WERE YOU EVEN THERE?
Ruth Spencer looks at the high points of the 90s in New Zealand music.
Well I was kind of a-wondering, WONDERING whether you, too, know all the words to Can’t
Get Enough? Supergroove invented its own genre, a blend of rap, funk, rock and novelty act. They had more energy than anyone should legally have and a horn section that defied the traditional rules of horn sections by being cool. They also had an abundance of platonic relationships reminiscent of my man Mike Plato.
Basically the Spice Girls, but they were here, in the mall, where you could scream at them in person. They wore clothes as seen on TV, shiny tight things and rubber over-thongs. Their biggest hit, Tonight, was launched off the back of the TV programme that created the band. Reader, I auditioned. Fortunately it was before they figured out how funny the bad auditions are, so the world was gifted Jo Cotton instead. She made us laugh with her wit, not her singing.
Wandering the depths of the forest, you stumble upon a fairy grotto where a mysterious lemon juice salesman plies his wares. You unwrap your Chupa Chup and reach for the lasers. You’re at The Gathering, the only place to be at New Year’s in the 90s. Or maybe you’re not. Like they say of Woodstock, if you can remember the ambient hardcore industrial trance vibrating the mist, were you even there?
We wanted to break Che Fu’s Chains and help him out, and OMC went global, how bizarre. If you couldn’t rap along to 3 The Hard Way’s
Hip Hop Holiday you could still go “OH NO” really loudly in the chorus and feel cool. Sisters Underground’s In The Neighbourhood gave the suburbs so much streetwise cred that it felt like you were in a music video just walking to the dairy. MC OJ and Rhythm Slave did a TV ad rapping about school stationery and no one actually cringed. It was a different era.
There was a lot. We were lost in love and we didn’t know much, we wondered why love did this to us but we knew you had to put your clock back for the winter. If you want to see a Gen X-er look pained and wistful without mentioning the environment, drop words like Gluepot, Bodega and Quadrophenia into conversation. Ask them to pronounce Bressa Creeting Cake or HLAH. Then remind them the Red Nose Day song got to number one. Twice.
Nineties’ music was the best of times, except when it was the worst of times.