Attention wedding DJs, office party organisers and hack journalists. A Nineties revival as wearily predictable as day following night, or Mayo bricking it in Croke Park, is soon to be unleashed. The other day some radio station called to ask if I’d like to come in and reminisce about what a wild and crazy decade the Nineties were. Dear God, wouldn’t it be easier if we just slit our wrists now and were done with it?
This is The Nostalgia Treadmill. That is the phenomenon whereby popular culture constantly venerates the decade-before-last as some sort of lost golden age. Think about it. The sitcom Happy Days – which sentimentalised socially oppressive and conformity-obsessed 1950s – was made in the 1970s. That ‘70s Show debuted in the 1990s. So where does the impetus for this Nineties revival come from? It comes, first of all, from the generation for whom Blur v Oasis was Vietnam. We’re approaching our thirties now and struggling with the responsibilities of mortgages and parenthood. Shamelessly wallowing in nostalgia for our lost youth is obviously pathetic. But give it time. You’ll come around.
Better still, a generation of kids have grown up who have no idea who Boris Yeltsin or Monica Lewinsky were. They’re young and impressionable and, with a little rewriting of history, should prove amenable to the bogus notion that The Spice Girls and the Vengaboys were iconic cultural touchstones of a calibre rarely seen since.
Think that sounds like a hard sell? Witness the Eighties revival currently raging. Pop singer La Roux, born in 1988, has given interviews in which she’s spoken of George Michael’s execrable Careless Whisper as a timeless classic. How long before some even younger starlet is bleating about how the Spin Doctors or 4 Non Blondes were, like, totally inspiration artists?
Personally, I hated the Nineties. I lived in a small town where the DJ at our teenage discos played 2Unlimited tracks without fail, where couples slow-danced to Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters and where my friends once accused me of pretending not to like Meatloaf’s I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) in order to seem different. They genuinely refused to believe that I wasn’t a fan.
So forget about nostalgia for our lost youth. Being an adult is infinitely preferable to being a teenager. I’ve never seen a single episode of X Factor in my life. Whoever Meatloaf’s contemporary equivalent is, he does not encroach on my life in the slightest. If something comes on the radio that I don’t like, I just change the channel. It’s my house. I’m the boss.