From Cotton Eye Joe to Jordan Catalano, the Summer of '94 was a very rad time

By Kelli Bender
June 20, 2014 03:00 PM
Getty; Education Images/UIG/Getty; Moviestore Collection/Rex USA

Close your eyes and imagine a simpler time: 20 years ago, when there were only 60 channels on cable TV and no such thing as an iPhone, or an iPad, or an iAnything. It’s the summer of 1994, emojis are an unknown entity, and Butterfinger BBs are plentiful. Sheryl Crow is spinning on your walkman, and life is good.

Progress is important. Over the past 20 years, countless inventions and ideas have come to fruition and gone on to change our daily lives for the better. But there’s also nothing wrong with indulging in a little nostalgia. Especially if the memory lane you’re casually strolling down leads to the ’90s.

Don’t start buggin’ now! Take a break from the bustling world of 2014, and see what everyone was obsessing over 20 years ago.

WARNING: This post may make you feel old!


1. The Lion King hit theaters June 15 and went on to rule the box office, earning $768,625,889 worldwide, more than any other film in ’94.

2. Forrest Gump, released July 6, came in second, teaching viewers the importance of fast feet and shrimp preparation.

3. Running several spots behind Forrest in the 1994 box office race – at a pace roughly over 50 mph – was Speed, which steered onto screens June 10.

4. On July 29, The Mask, starring Jim Carrey at the peak of his funny faces prestige, dropped in to keep the summer “smokin'” … and green.


5. Here are the three hits that were battling it out to be your 1994 Song of the Summer:

“I Swear” by All 4 One

“Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb

“Don’t Turn Around” by Ace of Base

6. But wait, there’s more! On Aug. 30, English rock group Oasis released their debut album Definitely Maybe.

7. Across the pond, Weezer took their first steps into rock history, releasing their debut album Weezer or The Blue Album on May 10.

8. School dances and bar mitzvahs would never be the same again thanks to these two summer releases:

“Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex

“Tootsee Roll” by 69 Boyz


9. Girls everywhere released a collective audible gasp on August 25, when Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto) graced their screens for the first time in the premiere episode of My So-Called Life.

10. New Yorkers stayed glued to their TV sets as both the Knicks and the Rangers played hard to win their respective championships. Only the Rangers proved to be victorious, ending a 54-year Stanley Cup drought.

11. The true story of seven strangers picked to live in a house took a dramatic turn with The Real World‘s San Francisco cast. The ’94 season featured Pedro, the first HIV-positive housemate, and the explosive and “obnoxious” Puck, who was later evicted.

12. 20 years ago, the United States was hosting the FIFA World Cup, bringing the unifying power of soccer to arenas in nine different states. This year’s World Cup host country, Brazil, left the ’94 competition with the crown.


13. What were you rocking in the summer of 1994? Probably a clashing mix of disheveled flannels, crushed velvet, loud colors and one-strap overalls.

14. Pogs – because throwing things at other things will never get old.

15. 1994 was the year the Internet proved it was too legit to quit, with Aerosmith becoming the first major band to premiere a song on the World Wide Web in June. Plus, launched a month later.

16. When Pogs lost their luster, kids could always grab a Game Boy and break barrels with Donkey Kong, which was released in June followed by the first Donkey Kong Country game in November.

Scandals and News

17. The summer of ’94 had a somber start with both Kurt Cobain and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passing away shortly before the season began.

18. The drama surrounding the O.J. Simpson murder case extended into 1995, but the saga started on June 13, 1994, when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found dead.

19. Woodstock decided to give it another go, hosting a second festival on August 13-14 to commemorate the original iconic concert. The reboot featured Santana, Blues Traveler, Blind Melon and lots of mud.

20. Michael Jackson continued his shocking behavior with his biggest surprise yet: marrying Lisa Marie Presley in a mid-May quickie wedding – capped off by an especially infamous VMA appearance


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