The ’90s Are Gone, But I’m Still Jamming

As comedies in the late ‘90s often do, the cast proceeds to break out into a dream dance sequence. Mary begins her aforementioned nice moves as a soulful singer spouts the catchphrase of the decade: “Everybody dance now!” The cafeteria members obey, rising from the benches to fist-pump and twirl their way through the number.

As far as ’90s nostalgia goes, nothing beats that song. I memorized the “Superstar” dance number when I was a kid, so you better believe I was more than familiar with the C+C and the Music Factory hit — not to mention the fact that it was used in dozens of commercials, films and television shows. Most importantly, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” was included on the one and only Jock Jams, Volume 1.

Most of us were too young to remember the initial release (’95) of the ESPN-produced compilation — created to pump up athletes of all kinds — but the following four editions (released in ’96, ’97, ’98 and ’99) had a definite generational impact.

Yet now, Jock Jams holds a peculiar place in musical history; not yet old enough to achieve its recognition as a classic, not new enough to still be relevant, the compilation stands in pop limbo.

If it were up to me, Jams would get the recognition it deserves, joining the ranks of Nirvana and Backstreet Boys in our recollection of a not-so-distant decade.

Take “Gonna Make You Sweat.” When the track was released in 1990, it sparked the house movement that enabled Jock Jams. Its combination of lazy, Ice-T raps with throwback R&B vocals and revolutionary electronica was nothing short of groundbreaking for a time when ‘80s power metal wasn’t yet a thing of the distant past.

But as the decade moved on, the track was culturally recycled so many times that it began to lose its luster. It has now become the go-to choice for musical sequences like the one in “Superstar.” (If you’re looking for impromptu choreography in your movie, make someone say, “Everybody dance now!” It’ll damn well begin.)

But don’t blame C+C; the tunes on Jock Jams are undeniably fun. They expertly combine pump-it-up cheerleader chants, classic hip-hop (Biggie, BLACKstreet, Naughty By Nature) and goofy early house music (Quad City DJs, Technotronic). I’d dance around aimlessly in my room as I blasted the CDs on my boombox. In fact, I still do the same now, except swap the childhood boombox for my iHome.

I miss that boombox. With Jock Jams and the Spice Girls at the ready, we had some pretty good times. Now that I’ve re-downloaded and stored that album on my iPod, though, I can start the party anytime. Just add Sunny-D (and this time around, maybe some off-brand vodka).