black and white

Ninety 90’s Songs: Canadian K.D.’s Constant Craving

image

Oh, the nineties. After the fun, excessive decade of the 80’s which featured innovation stacked on top the also over the top decade of the seventies, things became more subdued. Men sang about their grungy emotions, stopped wearing make up, and women starting to take center stage as moody gravitas-bearing muses. Even some of them stopped wearing make up, too. It wasn’t all Cyndi Lauper and her party anthems anymore. No, this was the decade of serious women. And more black and white videos.

#52 “Constant Craving” by K.D. Lang. Released in 1992, and then again in 1993, this song became a major hit. Unexpectedly, K.D. won Best Female Pop Vocal and Best Female Video awards (Female Video? Videos have a gender? Don’t they mean Video by a Female?).

Whether you identify with it’s lyrics due to feelings you have towards someone you like, or perhaps a vice you can’t shake, and those may very well be the same thing, it’s not difficult to imagine why this song was so popular. We tend to crave the things that are bad for us, don’t we? Knowing we shouldn’t indulge only makes those cravings worse. And more constant.

The video features a stage production of “Waiting for Godot.” The themes (pick one, many have studied it and there are several) were meant to complement the themes of the song. Is K.D. craving the return of a currently absent yet soon to return Godot-esque figure? Maybe she is just craving a chance to play a role in a production that famously features only men. Regardless, having her sing backstage while we see the play performed mirrors how our deep longings continuously rack our minds behind the scenes, while we put on a mask to the world that we are just fine.

While I usually rag on the choice of so many 90’s videos to go black and white, the choice here provides a bleak and stark effect that magnifies the light and dark shades of emotion depicted in the song and video. The song deserved its acclaim, which makes it sad that we still don’t hear this song as often anymore, despite being featured on music-recycling powerhouse Glee.

Ninety 90’s Songs: Someday, That Sugar Ray…

image

There’s something weirdly “meta” about music that occurs sometimes. Listening to something, you can’t help but feel a premonition of the nostalgia that a song will trigger many years down the line. It’s like you’re listening to a glimpse of the future, which, when listening to that song in that future, becomes a link to the past. It’s like that moment you know will be a memory, or that instance when the most mundane thing becomes memorable, remains forever like a two-way mirror. You always remember that there’s another side, even though you can only look through one direction at a time.

#54 “Someday” by Sugar Ray. Sugar Ray began as an Alternative band with a couple of albums devoted to a harder sound. ’97’s “Floored” was the pinnacle of that sound, but ironically their unique-sounding (on that record), reggae-inspired “Fly” was their biggest hit. It became popular across several formats aside from Alternative and Modern Rock, and many claimed that Sugar Ray could never do such a thing again. Their next album “14:59” (which hints at their “15 minutes of fame”) came along 1999 with more hits, including “Someday” among others like “Every Morning”.

“Someday” is a slower track, featuring some then-common synth organ accompaniment. It’s a sad sounding song, remorseful, and hints at some kind of regret or nostalgia. It was this sense, as well as a line in the lyrics, “I hear a song from another time and fade away”, that stuck with me. Even back in ’99 I knew that I would hear this in the future and that it would become the self-same song from another time. The video features a bar in some kind of Key West-ish retirement community or something. The whole thing is in black and white (oh, 90’s…) as if to evoke that effect of time passing. Overall, it’s a pretty good tune, and the kind of softer ditty that Sugar Ray would continue to put out.

You see, at the time of “14:59″s release, Sugar Ray was accused of selling out. They had already established themselves as a pretty decent Alternative act throughout the early and mid 90’s, but this attempt to garner more top-of-the-charts kind of acclaim led them to begin producing a more pop-oriented sound. Whether or not you agree with their apparent selling out and throwing their alternative sound under the bus, it was a successful move for them. Throughout the next decade they had become a pop staple, and left behind nary a trace of their alternative roots.

Every now and then, this song still plays on Adult Contemporary stations and I take a moment to reminisce. I remember musing that this song would stick around on the radio while sitting in the bathtub, my broken wrist hanging dryly off the side in a cast, and that I would always think about that someday in the past when I took the chance to deeply listen to the song, and that someday in the unknown future when I’d hear it again.