When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up. Now, as adults, we often reminisce about our childhood, wishing we could go back.
Being a kid means no responsibilities. Being a kid means no anxiety about the future. And, most importantly, being a kid means that your only goal in life is to have fun.
“90s Kid” is a smooth blend of pop instrumentals and folk sensibilities. Think The Chainsmokers with a tinge of Mumford and Sons.
Myall immediately arrests the listener with his hypnotic “Oohs” and “Na Na Nas” at the start of the song. This unconventional intro is jarring at first, but grows on you after a few listens.
Take me to my old house
with the tree fort in the backyard
that the windstorm blew the roof off.
We don’t hang there anymore.
Meet me in the games room
on the futon eatin’ junk food
till the night falls, playing foosball and Nintendo 64.
The lyrics of “90s Kid” are simple and evocative. Myall sketches a picture of his childhood and sings with a quiet wistfulness. When you hark back to your childhood, you inevitably feel a little melancholy because there’s a feeling of freedom and innocence that you miss; freedom to live hedonistically, innocent of life’s travails.
The piano accompaniment in the verse is faint, so most of the musicality comes from Myall’s soulful voice.
Remember when the headlines were just for mom & dad while
we played spotlight in the dark?
Now, the news is all I’m hearing and kids better be praying
before they leave that door.
“Headlines” here represent social and political issues, matters that lay outside the sphere of childhood. Myall laments his departure from that sphere and urges children to enjoy their juvenescence while they still can.
Oh my my my my my, do you wanna go back?
Do you wanna go back?
Do you wanna go back for just one
ni-ni-ni-ni-night, do you wanna go back?
Do you wanna go back? Do you wanna go back?
Yeah, so do I.
So do I.
The song really takes off in the second chorus, when the bass drum kicks in and the instrumentals come to life. The bass drum adds a punchy rhythm to Myall’s words, while his voice, previously restrained, bursts into anthemic chants of nostalgic yearning.
Myall invites you to reminisce with him, and in doing so, makes you feel the same melancholic longing that possess him.
But time makes a fool out of dreamers.
Myall also exhibits his capacity for insight and lyricism in this line. We dream of big things when we’re kids, but as cynicism seems like an obligatory component of adulthood, we outgrow those dreams and the innocent mind that birthed them.
I don’t know what to do but I gotta do something.
I don’t know what to do but ain’t time to do nothing.
In the bridge that ends the song, Myall perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that emerge in adulthood. We are uncertain about the future, but we feel strong societal pressure to “do something” with our lives. Moreover, as opposed to our childhood where the hours in a day seemed infinite, time runs too quick for us now to experience the simple pleasures of life.
“90s Kid” is an anthem for adults. It evokes a sentiment everyone can relate to: the difficulties of dealing with adulthood and the longing to return to our childhood.
Myall’s vivid lyrics and gloomy tone accurately capture the feelings we experience when we think about the childhood we’ll never have again.
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