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Noise of summer

Summer jams that show how the 1990s made us dumber

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Illustration by Justin Rose


1991: Naughty by Nature, 


Sure, it earns a smile by biting its melody line from the Jackson 5's "ABC," and contains a surprisingly engaging rap about guys and girls in committed relationships stepping out to get some strange, with a plain-rappin' charm similar to Young MC. That said, this song should be damned just for every arm-waving fool who not only claimed to be "Down with OPP" but bought the "Down with OPP" ball cap to prove it. Which is a shame, because it's actually not guilty of some of the later excesses of '90s summer jams — it's just that the chorus sank the national IQ about 10 points on its own.


1992: House of Pain, 

"Jump Around"

A catchy tune with what must be the cleverest sample from Prince ever. Too bad it has typical tough-guy lyrics from white dude Everlast, frontin' about himself. But that was normal in '90s rap. The real flaw of the song is the jump-line chorus, which made this one of the first rap songs to go totally jock jam. Perhaps chromosome-damaged sports fans couldn't remember the lyrics to "Jump" by the Pointer Sisters or Van Halen, so House of Pain had to give them something they could remember, lyrics dialed down to a 5-year-old reading comprehension level: "Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!" 

1993: Tag Team, 

"Whoomp! (There It Is)"

Oh, man. Down we go. This song is so idiotic, it makes that same year's hit from Haddaway, "What is Love? (Baby, Don't Hurt Me)," sound as classy as Sinatra. Instead of a crooning, spine-tingling plea to an estranged lover, we get extra helpings of shak-a-laka and raps about finding a honey to dip it in. And people shouting "Whoomph"? If you're so young you were still suckin' on a push pop through all this, check out some old YouTube clips of The Arsenio Hall Show and despair that woofin' and throwin' the arm was ever an acceptable gesture. It was only 1993 and yet, clearly, America had already lost its mind.


1994: Reel 2 Real, 

"I Like to Move It "

These New Yorkers produced a dancehall track with lyrics about watching girls move their bodies. Hey, the Mad Stuntman isn't that bad, but again, it's the insistence of the chorus, the knock-you-over-the-head repetition of it, not to mention the silly synth line. Seven. Words. Over. And. Over. All. Summer.