Whether you were into grunge or were more of a Spice Girls fan, the '90s was the perfect decade to show off your personal aesthetic through your music of choice. Like a fine wine, '90s music could be paired perfectly with its matching clothes aesthetic to let everyone, far and wide, know which subculture you identified with. Whether you were rockin' JNCOs, Bongos, Esprit, or some other bomb brand that sadly no longer exists, your look somehow perfectly summed up your taste in music, and high school in the '90s was a visual phylogenetic tree of teens saying something about themselves in the melodies filtering through their Walkmans and the fit of the jeans adorning their bodies.
Like music in any era, the best '90s songs gave voice to feelings and experiences that were beyond language. But, in something a lot like alchemy, a classic '90s song could take you in and transform you into an entirely new being, one who just felt gotten.
Your Outfit While You Listen: The same flannel shirt you wore everyday of the past year over a band t-shirt, Levis with the ripped up bottoms, and a pair of scuffed-up Converse
Why It Speaks To You: Kurt Cobain is a true warrior poet like you long to be. His lyrics may sound like marble-mouthed nonsense to the rest of the world, but you understand that their oblique nature is essential to their enjoyment. You can't hear that opening riff without feeling like this band just gets you.
Your Outfit While You Listen: Dickies work pants, a cardigan from Goodwill over an old shirt, and a pair of black and white Vans Eras
Why It Speaks To You: You may spend your weekends skateboarding in the Taco Bell parking lot, but that doesn't mean you're not sensitive. The guys in Green Day totally get what it means to be a punk with the soul of a poet. It doesn't matter if you never learn how to kickflip, as long as you're singing along with your bros.
Your Outfit While You Listen: A midriff exposing white tank top, bleached blonde hair in a finger wave, plaid pants, and suspenders that may or may not serve a purpose
Why It Speaks To You: Gwen Stefani has been there; she understands what it's like to have her heart crushed by someone that she has to talk to every day, just like you and Eric. How can he think it's okay to break it off with you to start dating Tiffany and still have the audacity to ask if you can stay lab partners? The freedom of off-campus lunch may not be enough to dull your pain, but at least singing along with Stefani as she croons, "Don't tell me 'cause it hurts" makes you feel something.
#57 on The Best 90s Music Videos
"Give It Away" By Red Hot Chili Peppers
Your Outfit While You Listen: A pair of cut-off, baggy cargo shorts over a pair of baggy Joe Boxers, a basketball jersey, and a pair of Airwalk Sorrys. You topped it off with a baseball cap – backwards, duh – because who has time to comb their hair when life is a party?
Why It Speaks To You: Until you heard "Give It Away," you didn't know how to get out your nascent, hormone-fueled sex thoughts. You don't actually have any idea what Anthony Kiedis was singing about, let alone what he was actually saying, but that doesn't stop you from rap-mumbling along at top volume until your mom tells you to turn it down. But, mom, Bob Marley was a poet and a prophet, and that's worth remembering.