It’s a wonderful, semi-magical feeling when you discover a new song that really strikes a chord with you; a song that instantly becomes your loyal “feel good” song, or speaks volumes with how you’re feeling at that exact moment in your life.
But what’s even better than discovering new music, is rediscovering music you once knew. There’s nothing like being able to recall and recite the lyrics to a song you first heard when you were 10 years old.
What makes rediscovering old music so grand is you not only have an album of memories already associated with a certain track and its lyrics, but you’re also able to hear it differently now that you’re older.
Rediscovering old music is exciting. It isn’t just the realization that you religiously listened to it through the speakers of the childhood community swimming pool where you spent your summers, but it's also the fact that the nostalgia brings with it a sense of clarity.
As you listen to that same song years later, you hear it much differently now than you did then. For the first time, you really hear the lyrics and understand the meaning for what they are.
As a child, most songs were just catchy rhymes you knew the words to. You more than likely engaged in little to no introspection as you belted out the lyrics to “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.
But, as an adult, you hear beyond the guitar riffs and boisterous vocals; you actually digest the lyrics and their meaning. You’re capable of giving them a place within your life, making a connection to your own reality.
You can now empathize with bittersweet break-up lyrics after having your heart broken. You understand the chaos of the world and why Lenny Kravitz desperately desired an otherworldly escape.
As you rediscover these songs at a later chapter in your life, they aren’t just songs you memorized as a child and proudly belted out in the car. The lyrics have meaning as you hear them at this more mature stage.
For me, the best part of listening to songs from my youth (the 90s and early 2000s) is the fact that hearing them is like revisiting a childhood friend I looked up to; someone older and wiser who was always one step ahead of me in life.
I may have heard these songs thousands of times as a child, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I heard the lyrical advice they were giving me through the radio.
After rediscovering several songs from the 90s and early 2000s era, I’m here to share with you some of the best. Just call me a musical medium: I’m about to give you a spiritual awakening on music from the past.
Here are 22 songs from the 90s and early 2000s with the best lyrical advice:
1. “Heal The World” by Michael Jackson (1991)
“Heal the world, make it a better place for you and me and the entire human race. There are people dying; if you care enough for the living, make a better place for you and me.”
Advice: Take care of all of humanity and the precious world around us. Don’t cause harm to the world and its inhabitants; make it a better place for all of us instead.
2. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. (1992)
“When you're sure you've had enough of this life, well, hang on. Don't let yourself go, 'cause everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes. “
Advice: Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Showing emotion doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.
3. “The Sign” by Ace of Base (1993)
“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign. No one's gonna drag you up, to get into the light where you belong.”
Advice: You’re the only one who can save yourself from an unhealthy/unfulfilling relationship. Be your own savior and know when to end a relationship that’s taking away the light from your life.
4. “You Gotta Be” by Des’ree (1994)
“You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser. You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger.”
Advice: Always challenge yourself to be a better version of yourself. Don’t let self-doubt get in the way of believing in yourself and doing all that you’re capable of.
5. “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette (1995)
“You live, you learn. You love, you learn. You cry, you learn. You lose, you learn. You bleed, you learn. You scream, you learn.”
Advice: Life is a learning process. Wisdom comes from every experience.
6. "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day (1997)
“So take the photographs and still frames in your mind. Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time. Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial. For what it's worth, it was worth all the while.”
Advice: It’s okay to reminisce about a past relationship. Just don’t live in it. Let bygones be bygones.
7. "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba (1997)
“I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down.”
Advice: Despite this song having obscure meanings about getting drunk and protesting politicians, the lyrics contain good advice. Do not give up on what you believe in and put up a fight for it.
8. "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals (1998)
“Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live. Can’t forget, we only get what we give.”
Advice: Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams. For something worth having, there is no such thing as wasted effort.
9. "I Believe" by R. Kelly (1998)
“If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it.”
Advice: Recognize your courage and your strength. The ability to achieve something comes from within yourself. Once you believe you can do it, you’ll succeed.
10. "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz (1998)
“Let's fade into the sun. Let your spirit fly where we are one, just for a little fun.”
Advice: Sometimes you need to release your worries and take an out-of-this-world vacation, or have a little fun. It’s necessary to escape the chaos of the world every now and then.
11. "What It’s Like" by Everlast (1998)
“God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes. 'Cause then you really might know what it's like to sing the blues.”
Advice: Don’t be quick to judge others without first taking a walk in their shoes. We’re all individuals who come from different walks of life. Love more, hate less.
12. "Drive" by Incubus (1999)
“Lately I'm beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel. Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there, with open arms and open eyes, yeah."
Advice: You’re the pilot of your own life. Keep an open mind to all the new and exciting opportunities this world has to offer.
13. "It’s My Life" by Bon Jovi (2000)
“It's my life, it’s now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just want to live while I'm alive.”
Advice: Before there was YOLO, there was Bon Jovi telling you to live it up while you can.
14. "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World (2001)
“Hey, don't write yourself off yet. It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on. Just do your best (just do your best), do everything you can. And don't you worry what the bitter hearts are gonna say.”
Advice: Be yourself and do your best in everything you do! There will always be critics, so just smile and throw your middle finger up to all the haters and nay-sayers.
15. "Try Again" by Aaliyah (2001)
“If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again.”
Advice: If you really want something, you might have to try (and fail) a few times before you get it.
16. "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera (2002)
“You are beautiful, no matter what they say.”
Advice: Don’t ever belittle your own beauty due to the cruel words of another.
17. "Big Yellow Taxi" by Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton (2002)
“Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Advice: The lesson is simple in this one: Appreciate what you have while you have it.
18. "The Anthem" by Good Charlotte (2002)
“I’m gonna get by and just do my time. Out of step, while they all get in line.”
Advice: Don’t be a sheep in society. March to the beat of your own drum.
19. "Take Tomorrow" by Butch Walker (2002)
“Give me all your fear, throw it all away. And think about the good things, no matter what they say. We'll take tomorrow baby, yeah, one day at a time.”
Advice: Seize the day!
20. "Breathe" by Michelle Branch (2003)
“If I just breathe, let it fill the space between, I'll know everything is alright.”
Advice: Life can be pretty overwhelming, but it’s essential to remind yourself to relax.
21. "(There’s Gotta Be) More To Life" by Stacie Oricco (2003)
“There's gotta be more to life, than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me.”
Advice: It’s kind of like people waiting on the new iPhone to release: Once you FINALLY get it, you’re all amped up about it. This new piece of technology gives you excitement for a few weeks, until you get bored with it or experience its fatal flaws, and then you feel empty inside once again.
This is because not even the shiniest gadgets can satisfy our deepest desires. We look for satisfaction in materialistic things, while true happiness is found through love, meaningful relationships, our passions and within ourselves.
So maybe don’t invest in the latest iPhone, and instead, invest in your future.
22. "Everybody’s Changing" by Keane (2004)
“Everybody's changing. And I don't feel the same.”
Advice: We see change in others before we see it in ourselves. The truth is, we all change, even if we aren’t aware of it. However, the beauty of change is it isn’t always a bad thing.
So, there you have it: 22 songs from the 90s and early 2000s full of inspiration and advice. Take a listen and see if you hear them in a new way now that you’re older.
If you don’t happen to hear them differently, or if they don’t lift your spirits the same way they did for me, at least you have some pretty f*cking awesome songs to add to your playlist.