10 Unintentionally Patriotic ’90s Videos
The alt-rock era overlapped with a very patriotic — indeed, a very American — stretch of our history. Think about it: In the first few years of the ’90s, we had a president, George H.W. Bush, that went desert stormin’ into Iraq with missiles called “Patriots” in tow. From ’95 on, we had one William Jefferson Clinton, who played the saxophone — long a hallmark of American music — screwed around (literally) on the job and launched a few missiles of his own. You might argue that some of that brash Americanism manifested itself in the rock music of the day, and on this 4th of July, we’re hitting you with 10 Unintentionally Patriotic ’90s Videos.
We begin with ‘So Alive’ (1989) by the British band Love and Rockets because, well, what’s better to remember on Independence Day weekend than the fact that, with a lotta love and a bunch of red rockets aglare, we demolished the oppressor that was England. We eventually became the strongest nation in the world — and alive, so alive.
This odd little ditty from 1996 — possibly about another p-word (let your imagination wander) — had to make our list. For starters, it’s by a group called the Presidents of the United States of America. Beyond that, we love how it’s about a Main Street peach manufacturer — it’s just so damned American.
“Black Hole Sun”
Soundgarden‘s “Black Hole Sun” has one of the most disturbing videos in the history of recorded song. But if you actually take a few minutes and watch it, you’ll realize that it’s a vision (however distorted) of suburban American life. Nothing says “summer” and “Independence Day weekend” like kids burning bugs to death with magnifying glasses!
“Make War (Not Love)”
We think our brothers over at Noisecreep would agree that this nugget from 1994 is an apt addition to this list. Despite it probably being tongue-in-cheek, it could easily be a rallying cry for non-liberals who feel that bellicosity is the only way to show one’s red-white-and-blue stripes. The album that the song appears on is surprisingly alternative for the time — one of the tracks features Ice-T, an early nod to rap-rock. Thank us later when you’re screaming this at the top of your lungs in your den.
“Bulls on Parade”
We’re sure the anti-authoritarian Rage Against the Machine didn’t write ‘Bulls on Parade’ with America in mind. Nevertheless, we can imagine some white-wigged, blue-coated general in the American Revolution rallying his troops together with a pocket full of (musket) shells. And then blowing away multiple Red Coats.
The “cannonball” in this Breeders hit from the ‘90s is, without a doubt, an object of the narrator’s affection. But it makes us think of all the deadly lead orbs shot back and forth between us and the British during our run for independence.
We’re putting British alternative powerhouse Oasis’ ode to egomania on this list, because, well, the Brits can live for as long as they damn well please, but we’re free now, and we didn’t even have to paint ourselves blue to prove it. FREEDOM!!!
“Shiny Happy People”
Some people might argue that “Shiny Happy People” is one of the most annoying songs ever written, but we’d say, “Stop being so negative.” It’s one of those unabashedly friendly songs about people being nice and “holding hands,” something that Europeans might like to think Americans are bad at, but in fact, we’re actually awesome at. You can’t get more patriotic than that, right?
Now we’re well aware that the Foo Fighters’ “My Hero” is probably about Kurt Cobain (or somebody like him), but we’ve always listened to this song as an ode to the everyman, that guy who just kills it as he glides in “stealth mode” through life. This one’s for all the 18th-century American soldiers that left their wives behind and went after British troops with bayonets, muskets and grit you just don’t see anymore.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit”
What’s more American/patriotic than a high school dance complete with cheerleaders and Nirvana as the house band? (Yeah, we didn’t think you had an answer.)