Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


The Vengaboys: a critical reappraisal

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.

October 18th, 2010.

10 Responses to “The Vengaboys: a critical reappraisal”

  1. Ponyo Says:

    I remember this article as though it were yesterday.

    Seriously though, fuck nostalgia, school was shite and I had no brain

  2. Dermot Says:

    Eh, Spin Doctors WERE totally inspirational artists….

  3. Eoin Says:

    @ Dermot – Hmm… I dunno. But then again, I make a point of not disagreeing with people who could have me killed.

  4. demure lemur Says:

    Yeah, and 4 Non Blondes are some decent pop-rock. (I can have you killed.)

  5. Eoin Says:

    @ Demure – Dermot is in the French Foreign Legion. How would you have me killed? I’m imagining some deal like the Bond girl who kills with her thighs…

  6. Paul Says:

    The Nineties were unbelievably shit. I started them liking hip-hop until hip-hop (apart from the cartoonish likes of Dr Octagon or the Geto Boys) soon became unlistenable crap. After that it was all bluegrass from 1923 for me, until the next decent musical movement came along… which was the White Stripes, who were obviously listening to bluegrass from 1923 too. Anyway, fuck a bunch of the ’90s, good riddance to them.

  7. demure lemur Says:

    I would give you further information on you how I plan to have you killed Mr. Butler, but it would only ruin the surprise.

  8. Eoin Says:

    I’ll look forward to it so. Be gentle please.

  9. raptureponies Says:

    Oh Jesus, it’s easy to get sucked into the nostalgia bubble: all I can think about are scrunchies and three stripe tracksuit pants.

  10. Eoin Says:

    You shoulda done that radio show then, I think that’s what they were looking for!

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