According to some, spending too much time at an airport before a flight is the worst fate one can suffer. Unless you’re talking to me, because airports are some of my favorite places in the world. If you have ever had the same glorious opportunity of spending four hours in an airport before a flight, you probably also know that airports prompt some questionable choices concerning food, newsstand purchases, and also, music. This is probably because (aside from the ones specified by TSA) all rules are off in airports. You can be whoever you want to be. For me, I find unexpected solace in a Chili’s and I revert back to the late-90s early-2000s to say hello to my not-forgotten imaginary boyfriends, Howie Day, Shawn Mullins, and all members of The Wallflowers. There’s no way to prove that I’ve been listening to them on rotation for three hours straight except for ungodly rankings on my Top 25 Most Played playlist (thanks for this honor, iTunes. I would like to thank not only God, but also Jesus).
“Collide” by Howie Day. I was nine when this song came out in 2003 and, I’ll admit it, I referred to it as the “doo doooo dooo doo” song until I was probably sixteen. What made “Collide” one of my go-to songs for as long as it’s been is the simplicity of it. While we seem to have grown tired of the four-chord song, there’s a reason why it works every time. Add Howie Day’s vocals over them and you’ve got a massive tune. Personally, late-90s early-2000s love songs are the best ones because they don’t go out of their way to do anything crazy, detracting from the message of the song. There are no unnecessary metaphors, no innuendo, it’s just a sweet song that will always spark the classic “Oh my god, I love this song!!!” comment from anyone who hasn’t heard it in a while. The simplicity of the song lent to its popularity on mainstream radio, which goes to show that things don’t need to be muddled in order to get recognition.
“Lullaby” by Shawn Mullins. This song was always just so cool. It gained a huge amount of popularity without doing anything particularly showy, which I love. With Shawn Mullins brooding over this unhappy girl who he’s trying to reassure and cheer up, he paints an incredible picture of her background, her life, and her current state. It’s hard to do this spoken-word song without making it sound disconnected or even like a carbon copy of the original. For example, when I first heard Jake Owen’s summer hit “Beachin”, it immediately stood out as a poor attempt to countrify the original. “Lullaby”serves as an example that it stands uncontested in its genre, despite 16 years of artists attempting to put their own spin on it.
“One Headlight” by The Wallflowers. I have distinct memories of singing (more accurately, screeching) along to this song when I was four. If “Collide” was the “doo doooo dooo doo” song, then “One Headlight” was the “hey heyy heyyyyy”song. Jakob Dylan transports listeners to a different time and place with his unmistakable croon. Like his dad, Bob Dylan, no one could begin to replicate his voice. Nowadays, things are far too overdone, forcing listeners to anticipate solely the solos and divert attention from the song as a whole. There’s nothing particularly showy about the music, besides the amazing production of the song itself, but it demonstrates that guitar solos need not be over-the-top in order to both enhance and blend in with the song.
If nothing else, these songs take us back to better musical times. It makes you wish these artists hadn’t run their course so that they could’ve had an impact on today’s rapidly deteriorating mainstream music. It was a time when musicians didn’t need to shield their feelings behind countless indecipherable metaphors and euphemisms (I still don’t know what a“milkshake” is in Kelis’ mind). The next time you’re stuck (read: graced with the opportunity of being) in the airport (or really anywhere that makes you stay still) for an extended period of time, I implore you to also take a trip back to the good days when things were simple and, if men were crooning, it was about things that mattered.