Are you drawn to mysteries? Do you like 90s music? Then read on! If not… then you’re welcome to read on anyway. The following 5 mysteries are still being debated more than 20 years later and I find myself thinking about them sometimes.
What is the message in the video for Radiohead’s single Just? Released in 1995, this video sees a suited man suddenly stop in a city street and lie down on his side. More people in suits, plus a policeman, try to find out why he’s lying there. In the subtitles, he says ‘I can’t tell you. It wouldn’t be right.’ He wants to be left alone. He’s not mad. He denies that he thinks there’s no point in living. Eventually – ‘God forgive me’ – he is persuaded to spill the beans. The video ends with everyone (except for the band) lying on the floor not moving. The message is open to interpretation. What words are powerful enough to affect the population like that? The video now has over 8 million views on YouTube.
Who assassinated Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur? These two superstar rappers – and rivals – were shot within 6 months of each other. They were only in their twenties. Tupac was the victim of a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Biggie’s murder was also a drive-by shooting, in Los Angeles. Those responsible were never brought to justice. Someone, somewhere, knows who did it, but gang loyalty would prevail. The rappers’ careers may have been cut short, but both men have a successful musical afterlife, having released material posthumously and affirmed their status as idols, martyrs even. It’s not out of the question that their murders will finally be solved.
What happened to Richey Edwards? Manic Street Preachers guitarist and songwriter Richey disappeared in 1995. His car was found near the Severn Bridge. The 27-year-old was known to self-harm and suffered from anorexia and depression. Much has been written about him and there have been ‘sightings’ in various locations. He was officially presumed dead in 2008. The following year, the Manics released an album, Journal for Plague Lovers, which used Richey’s lyrics and contributed to his legacy. Admired and idolised by a legion of fans, his reputation as a beautiful young genius is assured. The assumption has been that he took his own life, but it’s not too far-fetched to suggest that he may have staged his disappearance. Without evidence either way, we can never know.
Why did Alan Wilder leave Depeche Mode and will he come back? After the famously difficult making and touring of the Songs of Faith and Devotion album, super-talented Alan quit the group. ‘Why’ should not be a mystery, as Alan’s press release in 1995 gives enough official reasons, although possibly other things were going on which were not made public. There have been campaigns to bring him back – regardless of why he left in the first place – and the internet is full of fans wishing he would bring his studio wizardry and keyboard skills back to the band. It seems highly unlikely this would happen, as it’s been over 20 years, he’s now 60, has auctioned off most of his equipment and is possibly retired from the music business. However, there’s always a chance.
What was ‘Cool Britannia’ really about? I recently read a book about this. The label ‘Cool Britannia’ goes back a lot longer than the 90s but it seemed an apt name for the media to celebrate the great things happening in British popular culture. Rather than some kind of unified movement, Cool Britannia was apparently a bit of New Labour ‘spin’. It can’t be denied that lots of amazing music, art, literature, fashion and films were around from the early to the late 1990s (with a peak around 1996-7) and that people were loving it. Yet, it seems quite fake to look back on, considering how Tony Blair rode on the bandwagon and tried to make it look like he, too, was cool.