The Rundown: Music Turning 25 This Year

Above: Just a few of the most memorable albums turning 25 this year
Above: Just a few of the most memorable albums turning 25 this year

Want to experience a really weird feeling?

Jump on the Internet and do a Google search for music or movies that came out a significant number of years ago that corresponds with how old you are and then try to put into words the sensation you get when memories you have surrounding those songs or albums come flooding back.

It’s freaky… and kind of fun, which is why we’re kicking of 2016 with a look at some of the memorable music that turns 25 this year.

“2 Legit 2 Quit” – Hammer

If you’re of a certain age (like me), you remember the hand motions that accompanied the hook of this song, which was the lead single from the album of the same name, but with different spelling – Too Legit to Quit.

What’s crazy here is that this album was the follow-up to the smash hit Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt’em, which produced a ton of hits, and for some reason, M.C. Hammer opted to drop the M.C. and just go by Hammer. The video (remember those) was loaded with famous people doing the hand motions and the album was successful, but it also feels like the point where Hammer’s career started to fall off a cliff.

“Two Princes” – Spin Doctors

You couldn’t escape this song in 1991 and if you were around to experience it at its apex, you know all the words and can’t help but sing the skat-y, be-bop part all the damn time even when you’re trying really hard not to.

Now that we’re far enough removed from “Two Princes” being an earworm that you can’t get rid of, it feels like a song that could become a fun, “Hey – I remember this!” track that people start to love again. Or you heard it too much in 1991 that you’re never going to be able to hear it again without wanting to skip ahead or change the station.

“More Than Words” – Extreme

In putting this together and seeing that “More Than Words” was 25 years old now, I instantly flashed back to Jennie Bishop’s birthday party in late May 1991 and snuggling up with my seventh grade girlfriend at the time, Carrie Salvador.

As soon as this song was released in March, it immediately became the best slow dance song at every YMCA dance on Friday nights and the song every guy that could play a guitar or sing at the time had to learn, instantly. And it’s still a really good song.

“Life is a Highway” – Tom Cochrane

American readers aren’t going to understand this and it doesn’t necessarily apply now in the age of Spotify and iPhones and iTunes, etc. but there was something especially awful about a Canadian single becoming successful during the 1990s because Can-Con rules meant it got played literally every hour on every station on the dial.

The ironic thing about Tom Cochrane’s insanely overplayed hit is that there were other songs on the Mad Mad World that weren’t bad, like “No Regrets” and “Sinking Like a Sunset.” All of that gets lost and Cochrane became overexposed because this song was everywhere, including far too many high school yearbook quotes since people in 1991 had zero originality.

Music for the People – Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

Of all the albums turning 25 this year, this might be my favourite – not because it was particularly good, but because holy shit remember when Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg was the front man of a rap outfit that was a very poor man’s precursor of The Roots?

The group didn’t last all that long – two albums – and “Good Vibrations” was the only major hit that they had, but damn… Dirk Diggler used to be a rapper!

Use Your Illusion I & II – Guns N’ Roses

There are all these rumours about Axl & Company getting back together at Coachella, but if you lived through the awesomeness of these two albums, which featured gems like “November Rain,” “Don’t Cry” and “Yesterdays,” you know not to believe anything about Guns N’ Roses because we heard for years that Chinese Democracy was coming out and that thing took a decade to arrive.

This was one of the first double CD releases that I can remember and people lost their minds waiting for it to come out. By the way, the piano/orchestra breakdown near the end of “November Rain” is still one of my favourite pieces of music of all time.

Metallica (The Black Album) – Metallica

Yeah, so this is one of the most enduring, outstanding albums of the last 25 years and that’s coming from someone who came around to the album about five or six year after it was released and I stopped being a complete hip hop snob.

Some of the bands most well-known and successful singles came from this album and they all hold up exceptionally well, as does the album as a whole. Honestly, you could release tracks like “The Unforgiven” or “Nothing Else Matters” now and they would still be massive hits, which is the mark of iconic tracks and a killer album.

The Low End Theory – A Tribe Called Quest

Having already run down my favourite Tribe tracks not that long ago, I won’t spend too much time the group’s sophomore album, which featured four tracks that cracked my personal Top 10. What I will say is that this is a masterful hip hop album.

Another Tribe-related musical offering that turns 25 this year? “Groove is in the Heart” by Dee-Lite, which featured Q-Tip. Dig it!

Nevermind – Nirvana

Both Time and Rolling Stone have heralded this album as one of the best of all time and I’m not one to argue with those esteemed publications. Personally, I wasn’t a huge Nirvana guy, even though my days as a complete hip hop snob had faded.

All these years later, I can appreciate the impact the album and the band had, really enjoy “Come As You Are,” but I still think there were a lot of people that quickly pledged their undying allegiance to the wrong “grunge band” from the Pacific Northwest.

Ten – Pearl Jam

Because this is the Seattle band and album that instantly stood out to me. Ten is a masterpiece and to me, far superior sonically to Nevermind. I know that was kind of the point of Nirvana, but I never quite understood that point because I like my music to sound awesome, not kind of good with hints of not great mixed in.

I remember getting this tape for my birthday, which was a couple months after the album’s release, and it was one of the first cassettes that I just let play through all the time. Sure, I had favourite songs, but there were no “fast forward through this one” tracks on the album and that really stood out to me. The opening of “Even Flow” remains a thing of beauty.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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