First Hit #1: August 6, 1994
While the charts were dominated by divas singing ballads, Lisa Loeb is much closer to the sound I associate with the mid-90s. It wasn’t the only sound of the decade, of course, grunge was steadily growing and hip hop had an increasing amount of cultural relevance, but Loeb and similar artists were a large component of what I remember, a certain coffee-house inspired bit of folk pop that defined the kinder, gentler side of the time. They represented an antidote to the bombast of most of the big divas. Loeb had slightly dorky glasses, her singing voice was really nice but much more grounded, and her song had complicated acoustic guitars but was largely pared down in arrangement. If the larger than life sound of the other big hits of the era left you cold, Loeb had the alternative, and it was something that felt a bit more real than the vocal acrobatics of her chart contemporaries.
In an era where sitcoms were increasingly putting trendy coffee houses in the forefront as their big locations, Loeb put out a song that sounded like it would belong in that environment, and fit the image of the slightly trendy, slightly well off type of person who would drink complicated coffees at such a place. Other big trends of the era would seem out of place in that environment. I know this sounds incredibly dismissive, but I genuinely like the sound, and I appreciate the need to fit music to the environment in which it is played. This kind of folk pop was the perfect compliment to a certain urbanite fantasy that took root in the decade, and as such things go, it’s one of those trends that I can actually understand quite well, even if I don’t personally drink coffee. It’s a nice place to be, and even if the song is about Loeb breaking up with a lover, it’s also a nice song for the time. It’s also refreshing to hear a song that proves that going big isn’t the only way to get attention.