2018 Was the Best 1994 Since... Well... 1994

We're still deep in the throes of some serious mid-90s nostalgia.

by Alia Marsha
28 December 2018, 7:14pm

Illustration by Adam Noor

By the end of 2017, I was convinced that we, the collective members of this Earth, would finally be finished with nostalgia when the calendar hit Jan. 1. There were plenty of nicely-done appreciations of the old days, like Stranger Things, the It remake, and the amount of crop tops magically reappearing in every woman’s closet. But last year, our insistence of nostalgia unfortunately also brought us the Dirty Dancing remake, The Mummy remake, and “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled. Gag.

But now, as 2018 draws to a close, I realized that I was a fool. No, of course we’re not done with throwbacks. This year, our fixation with the 1990s hit even stronger than before. People have multiple explanations as to why this happens, but honestly, sometimes the answer just isn't all that deep. The 90s were cool as hell (I mean, I remember jack shit from the decade, but pop culture tells me everyday how amazing it was and I believe it). Looking back, I’ve got to say, 2018 we had a pretty good extra year of the mid-90s, sorta like 1994 II, the sequel.


Bruno Mars is a talented performer, and sometimes I go on YouTube on my phone and jam to “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Versace On the Floor” before I frantically delete my history. exit the app, and replay Frank Ocean’s Blond to cleanse myself of my sins.

But you have to admit that his January hit “Finesse” featuring Cardi B and its music video is important in contemporary music history because it kicked-off what would be a whole year of 90s throwbacks in music. The baggy T-shirts, the booty shorts, the big hoops! The video is a nod to In Living Color, a variety show that was similar to Saturday Night Live, but better, in my biased opinion, because there were way more people of color in it.

Next, we have the Charli XCX and Troye Sivan single “1999”, which was released in October and is a more straightforward longing of a time where everything was simpler. They sing, “I just wanna go back, back to 1999 / Take a ride to my old neighborhood / I just wanna go back, sing, 'hit me, baby, one more time' / Wanna go back, wanna go,” because maybe pop culture peaked in the 90s?

At least one other pop song on my radar that came out this year referenced Britney Spears’ 1998 game changer "...Baby One More Time" and that’s Anne-Marie’s “2002," in which she talks about being 11 and drinking from plastic cups.

Even Brockhampton, the forward-thinking, social justice-conscious rap group that’s become sort of an antidote to the stereotypically violent image of 90s hip-hop (they prefer the label “boy band”), couldn’t help but show their appreciation for the decade. In July, in their Beats 1 show The Things We Lost in a Fire, the group released a handful of songs named after some of their favorite films released in the 90s, including “1997 DIANA”, “1998 TRUMAN” and “1999 WILDFIRE”.


One way to tell that we’re in a full 90s nostalgia swing is that Jonah Hill made a movie literally called Mid90s where everyone's period-perfect outfits look exactly like popular styles today. This coming-of-age film is about how it felt growing up in 90s LA for a group of skaters, and as far as I can tell, the film hasn’t seriously pissed off skaters yet, which is pretty good.

For the film, the cast (who are real-life skaters) reportedly looked through old skate magazines and videos, and wore only T-shirts made before 1995. Then again, every skater I know does this pretty much on a daily basis, so maybe Mid90s got it perfectly right because it’s hard not to.

Around the same time Mid90s is supposed to take place, but on the other side of the globe, self-proclaimed weird chick Sandi Tan made a road movie with her friends, her neighbors, and one manipulative older man named Georges Cardona in Singapore. The movie was called Shirkers, and its debut last October was 20 years too late because Cardona, who was 20 something years older than the rest of the crew, stole the 70 rolls of film that the young women poured all of their hearts and savings into decades ago.

In 2011, years after he died, his ex-wife contacted Tan, and the result was a heartbreaking documentary of a film that never was and also a precious time capsule of a Singapore before the kind of wealth you see in Crazy Rich Asians even existed. More than just a film about remembering the past, Shirkers is about the frustration of having your past stolen from you.

Meanwhile In Indonesia, Dilan 1990, a high school love story set in 1990 broke the country’s box office records. I fell asleep watching this in the theater, but I totally understand how the formula works. A feel-good romance story between young people + an “oldies” backdrop = a big hit in Indonesia. And why not, it’s a tried and true formula! A sequel is in the works right now, meaning that like it or not, we’re definitely getting another 90s movie next year.


Ah, the fanny pack (or the bum bag if you went to school in Australia), had a brief moment in 2018 before slowly, surely, burning itself out. Like a star that just burned too bright, the fanny pack, once a staple of the middle-aged dad / slash / high socks tourist crowd re-emerged as a piece of high fashion.

2018 was a year where everybody from Karl Lagerfeld to Rihanna to Supreme had their own version of this once hated accessory. As for myself, I spent $90 USD on an Opening Ceremony fanny pack, because, you know, the fashion industry made a convincing argument and I’m a gullible consumer.

2018 also saw a comeback of those tiny, tinted sunglasses, tracksuits, chunky sneakers that were previously worn only by nurses and Steve Carell’s character in Crazy, Stupid, Love. People also started wearing big plaid patterns again this year, which is pretty surprising because I thought we had forever banned that after that Iggy Azalea music video for the abomination that is the song “Fancy” hit back in 2014. Bucket hats are also officially cool again, but my hope is that we’ll never go as low again as we did in 2015 with those weed-printed ones.

So are we ever going to get over the 1990s? Probably. But only when the 2000s nostalgia kicks in (oh, hello, denim everything).

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.