If you grew up listening to alternative in the 90s, this will be a nice trip down memory lane. If you didn’t, here’s what you missed.

“In the Meantime” – Spacehog

There’s nothing particularly fascinating about this song: it doesn’t relate to a specific memory, there’s no outstanding hook, the guitar-playing isn’t out of this world. It just always reminds me of the 90s, so I had to include it.

“Blurry” – Puddle of Mudd

Lead singer Wes Scantlin showed even post-grunge rockers have a softer, sensitive side. It gave the band some much needed depth, and although it wasn’t their only hit in the 90s, it was definitely their best.

“Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand” – Primitive Radio Gods

The main appeal of this track was that it was just so cool: the unnecessarily long title; the almost-dance beat in the background; the random yellings of some guy. What isn’t there to love?

“Inside Out” – Eve 6

Whenever I hear this track, the only thing that pops into my head is their album cover: a large fly on the front, a heart with arrows in it on the back. I will never forget it because I bought the album based on this track alone, and stared at it endlessly, desperately seeking another likeable track. No luck there.

“Through the Looking Glass” – Stone Sour

Hard rockers getting in touch with their innermost thoughts, taking a stab at self-reflection, and discussing feelings, all through vocals full of vulnerability. It was emo, even before emo was emo.

“Curious” – Sandbox

A staple in the Canadian alternative music scene. Plus, how could you ignore the echo-y microphone effects (aka 90s autotune) and the catchy hook?

“Sic Transit Gloria…Glory Fades” – Brand New

It’s fast, it’s slow; it’s loud and in your race, it’s quiet and mysterious. It has it all, which is why I still love this track.

“If You Could Only See” – Tonic

This is lathered in so much 90s nostalgia, I can’t even handle it.

“Freshman” – The Verve Pipe

To be fair, this entire album was pretty good, but this track really stood out. It was seriously heavy, but also seriously great. It hits deep down, no matter how many times you listen to it, no matter how long it’s been since the first time you heard it.

“Popular” – Nada Surf

It’s so high school, so 90s, and so everything.

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I’ve always said that U2 was my first favourite band of all time, and that held true for a very very long time. Everything they created was gold, and it’s because of them, rock ‘n roll became a part of me. I had a carefully curated 22-track mixtape of my favourite U2 songs, which I listened to on repeat for all of high school. I once ran into Bono on the street, and nearly fainted. I quoted them in my high school yearbook. The first song I ever learned on guitar was “One.” That’s how huge they were in my life.

 

However, as of late, I’ve also said, with the exception of a couple of tracks, everything they did after 2000’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind was forgettable; painful even. They’d lost their musical focus, and tried to impress with showmanship instead of musicianship (360 stage, anyone?) I wanted to keep loving them, but they’d evolved into something I couldn’t admire anymore – they’d lost their way and I longed for who they were, not who they’d become. I felt cheated, and foolish.

 

When I saw them live back in 2015 for the Innocence + Experience Tour, I announced with certainty (as I had a few times before,) that I refused to witness another subpar performance. I was done with them for good. How much can a person take? When they announced their Joshua Tree Anniversary Tour, I stood strong. I didn’t sign up for the presale. I didn’t even want to check availability on Ticketmaster or StubHub. I had given them enough chances over the years, and they continued to fall short. I stood by my decision for months and months, never wavering.

 

But as fate would have it, the day of the show, a ticket came my way. So there we sat in our over-priced seats at the SkyDome, on a ridiculously humid summer evening, with full knowledge that the acoustics weren’t going to be great in such a large venue. Our seats, like most, were far from the action. After way too much waiting/sweating, Larry Mullen Jr. strut across the stage, straight towards his drums. In one simple flick of the wrist, I recognized “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” Suffice it to say, they had me at “hello.”

 

They continued to sweep me off my feet with the nostalgia, before segueing into performing the entire Joshua Tree album, start to finish, in the same order as they appeared on the album. I know this, because that’s how I used to listen to the album (clearly before becoming aware of the “Shuffle” feature.) I’d always play tracks 1-3, skip 4, then play 5-7, skip 8-11, then start back at 1.

 

As much as I resisted, I fell for them all over again. They weren’t being theatricalor overdramatic – more their old selves. The screen behind them mostly featured nature scenes as backdrops to their tracks. Was it their best show? No. Some of the performances lacked some umph, and there were definitely too many prolonged lulls. But they reminded me why I – and everyone else – loved them so much all those years ago; they reminded us what U2 was all about, something I thought they’d forgotten.

 

No matter how much your first love changes over time, no matter what directions you go in life, what keeps drawing you back isn’t the person themselves, but the memories that went with them. This show brought back a lot of memories, and I’m glad I got see them live. But I swear: this time was really the last time.

 

I remember a time when the MuchMusic Video Awards (aka MMVAs) were everything. They were surrounded by so much hype, and because they shut down Queen St. and performed in parking lots, it made this awards show young, cool, and quirky. Over the years though, the intensity of the frenzy diminished, mostly because MuchMusic stopped really being about music. The MMVAs – now called iHeartRadio MMVAs – are coming up this weekend, so I thought I’d take a look at some of my favourite MuchMusic memories.

5 Intimate & Interactive

A few hours dedicated to interviewing a particular musician, and also having them perform live, while surrounded by their fans in the MuchMusic studio. VJs would take on hosting duties, and find out things like which members of the Backstreet Boys wore boxers, and which ones wore briefs. Or what was Avril Lavigne’s deal with skater boys? The performances were often more stripped-down, cozier versions of original tracks, making the musicians more accessible to fans, who also had the opportunity to engage with their idols.

 

4 Big Shiny Tunes

The be-all and end-all of compilation albums. If you didn’t own either BST1 (released in 1996) or BST2, we definitely were not friends. They had all the best rock/alternative tracks of the year. It wasn’t always the big names either; they also included the likes of Poe, Wide Mouth Mason and Placebo. I tapped out after the 2nd volume, but apparently they went all the way up to 14 (2009.) If you want to impress anyone with 90s music knowledge, check them out.

 

3 The VJs

I used to watch hours and hours of MM after school, so I felt like I personally knew all the VJs. I’m not talking about the ones that are still on TV like, Devon Soltendieck, Rick (the “temp”) Campanelli, or even Geroge Stroumboulopoulos. I’m talking about the ones that truly defined the classic MM VJ.  Like Bill Welychka. He had 90s Eddie Vedder hair (that he eventually cut, making him unrecognizable,) and wore plaid shirts. Master T: the dreadlocked rap connoisseur. Sook-Yin Lee, aka the Asian hipster, before Asian hipster was even a thing. Being a MuchMusic VJ was my dream job for a very long time. Too bad it never worked out.

 

2 Speaker’s Corner

This was such a staple of the downtown Toronto community. A video booth where you could rant and rave about whatever you wanted. You could talk, sing, scream, complain, support, encourage, whatever came to your mind, no matter your mood. It was such a Toronto thing, and the chosen ones’ videos would get broadcast on TV. More often than not, at strange hours of the day, but sometimes, in those strange hours, Speaker’s Corner was exactly what was needed.

 

1 Electric Circus

Doesn’t matter what music you were into, everyone wanted to be on Electric Circus. A full out dance party/rave in the MM studios, hosted by none other than the Monika Deol. There were so many theatrics going on, because everything was being broadcast on TV. Fluorescent make up, arms flailing with glow sticks in hand; 10″ heels, so much pleather, tube tops, and shiny silver pants. And of course the gyrations, bare midriffs, and indoor sunglasses. My favourite though, were all the fame chasers who dance so hard when the camera came near them, as though they were about to be discovered. What an iconic show.

 

Oh MuchMusic, I miss you.