The Very Early 90's (1990-92/ January of '93) In Review
When I talk to my friends about the early 90s, they all say the same things. They either go on and on about the mid 90's (1993-1996) or the late 90's (1996-1999). Everyone can name something from the very early 90's, but their memories of it are vague. Recently, I had a friend argue that 1993 was an early 90's year. For that reason alone, I think of the "Bush 90s (1989-1992) as "the very early 90s". Some people also bicker about how 1989 was the last year of the Eighties. Literally that is true, but '89 was the start to big things. The Bush era was worlds apart from the Clinton era. Let's observe:
The Bush Years (1989-1992)
The Clinton Years (1993-2001)
The very early 90's (and 1989) were all about getting to the .com age (1993-NOW). 1990 was a year with dual roles.At the start of '90, lots of people were full with anticipation for what was to come. People around me were waiting for the very definition of the 1990's. The Simpsons were very popular that year because they were deemed "the family of the 90's." They were the first "new" family of 1990. Then, people saw the 1989
copyright date on the Bart Simpson shirts. This lead to the conclusion that the Simpsons were, at most, a "late 80's early 90's thing". That is when the disappointment started to kick in.
In the summer of 1990, most people realized just how much pop culture came out of the 1980's. Some people did not pay attention to the 80's while they were in them. Adults in the 1980's were hard at work from sunup to sundown. People did not give up the anticipation for the 1990's yet. They just waited for the 1990 fall tv schedule. They were right to do that. 1990's fall season brought about a brand new era. Some of pop culture of this time would seep into the Clinton era. Let's look at every part of these times. Fall of 1990 The Music
The latter part of 1990 was when 1990 started to shape up. By the fall of '90, the earliest part began looking really old. The very early 90's were confusing times. With that said, the last part to 1990 was awkward.
You can look at the Billboard charts of the time and see that. It was a lot easier to access the sound of this time back then. You had not only Friday Night Videos, but also Saturday Morning Videos. MTV was a powerhouse too. Hair metal was starting to evolve with the times. Females wore their hair like Winnie Cooper more. Naturally, the front men to hair metal groups were straightening their hair too. American heavy metal music was very strong in the fall of '90. Cowboys from Hell
. Spiritual Healing
. RUST IN PEACE
. Surprisingly, there were a lot of family friendly rap albums to that day and age. Red-blooded women loved to look at guys do the running man dance to Ice Ice Baby in the clubs. The very early 90's were the last time that catchy gimmicky music was made for the masses. So, there was a lot of that here. Wilson Philips and Mariah Carey put out a lot of music that the ladies could enjoy on a Saturday afternoon. Fast dance music took the mind away from the hardships of the world for "everybody, everybody". TV and Toys
1990, as a whole, had everything that made the 80's work in it. The fall of '90 brought some amazing
advances in toy manufacturing to the world. WWF Wrestling buddies made bigger fans out of TV watchers. Wrestling buddies were pillow toys you could take your frustration out on. They are also cool because you could place them on the top of your shelf in almost any bedroom. 1990 was the year in the middle of it all. The selections of this year were half late 80's and half early 90's. The Simpsons figures did not sell very well for two reasons. One, the Bart Simpson shirts were far more popular. Two, by the fall of '90, children were really into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline. The turtles finally succeeded the Real Ghostbusters in this time. Modernism totally hit the TMNT toyline in November of '90. The turtles, their allies, and enemies began wearing neon clothing articles and using neon weapons. The new turtle stuff looked great on the shelves with toylines like Monsters in My Pocket, Matchbox Connectors, Bandai Tacky Stretchoid Warriors, Rat Fink Rad Rods, and Shadow Strikers (a toyline similar to M.A.S.K.). The real boom in collecting comic books and comic book collectibles began in the fall of '90. People of all ages were scrambling around to get their hands on Marvel Universe trading cards and super heroes in toy form.
The fall of 1990 had a somewhat memorable TV season. Cheers was the number one show in that timeframe. The 100th episode aired! There were a slew of new shows at that time. Some of them would go on to be 90's shows, and some of them were left in the very early 90s. I know of some people who only watch the pre-'93 episodes of In Living Color
. The shows getting instant fame in this time were The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
, Tiny Toons
, In Living Color
, Law and Order
, and Cop Rock
. Shows like Wake, Rattle and Roll
were normally what children watched though. Movies and Fashion
People were learning that Rocky could not cut it in the Bush world. Mike Tyson lost to Douglas in the earliest part of this year too. The media had their eyes on younger boxers in this time. The classics came from different genres in the early 90's. Movies like Goodfellas allowed us to sit in the hot seat with the protagonist, Henry Hill. Characters, born in the late 80's, were getting a lot tougher in late '90. Chucky, of Child's Play fame, slowly transitioned into the killer doll everyone knows. The second movie was one gigantic gorefest. Most parents were too busy noticing that the first two Godfather flicks were a large part of pop culture history, though. Edward Scissorhands was introduced as a more slicker modern form of pop cultural art. With this film alone, Johnny Depp proved truly that he could play mature roles with the same ease as the "Tom Hanson" type roles. Fashion in this portion of 1990 was not much different from that of late '88 to 1989. Gentlemen wore polka dot button down shirts. Anything Hugo Boss , Guess Jeans, Girbaud, or Z. Cavaricci were in style. People were starting to break away from the looks of the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's. In the 80's, you had most children, teenagers and parents wear their shirts tucked in. Metal-heads let their shirt tails hang out more freely. Most people today wear their shirts like that. Because the very early 90's were in the middle of it all, our shirts were half tucked in and out. Shirt clips became a fad among girls as an answer to this. The 8-ball jacket and hammer pants phenomenon erupted in the 90-91 cusp. Surfwear pants were worn by young men everywhere. 1991 The Music
1991 was turbulent year for anyone looking at it. In other words, it was a big kaleidoscope. You could see it as the ultimate H.W. Bush year, the ultimate early 90's year, the ultimate 80's year, or a time much closer to the 2000's. The music reflected it entirely. The R&B music from Guy, Hi-Five, Color Me Badd, The Rude Boys, and Jeffrey Osborne was very slow and soothing. Nirvana came to fame in this year also. People were not donning the flannel to it until 1994. Believe it or not, people of the early 90's liked Never-mind because it had a new sound to it. People wanted a new sound for the new decade. The early 90's were a mixed loot bag. There were even more gimmicky tunes in '91. Does Rico Suave ring a bell? Best of all, Amy Grant saved the pop charts with Baby, Baby
. 1991 had a plethora of sex songs to listen to. You could almost write a dictionary and there would be a song title for every letter. From "I Touch Myself
to Touch Me (All Night Long)
Older artists like Joe Walsh gave us the gift of surf music like Ordinary Average Guy
in '91. De La Soul showed the crowds that there was much more to them than "Me, Myself, and I
". Sadly, Metallica was "fading to black". TV and Toys
1991 made most people remember the very early 90's for what they were. The SNES versus Genesis battles began in this year. Gamers were in over their heads in this one year. Some NES owners were just getting their hands on a personal Gameboy. People's heads were full of so many wonders over the SNES. The SNES was the first ever sequel to the NES. Those without access to research articles did not see it coming at all. The NES owners were turning their heads to the Sega Genesis commercials before then. Then, Sonic the Hedgehog arrived on the scene. The action in it was fast, high and furious! Just playing the game at a Genesis kiosk gave you an idea of who Sonic was. The Super Soaker 50 was sold out out right around the time Sonic was new. The action figure aisles "went green" for most of the year. There was Swamp Thing, Toxie of the Toxic Crusaders, Captain Planet, the Eco-Warriors of G.I. Joe, the Hulk, and the turtles. Unfortunately, 1991 was the year my friend stopped collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There were so many variants in the line that it became difficult to "collect them all". He also did not like Tokka and Rhazar taking the place of Bebop and Rocksteady. He did not understand that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movieverse was more based on the Mirage comic book versions. Topps Desert Storm trading cards were being traded on most elementary school yards in the fall. Those card collectors also claimed that the Tiny Toons characters were way more fun in 1991. There were a bunch of TV & movie characters on the shelves next to the big league-rs. The Mattel MC Hammer doll proved what most of us knew. Mc Hammer was the big super star of those rat-tailed days. Young ladies were rollerblading everywhere. Street Fighter 2 was planted around the doors of many Pizza Huts at this time. While the boys aggressively played Nintendo, girls were applying stick-on earrings to their ears. Urkel became the nation's hero in "the age of the wimp (the HW Bush era) " like he was always meant to be. If you were in high school, it was totally cool to check out "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Blossom".
Movies and Fashion
There were many questions behind '91. The first question was, "How many times did you see Terminator 2 at the mall? The answer: As high can you count on your fingers and toes? Judgement Day had: a great soundtrack/ an angrier Sarah Connor/ very memorable villain in the T-1000/ no dated fashions in it/ liquid metal which doubles as a cool vending machine toy/ Arnold at his peak! How can I best summarize the other movies of '91? Let's see..."It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again". "Geez Louise. That wasn't very nice". "Everything I do...I do it for youu". Cliff Secord: "How do I look? Peevy Peabody: "Like a Hood Ornament". "Drop Dead, Fred." "Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood.""This was never about money for us, it was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. To those dead souls, inching along the freeway in their metal coffins, we show them that the human spirit is still alive." "You're scared. But that's Ok. I want you to savor that fear. The south was born in fear. Fear of the Indian, fear of the slave, fear of the damn Union." "Sit your five-dollar hips down before I make change.""Gaston, you are positively primeval." Now for the fashion part : Oakley shades, Vuarnet tees, HYPERCOLOR, Rusty Clothing, Guess Jeans, and Bugle Boy. '91 was the year of Zubaz. Young men had the Zubaz hat, Zubaz shirt, and Zubaz pants. Starter and Fila were the brands the Sneakerheads preferred. Tennis visors were worn by Ravers and females a lot in the summer of '91. The anti-crack movement was a big deal in the fall of '91. People around me wore lots of Keith Haring shirts. Young men and women were in their Parker Lewis phase for most of this year. 1992 The Music
Hmm...should I Check the Technique
or Check Your Head
? 1992 was the last time that both the winter and summer Olympics were held in the same year. Looking back, it seems like the last full year we were in the 20th century. The internet was around, but the computer was more-so for games and projects. The Soviet Union was done for, so the feeling of '92 was a great one. We were between where we are now and the Cold War times. 1992 was a very free year. The hit Everybody's Free
by Rozalla gives you a good idea of what it felt like to live in 1992. I am sorry for the ear worm I have unleashed upon you all. There were peace signs everywhere as a reaction to this new freedom. 1992 was closest year of the Bush era to the Clinton era. Some Clinton stuff made its first appearance in this year. There was never too big of a cultural shift in 1992. People sat on bean bag chairs but did not have bean bag toys to play with. Jump
by Kris Kross was the last gimmicky song of the very early 90's. Kris Kross were the last ones with an "image" on MTV. They would not stay around for long. They did deliver the most important slang term for the 90's in
1993. Everyone had heard of "da bomb" right? 1992 was a very VH-1 year. Song selections from K.D. Lang, Shakespeare's Sister, Annie Lennox, and Patty Smyth appealed to everyone regardless of age. Lionel Richie's last number-one hit was in 1992. Axl Rose dazzled us all with November Rain
when he was not on the news. Bobby Brown gave us music to work out to with Humpin' Around
. The Cure let us know that Friday was the day they were in love. 1992, in general, was the last year for over-produced music in the States. TV and Toys
1992...the year before the Power Rangers showed up and stayed in stores to this day. Sonic pulled away from being known as "that Super Mario Brothers rip-off" by befriending Tails. Fortunately, Sonic was one year away from becoming a Saturday morning cartoon (like Super Mario Bros. 3). He did not have a rival similar to him either (like Wario to Mario). Most guys were hovering around the Mortal Kombat arcade machine while Sonic 2 was out. R.L. Stein's Goosebumps books were new to libraries in 1992. '92 was a little different from the other years of the early 90's. There were more Sci-Fi collectibles in stores. Who exactly were the first series of Aliens action figures being marketed to? Children were not allowed to see any film in the Alien series. The Blurp balls, Creepy Crawlers re-issue set, Savage Mondo Blitzers, Monster Face, Gak, and Trash Bag Bunch were perfect enough for them. The real micro machines, Z-Bots, were stores for the first time in late '92. The green teens (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) brought the Shredder into the wild safari at the start of '92. Who knew a turtle named Raphael could be friends with King Lionheart? People were holding on to those trolls in hopes of being lucky enough to find out what Doctor Claw looked like underneath it all in the fall of 1992. Those Crystal Pepsi test tasters were snapping up every item with the colors red, white and blue on it. There were also a lot of Starting Line-up gift sets sold in the fall of '92. The Dream Team truly made 1992 a fantastic year. Goof Troop embodied just how cool 1992 was. That was one cartoon that really said Disney. Of course, MTV's House of Style was gaining popularity. The big events of '92 (L.A. Riots, Debates, and storms) stole the spotlight from the sudden recognition of Home Improvement, Seinfeld, and Northern Exposure. Movies and Fashion
1992 appears to be the last year of movies with memorable characters in them. Beethoven, the Newsies, Sister Mary Clarence, the Player, Genie, Wayne, Garth, Frank Slade, Dil (The Crying Game), Cousin Vinny, Coach Bombay, Tim Burton's Catwoman, and Jessep. There were so many femme fatales of 1992. Think of The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
, Basic instinct
, Single White Female
, and Mr. Blonde of the Reservoir Dogs
(oh wait). Home Alone 2 was the perfect sequel to the first one, in my eyes. 1992 was the last year to set up the Clinton years. It was the last year that had the spirit of the 1980's in. Girls were out to get Bongo jeans. Wrangler jeans were taking over from Levi 501's. Cross Colours were on every wall of the Merry Go Round stores. Darker colors like pine green were favored by mature audiences. '92 was the last year you saw anyone wearing California Raisins sweatshirts publicly. The College kids were starting to wear No Fear, Big Johnson, Stussy, Mossimo, Freshjive, Fuct, and Diesel stuff. "Grunge style", in this year, was a dirty purple shirt and a pair of long short pants. Early January of 1993 The Music
January 19th was the last day George Herbert Walker Bush was President. So, the full transition was completed by the time Clinton was in office. The music of 1993 was far more organic than that of the 1980's and very early 90's. Doctor Dre paved the way for organic rappers everywhere with The Chronic
. Organic rappers used many samples, but you could hear them a lot clearer than old school rappers. The organic rappers were angrier than the rappers before them though. Duran Duran's Ordinary World
was a song with a sound stuck in the middle of the very early 90's and the mid 90's. After they found success with that song, music started to ultimately morph into what it was for most of the Clinton 1990's. 1993 was the first year that had the big change in it. Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews, Melissa Etheridge, and Atlantis Morissette all ran with the organic sound for the Clinton 90's. Billy Ray Cyrus' Achy Breaky Heart
gave country music its raw and organic sound again. You can still compare it to Tom Cochrane's Life is Highway
. Of course, radio stations everywhere were playing Whitney Houston's cover of I Will Always Love You
during this time. TV and Toys
The transition from 1987 to '93 was just about complete around this time. Children already had Barney the Dinosaur posters on their walls well before we were in 1993. Once the Toon Turtles showed up, they gave us an idea of what was to come for the mid 90's. The card style used for the '88-'92 figures was instantly discarded for 1993. In my honest opinion, the toyline never recovered from that time in 1993. Scratch, the mini figures, and pizza tossing figures are rare for this reason. Movies and Fashions
The weekends in early January of '93 were not filled with many movies in them. Aladdin seeped into '93 the way Ariel seeped into '90. Leprechaun made his debut just weeks before H.W. Bush left office. The Leprechaun was the first ever dark and edgy Chucky-esque antagonist for the 90's. He WAS the antagonist for Clinton times. This movie was playing in theaters while Clinton's inauguration was on television. Most of my older friends like this month in 1993 because they were not paying much for jeans. The idea of buying big name brand jeans from the mall was so yesterday to them. Kurt Cobain made it cool to buy vintage 70's jeans from the local Salvation Army. Everyone's acceptance of that notion in early '93 made 1992 officially old. The white shirts of this period officially buried the Guess jeans shortalls of the early 90's.
The early 90's were not as long a period as the late 80's were. They came and went fast. The real 90's (January 20, 1993- January 20, 2001) were much longer. Those times actually defined the 90's. My friends and I still see 1990-1992 as being years of the 80's. After all, 1992 ended with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Malcolm Jamal Warner still on NBC, and the other Golden Girls spin-off. The Clinton 1990's had plenty of leftover early 90's stuff in it to let you know it was not that far away from 1990. There was one major difference between those years and 1990. The Clinton age had wayyyy more internet in it. Oh, and Corey Matthews viciously replaced Kevin Arnold on ABC. Because we were in the new touchy-feely 90's , people began making fun of the 80's and very early 90's. The change was officially made before January of '93 was over. The very early 90's will not ever be forgotten. How many people watch reruns of Saved by the Bell and Quantum Leap each day? If the late 60's had flower children, the 70's had bell bottoms, the 80's had skinny ties, then the very early 90's definitely had Zubaz pants. Yes, there is a Zubaz.com, Retro Junkers. Thank you for reading, everyone.
Badical to the Max.