60 Songs That Explain the '90s

60 Songs That Explain the '90s

The 1990s were a turning point in music: with the increasingly connected world enabling an unprecedented coalescence of various styles and genres, the decade featured the rapid evolution of sonic artistry — and subsequently shaped the soundscape of eras that followed. Listen along as The Ringer’s preeminent music critic Rob Harvilla curates and explores 60 iconic songs from the ‘90s that define the decade.

Episodes

February 28, 2024 92 mins
Rob ranks the books he was forced to read in high school before turning his focus on the greatness of Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” from her 1995 album ‘New Beginning.’ Later, Rob is joined by fellow Ohio native and author Hanif Abdurraqib to discuss why Ohio breeds such great writers such as Tracy Chapman. The guys also get into Chapman’s appearance at the Grammy’s and much more. Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Hanif Abdurraqib P...
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Hello friends, and thank you for stopping by for a very special episode of 60 Songs. With just three songs remaining, it felt like a great week to have some of Rob’s favorite guests as well as producers stop by and yell at him over songs that he missed. Enjoy! Host: Rob Harvilla Guests: Andrew Savage, Yasi Salek, Elamin Adelmahmoud, Alex Steed, Leslie Gray Streeter, Isaac Lee, Jonathan Kermah, and Justin Sayles Producers: Jonathan...
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February 14, 2024 93 mins
Rob looks at JAY-Z’s career backwards this week before reaching the rap legend’s 90’s pop crossover hit, “Hard Knock Life.” Along the way, Rob highlights the masterclass that is Funkmaster Flex premiering Kanye West and JAY-Z’a “Otis” on Hot 97 and much more. Later, the Ringer’s Wosny Lambre joins the show to discuss what JAY-Z’s rise to power in New York in the 90s, the importance of Hot 97 to New York rap, and JAY-Z the hyper-cap...
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February 7, 2024 110 mins
Rob reminisces on his time witnessing Janelle Monae perform at South By Southwest in the year of Michael Jackson’s passing, before looking back at the King of Pop’s televised funeral. Along the way, Rob looks back at the height of Jackson’s powers in the '80s as well as a bit more tumultuous era in the '90s. Later, Wesley Morris joins the show to aid in deciphering how to process Michael Jackson’s career draped in success and contr...
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January 31, 2024 89 mins
Rob looks back at the movie ‘High Fidelity’ and observes the similarities between himself and one of the characters, who is also named Rob. Somewhere along the way, our Rob focuses in on Matthew Sweet, the Knack, Material Issue, and other artists singing power-pop songs about women they usually don’t get in the end. Finally, Rob gives attention to the Goo Goo Dolls and “Iris.” Later, Rob is joined by Niko Stratis to discuss the una...
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January 24, 2024 92 mins
Rob looks back at the top five songs that make him still feel like a 6-year-old, before turning his attention to the great George Michael. Along the way, Rob highlights a letter written to Michael from Frank Sinatra with his best dramatic reading. Later, Rob is joined by Rob Tannenbaum to discuss whether George Michael is on the MTV Mount Rushmore, and much more. Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Rob Tannenbaum Producers: Jonathan Kermah a...
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January 17, 2024 93 mins
Rob takes a trip down memory lane and once again back to his days of watching ‘Beavis and Butt-Head’ before stopping at his memory of the time Beavis and Butt-Head met a woman. That woman was Cher. Cher’s influence in the world of auto-tune is also discussed along the way. Later, Rob is joined by DJ Louie XIV to discuss the impact of Cher’s “Believe.” Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: DJ Louie XIV Producers: Jonathan Kermah and Justin Sayl...
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Rob looks back at his MTV watching days as a child in the late 80s before turning his attention to Lenny Kravitz. Along the way in his monologue, Rob highlights Kravitz’s appearance on ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ in 1991 and the perceived disconnect between black radio/publications and Kravitz’s music. Later, Rob is joined by writer Elamin Abdelmahmoud to further discuss Kravitz’s recent comments on this disconnect. Host: Rob Harvilla ...
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December 14, 2023 92 mins
Rob indulges in outright negativity when focusing on some of the worst songs of the '90s before turning his attention 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up,” voted one of the worst songs of the '90s by Rolling Stone. Later, Rob is joined by journalist and host of ‘Fine Beats and Cheeses’ Leslie Gray Streeter to discuss how '90s music criticism discredited the music of 4 Non Blondes. Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Leslie Gray Streeter Producers: Jon...
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December 6, 2023 93 mins
Listen as Rob reminisces on some of the funniest songs he heard from the back seat of the car as a child, before turning his focus to Sublime, the band’s frontman Bradley Nowell, and the jarring storytelling on the Sublime song “Date Rape.” Somewhere along the way, Rob is able to regain focus on the song at hand, “Santeria.” Later, Rob is joined by his “daughter” Yasi Salek from Bandsplain to discuss what Sublime means to her as a ...
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Listen as Rob and Yasi Salek are joined by Chris Ryan to hold the ultimate '60 Songs' draft! But before we get to that fantastic main event, Yasi roasts Robs for some of his worst mispronunciations across the history of the '60 Songs That Explain the 90s' pod, and there’s even a very special guest to kick off this special episode. This episode was taken from our live super show at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles on November 17...
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Rob looks back at the “SADNESS” mixtape that he put together in 1996 before turning to the tragic passing of the Notorious B.I.G., and mogul Puff Daddy’s transition from executive producer in the background to full-blown artist honoring Biggie (01:48). Stay tuned to hear guest Sowmya Krishnamurthy share her experience as Puff Daddy’s assistant and much more (58:15) Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Sowmya Krishnamurthy Producers: Jonathan ...
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November 8, 2023 94 mins
Listen as Rob confesses about that time where he sorta…kinda…maybe…beat up a guy at a Portishead concert in 1997. Stay as he dives into the world of trip-hop while celebrating Portishead’s “Glory Box” as well as other bands such as Massive Attack. Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Simon Reynolds Producers: Jonathan Kermah and Justin Sayles Additional Production Support: Chloe Clark Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com...
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October 25, 2023 83 mins
Listen as Rob lets us in on his dream of being the guy that plays piano at a party and serenades all the ladies. And if that isn’t enough for you, stay as he looks back at the 1996 film ‘Romeo + Juliet’ and the Swedish rock band the Cardigans while celebrating their hit “Lovefool.” SIGNED BOOKPLATE COPIES are available for preorder via Premiere Collectibles: https://premierecollectibles.com/harvilla Don’t forget to get your tickets...
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October 18, 2023 88 mins
Rob reflects on the times when he was a child in the car with his mother and inappropriate songs played on the radio, as well as his times as a parent driving his kids and explicit songs played in the car. This all leads to a deep dive on the ever-so-controversial rap icon, Eminem, and what his hit “My Name Is” meant to the '90s. Later, Rob’s editor and the host of ‘The Wedding Scammer,’ Justin Sayles, joins the podcast to discuss ...
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October 11, 2023 92 mins
Rob is back for the final stretch of '60 Songs That Explain the ’90s,' and this week, it’s all about guitar tone! Listen as Rob peruses Smash Mouth’s wild discography before turning to Soundgarden and their hit “Black Hole Sun.” Rob also somehow finds the time to share his top five favorite made-up band names. Later, author Mark Yarm joins the show to discuss Soundgarden’s place within the big four of grunge music. Preorder Rob's b...
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August 16, 2023 87 mins
Rob ranks the top five funniest moments in the film ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ to kick things off for this very special U2 edition of '60 Songs.' Later, Rob focuses in on what Bono and U2 meant to music in the ’90s versus their ’80s impact. Writer Annie Zaleski later joins Rob to dive into all things U2. Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Annie Zaleski Producers: Jonathan Kermah and Justin Sayles Additional Production Support: Chloe Clark Learn m...
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August 9, 2023 92 mins
Rob blends his memories of watching Pee-wee Herman with flash backs of his punk rock era while praising Fugazi and their 1990 alternative rock head banger, “Merchandise.” Later he is joined by Touché Amoré singer and host of ‘The First Ever Podcast’ Jeremy Bolm to discuss how intimating Fugazi was as a post hardcore band and much more. Preorder Rob’s new book, Songs That Explain the ’90s, visit the Hachette Book Group website. Host...
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August 2, 2023 90 mins
Rob looks back at the many times ‘Star Search’ failed to select musical stars who went on to be music icons. Don’t worry, he still finds plenty of time to give both Destiny’s Child and a young, pre-megastardom Beyoncé their flowers. Later, Rob is joined by the host of ‘Making Beyoncé,’ Jill Hopkins, to further discuss Destiny’s Child as both a buzzing ’90s R&B group and a stepping stone to Beyoncé’s pop culture domination. Host: Ro...
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July 26, 2023 94 mins
Before highlighting Mazzy Star and their moody hit “Fade into You,” Rob shares his new favorite song with us and dives into all things slowcore. Later Rob is joined by cultural columnist at De Los, the new Latino vertical at the Los Angeles Times, Suzy Exposito to discuss all things Mazzy Star, her goth yeehaw playlist, and more (1:06:00). Host: Rob Harvilla Guest: Suzy Exposito Producers: Jonathan Kermah and Justin Sayles Addition...
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