Music Monday: The Forgotten Pop Songs of the Late 90s/Early 00s

I loved The Nerdy Girlie’s Boy Band edition of Music Monday last week that I kinda had to steal her idea. Ok, so stealing isn’t the right word, more like inspired. From time to time, I still go back and listen to songs from 5ive, BBMak, and SoulDecision, but their inclusion in Megan’s list got me thinking: What other songs did I used to listen as an impressionable young teen that might have been forgotten about or didn’t quite strike the same nostalgia chords as say an NSYNC or Backstreet Boys song did or for some reason weren’t quite as big a hit as I might have thought they were? I mean being Canadian, we got music that came out of the U.S., homegrown in Canada, and stuff from the U.K., so I’m not even sure if everyone has heard all of these songs. Oh well!

  1. Westlife, Swear It Again
  2. S Club 7, S Club Party – If you know this song, you love it. Don’t lie.
  3. All Saints, I Know Where It’s At
  4. MyTown, Party All Night – For the longest time, I didn’t realize that Danny and Mark from The Script used to be in this boy band. Like seriously. I couldn’t believe it and now I can’t help but giggle every time I listen to The Script.
  5. M2M, Mirror Mirror
  6. Eden’s Crush, Get Over Yourself – Hey, remember the first girl group Nicole Scherzinger was apart of?
  7. A-Teens, Upside Down
  8. Robyn, Show Me Love – Robyn is known as a dance artist these days, but when she first came on the scene, she was decidedly much more pop.
  9. 5ive, When the Lights Go Out – I had to include this song, if only so I can mention the music video. Now they had a video when the song was released in the UK but then they did another one for the US release…AND it featured Bethany Joy Lenz (aka Haley from One Tree Hill)!
  10. Jennifer Love Hewitt, How Do I Deal – When JLH tried her hand at singing. It wasn’t bad – and she did actually release a couple albums – it just wasn’t spectacular.
  11. Jennifer Paige, Crush – I legitimately loved this song, almost on par with Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn.
  12. Sugar Jones, Days Like That – Canada’s girl group that came out of the show Popstars, similar to how Eden’s Crush was created.
  13. Scene 23, I Really Don’t Think So – Hey, remember when Josh Henderson was in this pop group before becoming an actor?
  14. Willa Ford, I Wanna Be Bad
  15. Dream, He Loves U Not
  16. BBMak, Back Here – Because I still love this song. And it still totally holds up to this day.

Man, I could totally extend this list even more. But I won’t. This has been fun though, so I may have to do more Music Monday posts.

And for your listening pleasure, a Spotify playlist featuring (almost) all the songs!

Because even Spotify has its limits, I’ve included the videos for the missing songs below.

 

 

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NIKITA Recap: 4×06 “Canceled” + Final Thoughts on the Show

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Well here we are, at the end of the road. Nikita, one of the most underrated shows on television, has come to an end – and it was the perfect ending. It took me longer to get this post up because frankly, I was still reeling from all the emotions I had watching the episode, and just time to be able to sit down and type. So let’s start at the beginning of the episode.

We start off with a new flashback to when Nikita was first brought in to Division. After having attacked a guard twice her size, Nikita says she wants out, but Amanda tells her that she’ll come to learn that brute force will not beat deception. Amanda then asks Nikita who she wants to be: powerful and beautiful or a wild animal? We see another flashback with Michael suggesting Nikita be cancelled because she’s had four incidents in her first week at Division, deeming her to be dangerous, but Amanda sees potential in Nikita to be the best agent Division’s ever seen. Though Michael warns that if they can’t control her, she could be the one to destroy them all. To be fair, they ended up both being right.

With Ryan’s death last week (RIP Fletcher), it seems that Nikita has gone off the rails, with Alex helping her to take down The Group, starting with Mr. Jones who provided them with the names of the other members before being blown to bits. Senator Chappel has a field day when he learns that Nikita is going after The Group her way and not the “official” way – investigate, collect evidence…the standard boring stuff we see in typical cop procedurals. That does not work for Nikita, the character or the show. Though he hates to admit it, Michael (and Sam) actually agrees with Chappel that there is a right way to take down The Group, but this isn’t it; Birkhoff meanwhile, scoffs at Chappel, “Our government trained her to be an assassin…Look, if Nikita wants to take down the one percent of the one percent to zero, I say pull up a chair and pass the popcorn.” Chappel allows the boys off the base and go after Nikita. Except Slocum and his Marines have to join them.

When we get back to Amanda, she’s got a nasty scar – a departing gift from Ryan before he died. When she discusses matters with Trevor Adrian, he does what every other man she’s worked with does, and tells her to step away because she doesn’t know what she’s doing. He also essentially blames her for The Group’s undoing. But before cutting her out, Amanda did manage to convince Adrian to gather all the remaining Group members to make it harder for Nikita to find them. HA! You just helped her make it easier to take them all down Amanda. Soon enough, Amanda witnesses that Nikita and Alex have tied up the Group and feeding them the lethal neurotoxins, in order to get somebody to cough up the list of doubles.

Throughout the episode, we see Alex, Michael, Sam, each give their own talks to Nikita, trying to essentially talk her down the ledge. Alex brings it up that Nikita’s about to cross a line, that involves killing a whole bunch of people, after she’s been recognized as a hero. Sam channels his memories as Owen and talks about the time in London when he was ready to release the contents of the Black Box, but she talked him out of it. He says that if Owen was here, he’d tell her that she needs to trust the people she loves and that it’s not about her head, but her heart and soul. Then there’s Michael who pulls out the “I have nothing left. If you die…I die.” (And we all swoon and die.) When none of the talking works, Alex resorts to sparring with Nikita instead in order to stop her. But when Adrian finds an opportunity to shoot at them while they’re fighting, Nikita shoots back at all of the Group members.

After the Marines have captured Nikita, they ship her off to a supermax prison in Virginia, where she’s held down by some heavy duty restraints; unfortunately, Alex and Birkhoff (who against orders downloaded the doubles list onto a cloud server) join her in prison. We come to learn that Slocum has been working with Amanda when she shows her scarred face in Nikita’s cell. Amanda comes in to thank Nikita for giving her a new life and reminds her that they both came from abusive homes, but have managed to rise above it. But joke’s on Amanda, as Nikita gets released from her restraints and puts Amanda in them instead. Turns out it was all a ruse to make Amanda think that Nikita had gone off the rails and released the monster inside of her, that she had chosen brute force over deception. Nikita had only temporarily put down all the members of The Group and put on a show for Amanda at Adrian’s house; The Doubles arc closes down with Michael and Sam releasing the originals who were doubled. It was thanks to Ryan’s last words that Nikita knew Slocum was a double, and though she wanted to kill everybody and rip Amanda to bits, she owed it to her family for reminding her that she’s better than that. So Nikita finally gets to deceive Amanda once and for all and bestow Amanda a fate worse than death: life alone in the basement as Helen.

As we got into the final minutes of the episodes, we find out everybody gets their own happy ending. Ryan is honoured with a star on the CIA’s wall of fallen agents. Alex resumes her role as Alexandra Udinov, with Sam now her bodyguard and more. Birkhoff releases Shadownet to the world (reminds me of the movie Antitrust) and settles in for a life with Sonya (Lyndie was sadly missing from the episode because she was too busy kicking ass on Sleepy Hollow). Nikita and Michael? Well they eloped and are having some wedded bliss on a beach in Ecuador. As Nikita says in her voiceover, “The real gift isn’t freedom, it’s what we do with it. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t just sit on a beach anyways.” With that, we see the newlyweds run off and spend their honeymoon going after a guy who was trying to push a kid into becoming a soldier.

It was as perfect an ending as any fan could hope for considering the circumstances. I read the interviews with Craig Silverstein by Meg Masters of TVLine and Eric Goldman of IGN discussing what happened in the finale, what could have been, what they wanted to do but didn’t have time for, etc., and really at the end of it all, I’m just really happy/satisfied with how things ended. Sure, it would have been nice to delve into Nikita’s backstory and parents, prior to going into the foster system and wish that the season was longer so everything could have been fleshed out more, but they ended things on a spectacular note.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What else can I say about this show that I haven’t already in my letter to the cast back in March or my write-up when the cast wrapped in October. Nikita has always been an underrated show that deserved so much more than it did. It’s one of the first adult-skewing shows on The CW, something that went beyond the typical teen angst that the network needed in order to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, being the first also means that the network wasn’t particularly sure of how to market the show. But without all the teen angst and a big dose of action, it paved the way for the network to take chances on other shows that weren’t its typical type like Arrow. Granted, Arrow has the added bonus of being a known entity, it also had its own pressures to contend with. Regardless, Nikita was a trailblazer for the network, and you can’t help but wonder what could have been had the show been on a different network (I’m thinking cable because I’m not sure any of the other broadcast networks would be any better – except maybe FOX).

What may be its enduring legacy, besides being underrated and perennially on the bubble, is what it did for females on television. First and foremost, Nikita gave us the first Asian-American female lead of a TV show in Maggie Q. If Maggie ever decides to do another TV show, I would not want her to be some supporting character that isn’t given a lot to do; she’s come so far from doing/being this character that being anything less than that would just be wrong. Second, the ultimate big bad of the series ended up being Melinda Clarke’s Amanda, a woman who was severely underestimated by every one of her male counterparts, but proved to be a crazy adversary for our hero. Lastly, the show gave us a central relationship between two females, Nikita and Alex, who spent more time working together kicking-ass and taking down the bad guys than talking about their love life or fighting over a guy. The typical gender roles were pretty much flipped when in actuality, Nikita and Alex saved the men in their lives more often, bucking the usual “damsels-in-distress” that need saving. What’s truly amazing is that all these women (along with Sonya) were layered characters. They were not defined by any one trait or by their men. They were fully realized characters – smart, good at what they do, flawed, emotional, and of course beautiful in every way – everything a woman is and how they should be represented on TV.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: THANK YOU to everybody involved with the show from the beginning up until the very end, who helped make this incredible show that was underappreciated. The producers and writers – Craig Silverstein, Albert Kim, Carlos Coto, Marc David Alpert, Kristen Reidel, Oliver Grigsby, Terry Matalas, Travis Fickett, and everybody else I missed – you are all amazingly talented and the work you put in to making this show what it is does not go unnoticed by those of us who did watch the show throughout its run. The actors – Maggie, Lyndsy, Melinda, Lyndie, Shane West, Aaron Stanford, Noah Bean, Devon Sawa, Dillon Casey, Xander Berkeley, Ashton Holmes, Tiffany Hines, Peter Outerbridge, and all the guest stars over the years – you brought these characters to life and worked so hard, I will forever be in awe of everything that you did.

I wish all these amazingly wonderful people nothing but the best in their future endeavors and projects. Whether it be, Craig Silverstein’s period spy drama Turn; Matalas and Fickett teaming up and reuniting with Aaron and Noah on Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, alongside Amanda Schull and Kirk Acevedo; Shane and Xander working together on WGN America’s Salem (with Seth Gabel and Janet Montgomery); Maggie and Lyndsy with their films, Divergent & The Conspiracy on Jekyll Island (Maggie) and Moments of Clarity (Lyndsy); Lyndie continuing on in Sleepy Hollow; Dillon with his new series Remedy; or Albert Kim’s drama in development at The CW with Eva Longoria’s production company, I look forward to whatever they do in the future. They all deserve great success.

Again, thanks for all the memories and four seasons of awesome! I will miss this show dearly.

Nikita Cast @ SDCC 2013. Even though I didn't get to formally meet them and get a picture with them, they made my first trip to SDCC worth every penny.

Nikita Cast @ SDCC 2013. Even though I didn’t get to formally meet them and get a picture with them, sitting less than 10 feet away from them at the show’s final panel made my first trip to SDCC worth everything.

The Now + Then of Music

It’s a subject that I often think about, most often when listening to the radio, and that’s how music has changed over the years. I’m a person who doesn’t particularly like listening to the radio, but seeing how part of my job involves driving around everywhere in a car that isn’t mine, I’m forced to listen to the radio. Honestly, my dislike of listening to the radio really has more to do with my frustrations with it. A lot of the more popular stations in my area (and I’m sure this applies in a lot of places) seem to play the same songs over and over again. This summer, I consider it a good day/drive if I didn’t have to hear a song featuring any one of the following artists – Pitbull, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, LMFAO, Rihanna…the list could go on, but the point is my idea of a good day has been rare. Also, you know it’s a bad thing when the radio can turn a song from one of your favourite artists and make you not like it because of the song being overplayed – in this case, it’s Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” The last time this happened was when Sara Bareilles was hitting it big with “Love Song” and everyone was playing it. It was a lengthy amount of time before I could actually listen to that song again.

I’m very well aware that the radio stations I choose to listen to are the popular ones, so they will be playing a lot of Top 40 stuff. At the same time, is it too much to ask for a variety of songs? I find it kind of sad that I have to listen to a radio station from Buffalo (if I can pick up the signal) to get an actually good variety of music. When I can actually pick up the signal for this station (Star 102.5), I get to hear, for example, Colbie Caillat, Sara Bareilles, Matt Nathanson. And it’s not just the songs that they’re famous for (“Bubbly,” “Love Song,” “Come on Get Higher” respectively) but their newer songs (“Brighter Than the Sun, ” “Uncharted,” “Faster”)! Of the more popular stations in this area, if I had to choose, I would listen to CHUM 104.5 and Magic 106.1 more often than 91.5 The Beat, Z103.5, and Virgin 99.9 because they give me a slightly better variety of music. Sure they’ll play the Top 40 stuff, but they also play older songs, which I appreciate.

Yes, this is all preference and people’s definition of what is considered good music varies; this is strictly my opinion, my thoughts. Fact of the matter is, these stations that play a better variety of music, both old and new music, gets me thinking about the songs I grew up with, because these stations plays those songs.

I’m 23 now, and if I look back on the past 10-15 years of music, and compare it to now, I would much prefer listening to the older songs. If you really think about it, the early 2000s were great years for music. We can laugh about the whole boy band thing that started in the 90s and continued on, but you can’t tell me that an album like NSYNC’s “Celebrity” doesn’t hold up today. You listen to some of the singles off that album (“Gone”, “Girlfriend”) and you can still hear it on the radio today. If we want to talk R&B, I would gladly listen to Usher’s “My Way” and “You Make Me Wanna” over his newer stuff. I would pick Aaliyah over anything these days. Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy” over “Run The World (Girls).”

Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve never been particularly fond of the dance music genre, but I look at the songs from back then (making it seem like it was THAT long ago, but it kind of wasn’t) and they seem to have a timeless quality to it as opposed to a lot of songs these days. These songs come on the radio and I still enjoy it as I did 10 years ago. I could just be cynical, but I can’t imagine the popular songs of today, holding up well, and still be good 10 years from now. With a lot of artists these days trying to make dance music, it feels almost dated. It’s a little hard to explain. All I know is that, now more than ever, I love and appreciate the artists who write music with meaning and heart, and they really try to make good music and not just follow what’s popular. Don’t get me wrong, I get that every artist wants to grow and experiment with new sounds at some point. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with sticking with what you know, what you do best, and showing what you’ve learned through your songwriting.

Music, like everything else, goes through cycles. So maybe right now, we’re in a little bit of a lull. And while a sizable group of popular artists are trying to make a dance record/album/song or trying to make everything a big spectacle, others are falling through the cracks of people’s consciousness, despite releasing albums with great music/songwriting/intentions. And honestly, this really just goes back to my longstanding wish that more artists get the recognition they deserve. Plus hopes that I can turn on the radio and not hear the same 10 songs or so, ALL THE FREAKIN’ TIME.

Rant over? For now…