10 Songs from ‘90s Songstresses That Contributed to My Grown Up Self

The biggest signs of knowing when I’m procrastinating on life matters include the following:

a) When I start emailing all of my friends completely useless videos I’ve found on YouTube. I found one earlier today of a realistic dinosaur puppet that scared a bunch of grade school kids. Aaaaand send!

b) I start searching the Tumblr dashboard for tags related to Beverly Hills, 90210 and San Francisco. This will easily eat away your entire Sunday afternoon, especially if you have endless scrolling enabled.

c) I go on meaningless walks around the neighborhood that always seem to end with me winding up at a coffee shop. It’s odd how often that happens. Sometimes I swear I blink and I’m just standing outside of one.

d) I start listening to music from the 1990s and making my own custom playlists.

While I’m not thrilled that about a year and a half since graduating college, I’m still a big-time procrastinator, I’m happy that at least I’m consistent. As a writer, I understand how to burn that midnight oil in getting the time sensitive pieces done and out, even if it means sacrificing several hours of sleep. But this procrastination is not just strictly related to work – I’m the same when it comes to delaying a text message reply, working on tax filings, going grocery shopping. There have been nights where my dinner consisted of Nutella and like three spoonfuls of it all because I was kind of busy downloading Robyn’s entire discography. I know what my priorities are, sorry not sorry.

The nice thing is that it’s the ‘90s music that usually gets me back on track. I feel much more productive when I’m jamming out to songs that the 11-year-old version of me used to wear her CDs down to the skipping point with. These were the years before iPods and when I was going through my angsty times and needed the wisdom of older ladies to guide me outta there. And guide they did and still do.

Madonna Ray of Light

This album made me infinitely happy. I loved Madonna in her Ray of Light era, with the pretty golden curls and the blissful ‘just had a baby-ness’ and the whole William Orbit collab. Once, in middle school, I was at the mall with my Dad and heard this song playing and yanked him into the store that was playing it so I could wander around and listen. That store was Abercrombie & Fitch. My first and last time in there. You’ve never seen a girl faking being enticed by a v-neck shirt in her life the way I was that day.

Fiona Apple ‘Never is a Promise’

Each lyric within this song was a beautifully scripted story within itself and the kind in which you could come away from it with your personal meaning interpreted. Why was Fiona Apple light years ahead of us when it came to all of the hurt and joy and frustration that came within living? I didn’t understand it at the time, just that it made my heart hurt in a way that was probably foreshadowing a grown up heart hidden in there somewhere. Now I get it and I love it and I need this song to take up permanent residency in the song library in my head.

Lauryn Hill ‘Everything is Everything’

This is truly a sign of how old I’m getting to be, but you don’t hear songs with lyrics like these anymore. This song was made for driving with the top down, speakers blasting and driving off into the sunset on a summer’s night.

Robyn ‘Do You Know (What It Takes)’

I love Robyn circa today’s Body Talk and I loved her back in the Robyn Was Here days. If I could go to a club where they played this song every Saturday night, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Otherwise, I might have to make one. Hmm… million dollar idea here!

Garbage ‘Push It’

I’ve always had a massive thing for Shirley Manson, who was the queen of cool to my middle school self, and her band’s overall style and sound. Whenever I feel like it’s time to step up my game and assert myself in both the professional and personal aspects of my life, I put this track on. Or I start playing it in my head if I’m away from my iPod. Either or.

Alanis Morissette ‘Hand in my Pocket’

Never fear when you think that times are bad, because according to Alanis, they’re gonna be “fine, fine, fine!” And “quite alright” too. I like the harmonica on this song a lot. They’re such underrated instruments.

Des’ree ‘You Gotta Be’

There have been a lot of parodies of this song over the years – most notably, I remember watching Andy Richter lip sync to it on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. And while I might have laughed at these parodies, there’s something about this tune that I can’t laugh at. It’s the kind of song that you could get an entire bar to sing along to. Well, the refrain, anyway. It’s kind of confusing otherwise. But I promise you that the refrain will get so much love it’s insane!

Cher ‘Believe’

Cheesy as cheesy cheese will get? Yes. A song you couldn’t get off of the radio no matter what? Yes. More of a jam that my brother had a thing for than I did? Also yes. But it was so important in the ‘90s that Cher get a comeback and most importantly, it needed to be of the dance variety. I feel like my entire family bonded over this song – as I recall, more than one time we’d be listening to it while getting dinner ready.

TLC ‘No Scrubs’

Earlier this week I was talking about one of my match.com matches (don’t ask, this is an article for another time) with my roommate and I called him a scrub. “Ooh, he wears scrubs? That’s hot!” she replied back.

“No, not like a doctor scrub!” I laughed, “Like a scrub scrub. Like a TLC scrub.”

I used to get so excited when this song would come on The Box. Anyone remember that channel? I would close the door to my bedroom and practice the dance moves. This video also inspired me to fight the good fight for my first pair of platform shoes too.

Annie Lennox ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’

One of my favorite cover songs I’ve ever heard and by one of my favorite female vocalists of all time. I feel like I’ve composed a half a dozen music videos in my head to this one and they only get better each time.

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