MMMBop - Hanson: I flew into Minneapolis one early June afternoon in 1997, got picked up by a guy I had just started dating, and this hummer came on the radio. I called it: at once, it was going to be the most loved, most hated, and most overplayed song of the summer. But apparently I was really, really late on the draw. It was already #1 in the nation, and would be for nearly two months. Deservedly so. Unabashed, unadulterated bubblegum fun, fun, fun, and one great antidote for the angst and flannel of the early-mid 1990s. "MMMBop" singlehandedly paved the way for the resurgence of the post-Nirvana boy bands and a myriad of guilty pleasures, including...
I Want It That Way - Backstreet Boys: I wanted to hate this one. I could NEVER get behind New Kids on the Block (let alone that lamefuck NKOTB reunion), and I figgered this was just another incarnation thereof. But sitting in Portland traffic one late spring afternoon a few years later (and damn, PDX traffic SUCKS considering it ain't all that huge a city), this breezy tune hit my speakers, and I've seldom been hooked so hard. Honestly, everything that's right and good and perfect and dreamy about boy bands is right here, and if you don't like this song, you probably will never get the whole boy band thang. My infatuation hit epic levels one day in 2007 when I drove to and from work playing ONLY this song. Replay, replay, replay. It was the aural equivalent of a large orange/vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone (I have the immortal Pat's Twist-o-Cream from the late '70s to thank for that memory. RIP.) And I ain't the only one who loved this one. Rolling Stone apparently placed this beauty ahead of "Good Vibrations" in a list of the best summer songs of all time. Much consternation and wailing ensued from the boomers, but for sheer enjoyment, I agree - "I Want It That Way" blows even that classic out of the water.
When You Close Your Eyes - Night Ranger: I won't deny the NR lovers their "Sister Christian," which is epic. But this one is truly my favorite. The video did it for me. Learning about love in the back of a Chevrolet? Phallic guitar wank-o-ramas? Drowning your sorrows at the bar and imagining your lost love is standing right there? This one might have out-Desert Mooned "Desert Moon," even, for sheer cliches. As anyone who watched MTV back in 1983 will attest, these guys ROCKED. There was a lot of competition to be the biggest big hair band back then (Ratt, Def Leppard...hell, Ozzy himself), and maybe Night Ranger didn't quite make it to the top of the heap, but they put up a damned good fight. (If you like both those songs, you HAVE to get Night Ranger's Greatest Hits.)
Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-A-Lot: No real comment on this song. I just wanted a reason to type "callipygian" in a proper context. Callipygian, callipygian, callipygian.