Playlist of the Month: Break Out The Cassettes, It’s 1995

We’re smack dab in the middle of Clueless Week, and to help you get more in the mood of 20 years ago – and get through hump day – today, we’re transporting you back two decades with the power of music.

Songs have this ability to bring you back to a certain time and event in your life, whether it be good or bad. As I was compiling this playlist, I realized that 1995 was one of the first years I became a *fan* of music and certain artists, as opposed to just singing along with songs on the radio. For better or worse, the songs I heard in 1995 helped form my musical tastes today, and help me reminisce about my younger years when my extent of my worries was weather Mrs. Green was going to be in a good mood in class that day or not.

So here are some of our favorite tunes to bring you back to the Clueless era, and get ready to play them on your new-fangled computers and streaming services.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify HERE!

Traci’s Picks

Another Night by Real McCoy

Kids, dance music was big in the 90s. Not EDM music of today with your Calvin Harrises and Aviciis and Tiestos. But electronica, Euro-inspired dance music that The Night at the Roxbury guys would groove to in the clubs. It’s a sound that’s so specifically 90s, and I remember this legitimately being my favorite song that I would write down in personality tests.

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan

Although this was arguably Montell Jordan’s biggest hit in 1995, I would also argue that it’s a hip-hop classic, and also one of my go-to karaoke songs.

Switch by TLC

CrazySexyCool/Waterfalls was one of the biggest albums of the 90s, with the record over two years on the Billboard album charts. It was a career-defining CD for the ladies, and was basically a soundtrack to my life when I was a kid. In fifth grade, me and three of my friends decided to enter our school talent show, and we decided to do a dance to this B-Side track. As we were practicing in my friend’s basement, I suggested someone move forward during Left Eye’s rap and basically lip sync to it. Since it was my idea, I had to do it. We got like second or third place. I believe we lost to a male-cousin team who lip synced to Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. One of them was dressed in drag. This was 5th grade.

Always Be My Baby by Mariah Carey

I think I was first introduced to Mariah when I procured Music Box on cassette, and I subsequently got Daydream – I want to say by borrowing it from the library? Anyways, I listened to it non-stop, and Always Be My Baby was probably my fave jam out of hit after hit on that record. Can we just get this Mariah back, please?

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

For a long period of time, I used to tell people the first CD I ever bought was Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. It was a stock answer for anyone around my age, because that’s how big of an album it was. In reality, the first CD I ever bought was Weird Al Yankovic’s Bad Hair Day, strictly because of his parody of Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise – Amish Paradise. I thought I was cool. Jagged Little Pill was actually a Christmas gift in ’95, and when I eventually got around to listening to it, turns out it wasn’t that bad.

Honorable Mentions: Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America, Stay by Lisa LoebOne of Us by Joan Osborne

 Molly’s Picks

Wonderwall by Oasis

I was so young, I didn’t even know that none of this made sense.  Radio was more segmented in 1995 (before it was all, like, radio conglomerates?) so you had your station that strictly played “alternative” versus those that played pop. It was really tough for us fourth graders who were really into Mariah AND Oasis trying to hover in front of the radio with a cassette tape to record our favorite songs.

Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio

I was obsessed with this song. And like Traci, I was even MORE into Amish Paradise. I thought Weird Al was hilarious, and what can I say, I was going through a phase where I thought the Amish were awesome. But in real life, I lived in a city neighborhood. Some might even call it a Gangsta’s Paradise. By the way, watch Dangerous Minds – the movie this is from – for a very different perspective on 1995 teens than you get in Clueless.

Life, In A Nutshell by Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies were huge in our area, and with my sibs especially. I’m still jealous that one of my brothers got to hang out with them backstage, and it’s been 15 years. The 1994 album Maybe You Should Drive is filled with 90s nuggets like Alternative Girlfriend (referencing a girl in an all-girl band who has a second-hand futon), Jane (mentioning the fairytale romance between … Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando, of course. What, you don’t remember that love story for the ages? Evan “Lemonheads” Dando!), and Life, In A Nutshell.

Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G.

You can’t talk about mid-90s music without mentioning the big players in the rap game: Biggie and Tupac. You know what’s kind of amazing? How old-school 80s, early 90s rap had evolved to this by 1995, and it still sounds like it could be released today, maybe minus the synth.

Here Comes The Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze

I am including this strictly so that I can explain that I just learned last year that the lyrics are NOT “I’m the leprechaun gangster.” But for some cultural context, the horror movie Leprechaun was released in ’93 and leprechauns in general were much more intimidating in the ’90s.

Also, I just learned that this song is called Here Comes The Hotstepper now. Right now. While making this playlist.

Honorable Mentions: Don’t Take It Personal by Monica, Run-Around by Blues Traveler, I Believe by Blessid Union Of Souls, Roll To Me by Del Amitri (I just learned ~5 years ago that it’s not “the right time, the wrong me”), Waterfalls by TLC, Fantasy by Mariah  … I can’t stop. I could list every song from 1995. What a year.
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Not Ensembly Challenged: Still-Wearable Clueless Fashion

If you want to know how teens dressed in the 90s, just watch Clueless. Sort of. Not the main characters – nobody really dressed like that. No, next time, keep your eye on the background players. The unflattering jeans, the scrunchies, the awkwardly cut shirts – those were the true Kids In America, 1995.

Because Cher, Dionne, and friends were basically cartoons of the most extreme mid-90s teen style, most of their clothes would look ridiculous today. Heck, most of them looked ridiculous in ’95. That was kind of the point. But now that the 90s have circled back into fashion there are some looks that would look just as fresh today as they did 20 years ago. Wear these, and you will not have to choose between identifying as fashion victim or ensembly challenged.

Cher’s Pajamas


I can’t find a better shot of them, but I want these fresh-as-a-daisy crop top pajamas right now.

Cher’s Grade Change Outfit

The perfect simple, preppy, tennis-y outfit. Not that Cher played tennis.

Tai’s Post-Makeover, Picture-In-Elton’s Locker Outfit

There’s a lot of plaid in Clueless. Much of it unwearable. But this – this is adorable, and honestly very typical of 90s teens. (Source: when Clueless came out I was 8 and lived with the next-coolest thing to a unicorn for an 8-year-old girl – a teenage sister who sometimes let me hang out when her friends were over). Not so wearable: Ambular’s … outfit… thing.

Dionne’s Multicolored Extensions

Between Stacey Dash’s general agelessness and the popularity of colorful yarn braids, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t 2015. Seriously, how amazing does she look?

The Alaia

Along with the yellow plaid outfit, this is Cher’s iconic look (thanks for nothing, Iggy Azalea, haven’t you done enough?). The wacky feather-trimmed jacked should probably stay at a val party in 1995 where it belongs, though.

Dionne’s Layered Necklaces

If you look closely, Dionne has these layered gold necklaces – a cross and some kind of pendant – that she wears in a few scenes. Very 2K15 appropriate.

Cher’s Post- Hall/Geist Setup Celebration Outfit

I know I said that there’s a lot of plaid, and, well, there IS a lot of plaid. But this is the cutest outfit and brings together so many of the mid 90s looks I remember: the 70s minidress revival, prep (knee socks!), plaid, and unnecessary hats.

Cher’s Gym Class Outfit

I could never wear the tank top over a tee without looking like a Sister Wife, but this puts all the stupid, schlubby t-shirts and sweats I wore to gym class to shame. See also: an early prototype of the cell phone case. Amber, stop.

Cher And Dionne’s Outfits When Tai Is Wearing Farmer Clothes

Empire waists were a big deal – even for kids. ONe of my school concert outfits had a bow just like Cher’s and I thought I was so cool. Sportswear was also a big deal, a la Dionne’s amazing black and hot pink ensemble. And Tai… well, Tai. Troll dolls were in, what can I say. Also the girl in the background is wearing a shirt with this weird-shaped flower that was for some reason ubiquitous.

Cher’s Dress. Says who? Calvin Klein.

Another 90s trend, though you may not believe it from this movie: minimalism. A lot of plain tank tops, Gap staples, basic scoop-necked wedding gowns – a subdued reaction to the wackiness that was the late 80s and early 90s. This dress is perfectly on-trend and still looks lovely, especially without that sheer thing she drapes over it.

Cher’s Emma-Inspired Shopping Dress

This dress! There’s the minimalism and empire waist we talked about before. Is the waistline a nod to the Jane Austen era since Clueless is loosely based on Emma?

Dionne’s Wedding Hair

Before the flower crown, there was the flower everywhere. Why do I bet that if you walked into Claire’s or The Icing, 90% of the stock is the same as it was when I was 8 and Clueless was king?

Pocahontas: ’90s Fashion Goes 17th Century

Can you believe that tomorrow it will have been 20 years since Pocahontas? Pocahontas the movie, that is: Pocahontas the human died in like 1617. It has been two whole decades since Disney released its historically fuzzy account of a spirited Powhatan girl who gets White Man’s Burdened by a dude in that one haircut all the cute boys had in the mid-90s. Disney does a ton of research for each of their movies, but ultimately chose a ’90s-friendly interpretation of 17th Century style. So how do the 1600s look through a ’90s lens?

John Smith’s ‘Cute Boy In The ’90s’ Haircut

In 1994, all of the cute boys called a secret meeting and vowed to get That One Haircut. If you were a Tiger Beat reader or cherished your J.T.T. is H-O-T issue of Nickelodeon Magazine, you know exactly which one I’m talking about. It was center parted and layered back on the sides, so that all of the cute boys could brush it out of their eyes all of the time. Which was the haircut’s fatal flaw, I’d wager. It was always in the way. And it was in the way of EVERYONE, from Rider Strong to Christian Bale to… well, to John  Smith, who must have painstakingly layered his locks in his berth below deck of that old-fashioned wooden boat. Smith has the longer, more mulletty version of the cut, favored by your more outdoorsy Cute Boys In The ’90s.

Nakoma’s Sassy Bangs

In 1995, those late ’80s/early ’90s mall bangs were fading into history. Instead, your bangs were probably either a blunt-cut fringe or wispy and curled under with a round brush. I think my right forearm is still slightly more muscular than the left because of all that time I spent scrupulously curling my bangs under into a see-through hair dome. The curled-under bangs were innocent and girly, but the blunt Betty Page fringe was the trademark of a true sass factory. That’s why Disney gave them to the movie’s requisite Sassy Best Friend.

Pocahontas’s Ink

Remember “tribal tattoos?” And how if the only tribe you were in was the National Association Of College Bros, you probably shouldn’t have gotten one? There was a time when the tribal armband circled the bicep of every college dude in the land – it was the undercut haircut and waistcoat of 1995. Now those armbands are sported by 40-something dad types who only reunite with the “tribe” on alumni weekend.

By the way, those of us who were eight years old in 1995 had the Poor Man’s Tribal Tattoo, the stretchy band from Claire’s Boutique that always ended up on your wrist if you had skinny arms.

Pocahontas and Nakoma’s Girl Band Outfits

I get that buckskin was the only fabric option or whatever. But I still love how Pocahontas and her girl Nakoma have coordinating outfits. It’s like TLC or En Vogue or Salt n Pepa, where they’d each have a slightly different outfit but made of the same material. And at least one girl always had the crop top version. We’ve established that Nakoma was the resident sassafras, so naturally it was her.

Pocahontas’s Cher Horowitz Hair Flip

 

The crispy permed look was dead or dying in the mid-90s. Instead, everyone wanted the perfect voluminous blowout. It was several years before we all started flat-ironing our hair into brittle sheets, and health and movement were the hair goals. Pocahontas had, hands down, the best blow-out of the era, rivaled only by Cher Horowitz herself. I know Pocahontas didn’t have an animated blowdryer or anything, but I feel like she was always standing in the wind on a cliff with multicolored leaves swirling around her and stuff, so I guess that did the trick.

That Turquoise Necklace

Here’s where Disney was phoning it in (on a land line or one of those brick cell phones, because again, 1995). They were just like “oh, Native Americans LOVE turquoise!” because that whole Southwestern decorating thing was going on. But the key there is Southwest, I mean how would Pocahontas have ended up with it in Virginia? However, teal and turquoise were oddly popular at the time, so I think it was more a matter of picking a look that would help sell licensed Halloween costumes that year.

Thomas’s Center-Parted Bowl Cut

I think if you weren’t cute enough for the Cute Boy In The 90s Haircut, they made you get the center-parted bowl cut instead.