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-Instagram.png

*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.

barbie.gif

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.

biggie-smalls-life-after-death-1490371556-compressed.jpg

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.

R-905386-1377891592-6628.jpeg.jpg

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!

just-shoot-me-4ed53e9aa4671.png

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.

1-12.gif

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.

buffyseason1.jpg

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.

tcdmawi_ec029_h.jpg

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!”

SecondhandShadowyFirebelliedtoad-size_restricted.gif

 

Toys of the 90s – Beanie Babies

95292f002d95b3a8c100bd4193a87c7d.jpg

A bit like the fidget spinner craze of modern times, Beanie Babies were all the rage in the mid-90s up until 1999. Filled with plastic pellets instead of stuffing like most stuffed animals, Beanie Babies skyrocketed in popularity in 1995 when seemingly everyone wanted one.

The original nine Beanie Babies released were: Legs the Frog, Squealer the Pig, Spot the Dog, Flash the Orca, Splash the Whale, Chocolate the Moose, Patti the Platypus, Brownie the Bear (renamed “Cubbie” later on) and Pinchers the Lobster. While these were the original nine, they’re nowhere near the most expensive. Special edition Beanie Babies have gone on to fetch thousands of dollars. The most expensive one called “Princess,” sells for more than $500,000. Yeah, that’s not a typo.

By the time all was said and done, Beanie Babies were the reason Ty Inc., the company that made them, reached a $1 billion valuation in the late 90s. By the new millennium however, the Beanie Babies fad had ended. Regardless, anyone who grew up in the 90s remembers these and you can still get them to this day although they’re not nearly as sought out as they once were.

While I could not find an actual Beanie Babies commercial from Ty Inc., there is this 1997 McDonald’s commercial for Beanie Babies that were included in their Happy Meals. Enjoy!