The famous show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” debuted in 1998.

Highlights of the Major Pop Culture Trends of the 1990s

The last decade of the 20th Century was significantly important for the major events that took place in this time. With a revolutionary change and an ever-great advancement in technology, the decade of the 90s is still considered as an important one for the current standards and modern era where we live. The 1990s is considered as the decade of relative peace and prosperity mainly because of the fall of Soviet Union which was having a long drawn cold war for decades. The uses of the internet and other aspects have also contributed to the 1990s being significant.

The important pop culture highlights of the 1990s is provided in the article below. Find out more about how this became an interesting decade of all times.

Hollywood

Official Poster of the film, The Titanic

The Hollywood industry became more interesting and the primary focus was on the different types of multicultural as well as action and thriller movies. Family animated films such as Stuart Little were also important. The trend of musical films was reduced along with the films being based on war. The 1990s was a time when fun-filled adventure films were at their peak. Many actors who are working today were born in the 90s period.

  • The Titanic was the most grossing film of the century and was the only movie till 2010 to have earned the $1.8 billion. It was released in 1997 and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. It was also the most expensive film made of its time with a budget of $200 million. Stars of the film included Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
  • Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was the second most grossing film of the 1990s. It was the first one among the series of Star Wars that got huge success and earnings about $1 billion. The film was produced and distributed by the company 20th Century Fox and stars included Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman.
  • The Decade for Family Entertainment – 1990s was a time when different types of family entertainment movies were produced. Although initially, they did not get much success especially before 1995 such as Rock-a-Doodle, Thumbelina and The Pebble and the Penguin. However, after 1995, many great family entertainment films were released which hit the charts right away such as The Lion King, Stuart Little, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin as well.
  • Emma Watson who is a famous actress in Hollywood was born on 15th April 1990. She worked as a child actor in the start in movies such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Since her first appearance in the Harry Potter series, she became a star in the industry.
  • The highest paid actress of the world in 2015 and 2016, Jennifer Lawrence, was also born in 1990 on 15th August. She is often cited to be the most successful actor of her generation and being the only actor born in the 1990s to have won an Oscar. Famous films in which Jennifer Lawrence has worked include The Hunger Games (entire film series), Red Sparrow, Passengers, Mother, and Winter’s Bone.
  • Famous film featuring NASA, The Armageddon, was also shot and released in the 1990s. The film revolves around the threat of an asteroid that was coming directly to hit the Earth and had to be destroyed. The film was among the top 25 most grossing films of the 90s because of its portrayal of space along with action.

Music

Singer Justin Bieber spotted during a performance

Music in the 1990s was more in the grunge, “gangsta” rap, R&B, teen pop and electronic dance genres. This changing trend and pattern were brought by the different types of musicians of the time such as Dr. Dre, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston,   Moby, Fatboy Slim, Björk, Aphex Twin and others as well. In general, the most famous kind of music of the time was Hip-Hop music. The trend of clubbing and parties had also increased which led to more demand for party music.

  • Spice Girls were the most famous band of the 1990s which was originally formed in 1994. The all-girl band focused on the girl power mantra and had their songs mainly targeted towards the females. “Wannabe” was a famous song by the group that was number one on charts in 37 different countries. Many more albums were released by the group which helped them in earning over $75 million a year.
  • As said by Billboard and World Music Awards, Mariah Carey is considered as the artist of the decade because of her exceptional songs. Carey has had so much success in her career that she has been named as the “Songbird Supreme” by the Guinness World Records. Some of her top songs include “Hero”, “Without You”, “All I Want for Christmas Is You”, “Fantasy”, “Always Be My Baby”, as well as “One Sweet Day’.
  • Ariana Grande was born in 1993. She was an American singer who started her career in2008 with a Broadway musical. Although, she initially became successful due to her role as Cat Valentine in the Nickelodeon show “Victorious” but later got her fame due to her songs like My Everything and Dangerous Woman. She has won a Grammy Award for The Best Pop Vocal Album.
  • “Gangsta Rap” and adult songs which were based on sensitive subjects such as sex and violence became popular in the 1990s, mainly due to the efforts of Dre, the famous rapper. His 1992 album, The Chronic, was the first step towards “gangsta rap” and emerged as a new genre for music.
  • One of the most popular singers of all time, Justin Bieber, was born in 1994. He was just the age of 13 when he first started off his career through RBMG Records. He became the youngest solo male act to have been on the Billboard charts right after his album My World.

Science and Technology

CDs became popular in the 1990s

The 1990s is considered as the decade that was most important for the field of science and technology. The usage of the internet, one of the main aspects of the modern digital era, started to become common in the 1990s. Many of the famous inventions regarding IT and communication were developed in these times, a better version of which is still available today. Significant changes were there due to a higher usage of personal computers in people’s lives.

  • Most important event of the 1990s has always been the access towards the World Wide Web. Although much of the technology was present before but a public access was granted in August 1991 by CERN. The first ever web browser was later used in 1993. Revolution through the internet was evident with the usage of the World Wide Web.
  • The first ever Mp3 Player was created in late 1998. Although it was a basic one, it helped in a much better and easier access to music through the internal storage. It was a gateway for Apple who developed the iPod later on as their own branded MP3 Player. The first model had a basic memory of 32mb, but it was expandable to 64mb.
  • The Usage of CDs was highly popular in this decade. Revolution was so fast that the CDs could now be recorded with the help of CD burners being more common. It also became a standard feature in the personal computers which helped in its further promotion. Later, the concept of portable CD players was also made in the late 1990s.
  • With personal computers becoming more important, Microsoft started to develop new kinds of interfaces for their users which were sold commercially. These included the Windows Operating Systems such as Windows 3.1, Windows 1995, and Windows 1998 as well.
  • The 1990s is considered important because it was the time when one of the biggest rivalries of tech firms started. Apple and Microsoft started to compete and came with newer products every time. With Microsoft developing IBM PC computers, Apple developed its first Macintosh computer in 1991 while MAC OS X Server 1.0 was further developed and released in 1999.
  • 1990s is also credited for the fact that the first microprocessor was developed in this decade by Intel Corporation. Initially, Intel had suffered by not having much demand but with the increased usage of personal computers, microprocessors became the most important invention of the 1990s.
  • What we see in terms of smartphones today, were developed as handheld Satellite Phones in the late 1990s. These satellite phones worked with the help of orbiting satellites or terrestrial cell sites. Since it was not limited by any cell phone towers, these were accessible almost everywhere in the world.
  • The basic programming language which has acted as a gateway for further programming languages is Java which was developed by Sun Microsystems in the year 1995. It was useful for developing different types of applications and is still considered as one of the easiest programming languages. With the success of Java, Sun Microsystems was bought by Oracle

Sports

Michael Jordan in the year 2014

Sports became more common and widely played in the 1990s. More countries were now participating in the world-wide championships such as FIFA World Cups, Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and others as well. More games were also announced which were to be played on a national and international level.

  • Michael Jordan was an American Basketball Player which became a sensation for basketball fans due to his multiple winnings. The player broke multiple previous records and was known as the greatest basketball player of all time. Jordan was one reason why basketball gained fame. During the 1990s, his team won six championships mainly due to his exceptional skill in the sport.
  • Boom period for the World Wrestling Foundation was also during the first three years of the 1990s. This was mainly due to better access over cable television as well as pay per view policy. Efforts of the promoters such as Vince McMahon also count towards this success. Major players of the WWF such as The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior were the most important players of the era.
  • A total of three different Olympic Games were held during the 1990s. The first one was the Summer Olympics of 1992 held in Barcelona, California, and Spain. The United Team in which players who belonged to different Soviet Union Nations got 45 gold medals and 112 total medals. In the upcoming years, the 1994 and 1996 Olympics were held.
  • In the 1990s, the National Hockey League was held and for the first time, the team’s expanded from 21 to 30 teams. Major changes were seen in the National Hockey League as the teams relocated to new cities. Top performing teams of the era included Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, and Hartford Whalers. Furthermore, the NHL had teams now from San Jose, Miami, and Tampa.

Fashion

Grunge-style flannel shirt and curtained hair

The design trends of the 1990s were more towards the minimalist fashion. This was quite different from the excessive fashion trend that was present in the decade of the 1980s. An important aspect of the global fashion was the increase in popularity of Earth and Jewel Stones. Casual clothes became much popular such as T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, and sneakers.

  • Women in the 1990s once again started to follow the fashion of the 1970s. This meant that a more open dressing became popular and culturally significant dressing had a reduced importance. Women started to wear denim skin fit pants and kept long straight hair. This trend continues for a long time.
  • Women also found a cultural phenomenon and fashion sense through the famous TV show, Friends. Women who wanted short hair tried to follow the style of Jennifer Anniston, who was playing the role of The Rachel in the show.
  • Improvement on Fashion was seen in the 1990s mainly due to the presence of the World Wide Web. Women who were more interested in getting dressed took help from the internet with the major source being the celebrities of the era. The reduction in import tariffs from NAFTA also led to promotion of fashion in the 90s.
  • Y2K Fashion was the popular one by the end of the decade. It was important because people were shown a whole new kind of fashion which became popular in future too. Y2K Fashion was marked by darker, slinkier, and more sophisticated dressing of both, men, and women.
  • Media played an important role in shaping the fashion sense. People who watched television shows, films, and movies were now adopting the fashion as they saw them. For example, the popular dressing was Tartan trousers, striped shirts, long sleeved polo shirts, Champion (sportswear) crew neck sweatshirts worn over a turtleneck adopted from Golden Age of Disney Films.
  • Wonderbras were one of the most sold items of the 1990s. The Model 1300 Wonderbra was very popular in Europe initially and then to other areas of the world. The spike in push-up bras and plunge bras was seen in different parts of the world. Sports Women also wore these bras at times which further influenced the public.

Television

Friends Cast - Season 1.

A year with a unique era for television shows and programs. The general shows such as news shows, and morning shows were not as much popular in that time, but the American Sitcoms became a worldwide hit. Moreover, the concept of medical dramas was introduced in the mid-1990s and many shows turned out to be successful, according to National Broadcasting Company.

  • Famous American Sitcom “Friends” became a source of entertainment for the people. Cast of the sitcom included Jennifer Aniston, Courtenay Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer. It was one of the longest sitcoms which continued for 10 years. The show is still popular amongst the youth today.
  • Diagnosis Murder was the first show based on medical mystery aired on television. It starred Dick Van Dyke and his son Barry. The series started in October 1993 and continued till May 2001. 178 episodes were made and aired in the show’s eight seasons on the CBS network
  • Crime drama shows became popular after soap-operas died down. Few shows were released but they became highly popular which is why in the 2000s, the crime drama shows were one of the most watched ones. Successful debuts of crime drama show of 1990 include Law & Order, NYPD Blue, and Homicide: Life on the Street, and Nash Bridges.
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire was also started in the late 1990s? It was a show where the host asked the participant some questions in reward for money, the last of which was $1 Million. Soon after its debut, John Carpenter became the first ever person to have won the $1 Million on 14th November 1999.

Literature

Writer J.K. Rowling who wrote the Harry Potter Series

It was probably the last decade where literature was highly important. Following this decade, there has been more focus on movies and films rather than literature itself. Yet, there were some highlights in this area too.

  • K. Rowling wrote the first ever book on the Harry Potter series which was named as the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The book was a big success and was considered by The New York Times as the bestselling book. Therefore, J.K. Rowling wrote further books in the series. Moreover, films were made on this entire book series.
  • John Grisham became the best-selling author in the United States in this decade. This is because several of his novels were published and had over 60 million copies sold. This included The Pelican Brief, The Client, and The Firm.

News

A Picture of Princess Diana two months before her death

The major events of the 1990s that were reported in the News are listed below. These events were very significant for the future of the United States as well as other parts of the world. Many unexpected events took place in this decade, but it was still a peaceful time.

  • Most important event of this decade which resulted in a peace between different countries was the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Following this dissolution, the long-drawn wars were ended. Belavezha Accords were signed which marked the independence of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. On 25th December 1992, the Soviet Union was officially dissolved.
  • A sad incident took place in August 1997 when the all-time famous Lady Diana, who was the Princess of Wales died in a car accident in Paris. She was with her friend Dodi Al-Fayed and her driver who also died in the accident. Later it was found out that the car driver, Henri Paul, was drunk.
  • The Lewinsky Scandal also took place in 1998 when it was found out that the acting US President, Bill Clinton, was having sexual relations with one of the internees at the White House named Monica Lewinsky. The U.S House of Representatives voted to begin impeachment proceedings for the President. However, he was later acquitted by the Senate and continued to work till the upcoming elections.
  • Los Angeles Riots were a series of riots that took place after a court dismissed the case against 4 officers and acquitted them where they had used brutal force and power against Rodney King. The riots were so wild that about 55 people died and there were more than 5500 property fires at that time.
  • the 1995 Chicago heat wave was important because it was such a severe heat wave that 739 deaths were reported due to heat in Chicago in just 5 days. It was later found out that these people died of heat because they were not able to afford air conditioning or were homeless. The Midwestern region of the USA was heavily impacted.

Conclusion

It is said that the 1990s was the decade of peace and prosperity as there were no major wars in this period. The concept of terrorism and terrorist attacks was not quite there in this time. Most important element of this decade was the advancement in technology, the creation of handheld phones, and the wide access of the internet which helped in creating a digital era in the 21st century.

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