Using data to define the official canon of 90s music

I'm a big fan of the Pudding's clever approach to infographics, and this latest piece examining 90s music does not disappoint. They surveyed thousands of people, collecting millions of data points to find out how well they recognized charting songs from the 1990s, and analyzed the results according to birth year. Pretty cool!

Sinatra, Elvis, and Chuck Berry are emblematic of ’50s music, but what’s the ’90s equivalent? Using the recognition data we collected, we can begin to define the canon. These will be the artists and songs that Gen Z and beyond seem to recognize (and value) among all the musical output from the decade.

First, it’s important to understand the general trends in the data. “No Diggity” knowledge peaks among people born in 1983, who were 13 years old when the track debuted in 1996. We also see a slow drop off among people who were not fully sentient when “No Diggity” was in its prime, individuals who were 5 years old or younger (or not born yet) in 1996.

That drop-off rate between generations—in this case, Millennials to Gen Z—is one indicator for whether “No Diggity” is surviving the test of time

The Instagram post below is only a small piece of the results; check out the Pudding's website for the full analysis, with all your favorite (and/or totally forgotten) 90s pop gems.

View this post on Instagram

Part 1 of 2—New project: 1) Gen Z is far more likely to recognize "Wannabe" than "No Scrubs." 2) Will Smith is falling into obscurity.

Read the rest

Check your fear and get in gear — the VAN-PIRES are here!

The other day on Twitter, I asked people about their favorite weird 90s anthropomorphic animal-hero cartoons, for another project I'm working on. Someone skipped past the "animal" part of this question and shared this absolutely amazing gem of an opening credits sequence. Because this is a show about vans, that are also vampires, which live off of … gasoline, I guess?

I have no recollection of Van-pires. I was a pretty vociferous consumer of kids CGI sci-fi stuff, but maybe I was too old by the time it came out. The Wikipedia page claims it was a runaway hit that won "Sci-Fi Awards," although these claims come with no citations.

What is confirmable, however, is that the role of Tracula was played Jonathan Davis, the singer of the band Korn.

Do what you will with that information. Read the rest

Reply All goes on a wild scavenger hunt to find a song that might not exist

I'm not an obsessive listener to the Reply All podcast, but when it's on, it's on — and this week's episode is fantastic. Host PJ Vogt is contacted by Tyler Gillett, a film director who is absolutely not a musician, about a song that he remembers from his childhood. Every word and note of this alleged 90s pop song is perfectly imprinted onto Gillett's brain … but there's no proof anywhere on the Internet that such a song has ever actually existed. They even go as far as to recreate the song in a studio with a professional band, completely from Gillett's memory.

The full hour episode is strangely gripping, and offers some fascinating insights into the ways that we remember things, as well as the bizarre world of that late 90s major label music boom. (Also: Barenaked Ladies.)

Reply All #158: The Case of the Missing Hit [PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman / Gimlet Media]

Image: Hanul / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

If "Saved By The Bell" was remade with actual people you went to high school with

This was created by the Loose Meat comedy troupe for Everything is Terrible. I couldn't tell you why, or how, but I also can't look away.

Image: Humor Blog / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?

Apparently a 13-year-old Julia Stiles appeared in an episode of PBS' Ghostwriter series, playing the hacktivist editor-in-chief of the Hurston High School newspaper in "Who is Max Mouse?" Do let us revel in the memories of a simpler time, full of long-forgotten promises of a better world brought on by Gibsonian buzzwords and the promise of equality and opportunity through a technological utopia.

How naive we once were.

In case you aren't familiar with Ghostwriter, it was a PBS show about a group of kids who solved mysteries with the help of an invisible ghost who could manipulate letters and words to create sentences and clue the kids in to whatever information that they needed at the time. No one ever knew who this Ghostwriter was, or how it came into its knowledge or abilities, but a 2010 interview with producer and writer Kermit Frazier revealed the surprisingly dark that really puts a fascinating twist on my childhood: “Ghostwriter was a runaway slave during the Civil War. He was killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods.  His soul was kept in the book and released once Jamal discovered the book.”

That's a lot darker, and more powerful, than this old kids' show ever let me know.

Image by SlimVirgin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

I don't really 'get' this game, but I like it

My pal Cameron Kunzelman made this game called Epanalepsis, where three different characters 20 years apart walk around and talk about the things they see. I'm not sure I understand it, but I'm experiencing such excellent dissonance between what the game seems to be and what it says it is that I almost love it more. Read the rest