I was born in 1992. In many ways, I’m a stereotypical millennial. I listen to podcasts, my dream job would involve something that gives me the flexibility to work from home or anywhere in the world, I love to travel, and I a large portion of my social interaction and time wasting is through social media. But I also kind of hate my generation in many ways. I look at social media and I gag at the level of egotism and pseudo-intellectual douchebagery that pervades us.
In many ways, I think this is why I have always been fascinated by everything that came right before me and the years I couldn’t remember. I mean just take the 80s. What a wild time. People were just doing coke everywhere, men and women alike intentionally looked like cockatoos with hairspray and teasing out their air with so many bizarre methods, neon colors, spandex, acid wash jeans, popped collars. Like, how the hell did people think some of this looked cool and then I look and what’s trendy now, and I’m like oh yeah, we’re a bunch of imbeciles.
So I’ve been going through an 80s binge phase recently. I think I have averaged a different 80s movie every other day for the last month. After my brief study, I have come to one conclusion: It’s objectively true that 1985 was a banger of a year. Back to the future, Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire. Okay, St. Elmo’s Fire is objectively a bad movie. Like it makes no sense, and Emilio Estevez’s plot line is to stalk Andie MacDowell and her and her boyfriend are just cool with it? But this is why I love 80s movies. So many of them make absolutely no sense and would never be made today.
All of this 80s stuff has just made me think of any equally banger of a song from my adolescence: "1985" by Bowling For Soup. Okay, it’s not on the same level as the movies of 1985. It’s... okay… I guess.
Fun Fact: Ed and I once met the lead singer of Bowling For Soup. The year was 2010. We were in the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. We were on our way to Columbus Ohio for a swim meet. Isn’t it just so incredibly fitting that we were going Ohio when we met him? If you don’t understand why this is so fitting let me fill you in: Bowling for soup had song, not as famous as "1985" or "Almost," called "Ohio (Come Back To Texas)."
We were waiting for our flight at our gate. I was listening to what was almost assuredly Blink-182. I didn’t branch out of my pop punk roots much in my teenage years. Ed was being cool. At least cooler than me. We'll get to more of this in a couple paragraphs.
Ed leaned over to me and asked, “Dude, isn’t that the lead singer of Bowling For Soup?” 100% credit to Ed on this one. I would have never noticed. I craned my neck a bit while trying to not leave my seat and be so obvious (I was so obvious). I then looked up a picture of him on my iPhone 3GS. It was him.
We awkwardly went over. Okay, I admit I awkwardly went over. Ed has never awkwardly approached anyone in his life. Even if the encounter was awkward, he has never been awkward. He has the confidence of a young, ginger Matthew McConaughey. Why a young Matthew and not a current Matthew McConaughey? Ed was young, and I am convinced that no one in this world has the confidence of our current-day Matthew McConaughey. That man is the definition of a one-of-one, a unicorn, a fucking legend. I won’t continue my love for him here because we have more pressing matters. That of bowling and that of soup.
Unrelated, but also still Bowling For Soup related, I once saw a tweet that asked whether they were bowling to win or somehow acquire soup or bowling on behalf of soup, and I laughed out loud. I did a spit take and what was in my mouth? You guessed it, soup. Okay, that was a lie. I chuckled to myself, and I was not consuming soup at the time. Though soup is underrated.
We got a picture with him. I remember him being super nice about it. I will update this post with said picture once I find it. I am pretty sure I know where it it, but I am currently in California and only have my work computer with me.
But holy shit, I was/am so awkward. I am standing there so unnaturally that it looks like I have photoshopped myself into the picture. I still have this problem today. I don’t know how to stand in pictures and not have them turn out awkward. For an example take a look of this one of me on stage with my band circa March 2017. It looks like I have been superimposed on the picture. It also looks like I am not moving at all. I don’t know how this is possible to actually be present and it look like I have been photoshopped into a picture. I could not replicate this look if I even wanted to. (See below)
Anyway, that’s the story of how Ed and I met the lead singer of Bowling For Soup. Moral of the story: I can’t take pictures.
On to the original point of this post which I have done an absolutely terrible job of introducing: What would “1985” the song be today?
“1985” was released in 2004. The song tells the story of a burned-out Debbie who hates her life. She’s now middle-aged with a boring husband (A side note here: accountants get so much crap for being boring in pop culture. Even though it’s true, I feel we should lay off or be a little more creative in who we target for being boring.), two kids that probably call her Deborah and scream at her in public as they play their brand new Nintendo DS and listen to their also brand new iPod video. None of this stuff about the Nintendo DS and iPod video is in there. That't my own artistic interpretation given the year it was released.
It then talks about the things she was going to achieve in life. As I read the lyrics, it turns out Debbie wasn’t that aspirational. She wanted to be an actress, shake her ass on the hood of White Snake’s car, and hoped to get a hand on a member of Duran Duran. Like, even though the life she dreamed for herself was probably more exciting, I don’t actually think she’s better off in this alternate reality.
“1985” then just talks about all things 1985. I’m sure you know it, but here’s the lyrics of the chorus:
Bruce Springsteen, Madonna
Way before Nirvana
There was U2 and Blondie
And music still on M-T-V
Her two kids in high school
They tell her that she's uncool
'Cause she's still preoccupied
With 19, 19, 1985
There are also several references to significant movies of the time such as Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire. I’ve already been over some of the details of my love for these movies, but I am going to nitpick for a second here because Pretty In Pink actually came out in 1986. Get the facts right, Bowling For Soup. Goddamn. To round it out, the song also mentions about how reality TV has taken over and the definition of classic rock has drastically changed over the years.
Also, how the hell do you make a song about 1985 and leave out any and all references to one of the greatest movie franchises of all time in Back to the Future? Like is Bowling For Soup just not a fan of Back to the Future? If that’s the case, then we are not friends, and I really regret taking that picture 11 years ago.
Again, back to the point of this post. As I thought about this song, I started to wonder what would the equivalent be today? Bowling For Soup released the song in 2004, 19 years after 1985. If we go back 19 years, we get to the year 2002. If I were to write an incredibly nostalgic ode to the year 2002, what would it include? Like, no one would ever do this because it was 2002, but indulge me for a moment. Let me paint you a picture.
The early 2000s were a strange time. If you want a glimpse into what it was like, just check out the movie Ladybird. Or if you want to take less time and not see Timothée Chalamet be a huge douche, you can just read my quick synopsis below. As I did the research for this, I was blown away at some of the things that were popular in 2002.
For one, music. The obvious one to include here, even though she didn't release anything in 2002, would be Britney Spears. She was the queen of pop and still is #freebritney. But there are others that aren’t so obvious. The number one song on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 2002 was none other than Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me.” Holy crap, take me back to 2002, so I can be with my people. “Hot in Herre” by Nelly was #3, “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton at #6, and “In the End” by Linking Park at #7. Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” barely fell out of the top 10 at #11.
This was also a gigantic year for Ashanti apparently, who I, personally, barely have any recollection of besides her movie appearances in the most mid-2000s movies ever: Coach Carter (great movie), John Tucker Must Die (not so great movie), and A Muppet version of The Wizard of Oz (never seen it but I find that hilarious). If you’re a huge Ashanti fan, I’m sorry, but also why would an at-the-time ten-year-old white boy be well versed in Ashanti’s discography?
Other notable people in the 2002 Billboard Hot 100 are Usher, Eminem (The Eminem Show was released in 2002), Jennifer Lopez, Pink, John Mayer’s “No Such Thing,” Enrique Inglesias, and after all of this, I am realizing just how goddamn seemingly random this year was. I am glad I was 10 and not even close to an age in which I was forming my tastes. No wonder my older sister and brother turned out to be the weird individuals they are today. They couldn’t help it.
Looking through the list, the song where I’m like oh cool is “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, which unfortunately has been beaten more than any dead horse which leads me to say that I hope we can all agree that everyone, regardless of repetitiveness, should stop beating dead horses.
So, the musical references would in the song “2002” would have to deal with Britney Spear, Blink-182 (Take Off Your Pants and Jacket was released in 2001, and they were on top of the world at this point), lamenting the loss of NSYNC’s breakup in 2001, and hopefully some reference about this is how you remind me of what I really am. One can only hope. FYI, no Nickelback was listened to during the research of this post. Okay, maybe just a little.
Let’s move on to the next segment of pop culture references: movies. The top grossing movie in 2002 was Spider-Man starring Toby McGuire. Hell yeah, now we’re talking. #2 was Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones where so many of our Star Wars questions were answered like the origins of the Stormtroopers, Anakin’s slow decent to the dark side, and how much Anakin hates sand. I hate it too, man. Also, youth across the world had their sexual awakening seeing Natalie Portman in that movie. Rounding out the top three is Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Signs, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Ice Age, the live-action Scooby-Doo (incredibly iconic movie for the memes), Die Another Day, and The Bourne Identity also came out in 2002. So all in all, not a bad year for movies. However, most importantly, Reign of Fire, a fantastically terrible movie, came out this year. I would highly suggest anyone reading this post to go check this movie out. Warning: you’re in for a highly below average, wild ride.
Other cultural specific things that would be worth mentioning in 2002: Friends, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston dating, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez got engaged (big year for Jennifers), and a weird amount of patriotism after the US invaded Iraq post 9/11.
When I first did the math, I thought damn, 2002, I might have a hard time making culturally significant references for an entire song, but now I am just fascinated by the year 2002. What a wild time. I don’t think anyone will be rushing to be nostalgic for this incredibly mediocre time when baggy, low-ride pants were in, tight tops that were probably a size or two too small, rounding out the ‘fit with clunky shoes (which are sadly making a comeback) and a puka shell necklace. I might even get some bleached tips to go with it all.
At the end of the day, I think the point I’m trying to make is that it’s weird to be nostalgic for any given time. But goddamn it’s a little fun to tease the idea. If. I ever got a time machine, I wouldn’t use it for anything useful. I’d use it just like we use vacation. Just like we go to Europe to see the sites, I would go to 1985 to see Brat Pack movies in theaters, I’d go to 90s Seattle to experience grunge firsthand, and I’d go to 2002 to be incredibly confused about everything we considered to be culturally significant at the time. And maybe tell Ben and Jennifer that it’ll all work out 20 years later.
So, come here often?