That’s So 90s Pop: A Fill-In Activity Book, by Patrick Sullivan
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Clarkson Potter Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
As someone whose teenage years took place in the 1990s, and who was a fan of many of the pop acts of that decade , there was a lot in this book that I found particularly appealing. While I’m not sure that it will be as easy for people to be as nostalgic about 90s pop as about the pop of other decades, there is quite a lot here that people could be nostalgic about. I still have the cds of many of these artists in my own music collection, and found a great deal in this book to appreciate. Of greatest personal interest to me, as might be expected, was the randomness of the facts included here. For example, did you know that TLC held up music executive Clive Davis with a gun to get royalties they felt they were owed, or that a member of 98 Degrees had run for mayor of Cincinnati? I remember the second fact myself, but largely on account of having lived there myself. If this sort of trivia moves the dial at all for you, you will likely have fun with this book.
The contents of this short book are pretty easy to understand and relate to. For each of the bands or performers included there is one page that serves as a coloring page and another that contains one of the following activities: trivia, crossword puzzle, maze, word searche, hangman, true or false quiz, and haiku (done to most humorous effect for Eminem). Thirty acts are included, making this page a trim 60 pages: Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, ‘NSync, 98 Degrees, Christina Aguilera, Maria Carey, TLC, Mandy Moore, Enrique Iglesias, Destiny’s Child, Jessica Simpson, Macy Gray, Alanis Morissette, Aaron Carter, Lil’ Kim, Pink, Lou Bega, Eminem, B*witched, S Club 7, Carson Daly, Missy Elliott, Hanson, Ricky Martin, R. Kelly, Blink-182, Avril Laving, Kriss Kross, and Los Del Rio. As is common in books of this kind, it is more notable what acts are not included than which ones are: the band is a bit short on the British alternative music that crossed over during the 90’s like Blur, The Verve, and Oasis, does not include country crossover (Shania Twain or LeAnn Rimes) or country pop (Edwin McCain or the Black Crows), rock or alternative acts that crossed over to considerable pop success (Goo Goo Dolls, Semisonic, Live, Stone Temple Pilots, or any other number of bands), or decade’s standard bearers of dance pop or adult contemporary (Robert Miles, Everything But The Girl, Donna Lewis). In short, while what is here is pretty enjoyable, there is a lot more that could have been added given the fact that not all of this music has aged particularly well. Of course, the same could be said about many of us from the decade as well.
As a reader of this book, the main question I pondered from the point of view of this book as a product of calculated nostalgia was to which audience is this book aimed at? I can see two fairly obvious audiences for this book, namely those adults in their thirties who are nostalgic about the pop music of their youth and young adulthood and their children. More than the nostalgia of 90s pop music from a chartwatching perspective (as I had at the time as someone who would get up before 6AM every Sunday to record Rick Dees’ weekly top 40 for several years), this is nostalgia about the days of TRL (Total Request Live) from the time where music videos were still on MTV. As such, this particular collection is a bit biased towards those acts which had a strong visual appeal rather than those acts of somewhat ordinary looking people whose appeal was more musical. I suppose that is to be expected given the fact that half of this book consists of pages for coloring, which is as visual a media as the music videos that helped to inspire this book, but it certainly skews the contents of a book that should nonetheless be enjoyable as a way of provoking nineties nostalgia.
 See, for example: