Retroville

Introduction: 1994A year full of love and hate, tragedy and triumph, and most notably: controversy. In ’94, there were breakthroughs in not only TV, music and movies, but also memorable moments in politics, sports and other aspects of life and entertainment. This was the year where world-renowned figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was clobbered in the leg by an estranged man hired by Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, which led to Harding being banned from the sport for life. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII, thus helping the Bills lose an unprecedented fourth consecutive Super Bowl. Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for Nirvana, was found dead in his home by suicide. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president, and Tony Blair became leader of the British Labor Party. O.J. Simpson was displayed on TV not because of a football game, but because of his infamous “chase scene” as he fled from the police in his white Ford Bronco. Adding on to that, the phenomenon known as Dinosaurs was born, paving the way as one of the top family sitcoms of the decade. And the granddaddy of them all: Woodstock ’94, had emerged as the twenty-fifth anniversary to the original Woodstock. So as I refrain myself from rambling off about the headlining stories of ’94, I end my note here and leave it for the rest of my comrades to finish.

Big Time NewsOne of the biggest headlines for the music industry in 1994 was the death of Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain. He died at the age of 27, during the height of his career. Nirvana had reached close to household recognition. They had toured the world and released two top ten Billboard records with Nevermind and In Utero. Besides being a highly recognizable band, Nirvana did so much more. They challenged the standards of not just the music industry, but the country and the world. They were well known for playing festivals and charity gigs, and were rather outspoken about their politics. They were sometimes referred to as “The flagship band of a generation.”According to a note written by Cobain, it was this immense success that had put him over the edge. Even though it is quite apparent he had committed suicide, many die-hard fans still prefer to accuse Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, of arranging his death. Either way, the loss of such a prominent figure in the musical forefront was both sad and mysterious.

Best CDNirvana’s somber acoustic performance in New York serves as a fitting memorial for Kurt Cobain. Released in November 1994, six months after their lead singer’s suicide, the whole album emanates with eerie melancholy. With uncharacteristic clean guitars accompanied by an unfamiliar solemn voice of Kurt Cobain and a violinist, each song reverberates with the hymns of a beloved band’s last hurrah. Though it was recorded a year before, in retrospect, Nirvana’s performance strangely coincides with what was going to happen a mere five months later: Cobain’s death. From the white lilies that adorned their stage to the depressed feel of acoustic guitars, the whole performance seemed like the wake of a funeral. Even the witty banter between Cobain and the audience had an uneasy and uncomfortable baritone. Their gleeful responses to the lead singer’s jokes almost sounded like prerecorded laugh tracks of people who have long been deceased. Overall, this album is the best one that came out in 1994. Even without all the mysticism that surrounds it, it is a great album that anyone could listen to. The Grammy Award that it garnered in 1996 solidifies this fact. It is a testament to what they could do and what they could have done. It is not merely an album, but the perfect punctuation to Nirvana.

Best Movie1994 was a year that hosted many great movies including Academy Award winner “Forest Gump” and Academy Award nominees “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Pulp Fiction.” To top it off, one of the best Disney movies was released in that decade, “The Lion King.”Those movies are all great, but the movie that had the most impact was a small market independent movie. Kevin Smith’s Clerks is considered to be one of the best independent films of all time. “Clerks” is about two friends that work in a convenience store. The movie follows them through an abnormally normal day; the very simplistic plot and setting makes so anyone can relate to the story in some way.The rough editing and black and white cinematography added to the darkness of the movie, in addition to making it edgy and funny at the same time. The end result was even more impressive, considering Smith had a budget of about $27,500 to film, cast, and edit the movie. Much of the cast were actually Smith’s friends and family members, who he asked to be in the movie due to the extreme budget restraints. All the same, the movie leaves a lasting impression on the audience with its surprisingly philosophical writing mixed in with the intensely funny dialogue.In the end the film made over $3 million, and took home several awards at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.

Best Television ShowIn 1994, I was in the fourth grade, without much care in the world other than getting my homework done and riding my bike. My parents and I would sit down in front of the TV for a bit of family tube time. We would tune into Dinosaurs. The crazy sitcom that looked at the life of a family of dinosaurs; the show resembled The Honeymooners, as the father worked, the mother took care of the kids, the son was on a sports team, and the daughter was crazy. There was even a crazy baby that bit the living hell out of his dad in every episode. Though no one really noticed that the family of dinosaurs was made up of entirely different breeds of dinosaurs and that herbivores were hanging out with carnivores. This was one classic TV show that I fondly remember from my youth; from the series ending with them stuck in tar pits, to the “Not the Mama” rap, and even to the crazy things that the family went through. Dinosaurs is one show that sometimes and only sometimes I wish was still on the air, but it is one of just many shows from the 90’s that faded into the past.

Best Concert“Woodstock 94,” the twenty-fifth anniversary of the original peace concert in 1969, was held in Saugerties, New York. Considered the biggest concert of the year, it had bands leaving the Lollapalooza tour to play there. Over 30 of the hottest bands of that time gathered, including Green Day, Metallica, Primus, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cypress Hill, Counting Crows and The Cranberries playing alongside Joe Crocker, Crosby, Stills and Nash, John Sebastian, Santana, The Band and Country Joe MacDonald. The goal was supposed to bring people together for a concert, putting forward the mantra that peace is good and necessary. However, the bands that played were more radical in their sound, quickly filling the area with fighting and anger. Dubbed “Mudstock” for the heavy rain that fell during the second day of the show, people began fighting, dancing and throwing mud on stage while the bands were playing. Green Day’s set quickly degenerated into a mud-riot, which caused bassist Mike Dirnt to lose his front teeth when mistaken as a rogue concert attendee and was tackled by a bouncer. The music showed that people these days were more interested in anti-establishment style music rather than the peaceful protest rock of 1969. Woodstock was the first major show to demonstrate the coming storm of what new music would be like: cold, angry and anti-establishment.

Best Video GameSuper Metroid, although released in 1994, is still one of the more popular Super Nintendo (SNES) games to this day. It stars Samus Aran, heroine of the previous two Metroid games (Metroid, Metroid 2: Return of Samus) on a brand-new adventure.The most noticeable part of Super Metroid was the graphics, which the SNES highlighted in spades. The gameplay was true to the previous games, which made things easier for veterans to pick up and play. It was also difficult, but not too challenging for newer play
ers. The semi-linear style of Super Metroid is one of the things that appealed to many people. You could go through the game hunting for all of the power-ups in order to have a wide arsenal of weapons, or you could attempt to go straight to the final boss with little to no extra ammunition if you wanted a challenge. The choice was yours.Yes, Super Metroid is a game that will truly live on in history as a game everyone could enjoy. Although there are newer Metroid games out there, they can never compare to the side-scrolling classics that helped start the series in the first place.

FashionIn the ’90s, people didn’t care if clothes matched or if hair looked like there was a nest ball in it. In fact, mix-matching clothes was a trend. 1994 was the year when the grunge look went mainstream.This fashion was highly influenced by grunge music, which was huge in the early ’90s. Whether you were wore ripped blue jeans that showed your scabbed knee, a jean jacket that you wore everyday, a ripped or new long-sleeved plaid shirt, or Chuck Taylor All-Stars that were love to your feet; you were in the grunge scene. Take a look at the gods of grunge: Nirvana. They wore what they wanted and dressed crappy, yet they looked so cool. They not only made good music, but a good fashion statement with plaid button sweaters and a band t-shirt and ripped jeans. They also had shoulder length hair, and held an attitude like there was no tomorrow. The grunge era took over the scene of wearing bright colored clothing. Although dressing this way wasn’t intended to be fashionable, the fashion industry liked the grunge impression enough to make and sell plaid shirts, hoodies, vests, and shorts.