20 Years Ago Today, This was the Number One Song in America. Never Forget What You Did.
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20 Years Ago Today, This was the Number One Song in America. Never Forget What You Did.

By Courtney Enlow | Music | May 9, 2014 | Comments ()


Let your drum-machine-beating freak flags fly.

Guys. We need to work through this. Together. I’ve seen enough Ray Donovan to know that our pasts can really fuck us up if we let them, and this is ours. We share this. We are in this together.

Just let it out. Let yourself feel it. Confront who you were.

It’s going to be OK. We. We got a new life. You would hardly recognize us, we’re so glad. But that doesn’t change the fact that persons like us cared for this song.

I owned this CD. I listened to this CD in its entirety. I owned that Aqua album too but I’m not sorry about it and that’s for another day. I need to accept who and what I am and that is a person who helped this song reach worldwide ubiquity. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am someone who called Today’s Hit Music WDBR and requested “The Sign” by Ace of Base on more that one occasion. And I still deserve love. And so do you.

We are OK, guys. We really are. Don’t hate yourself. You made the best right choice at the time. And no ones gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong. Wherever it is that you belong.

Courtney thinks now is as good a time as any to let you know summer is here and that means it’s time for the return of Liveblogging the ’90s, which will kick off next week with her favorite of them all, The Crush.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • KagsMar

    Ya...1994 me listened to lame music...no way this song is still on my ipod....
    *hides in shame*

  • No.

  • davcamp

    I love this song. I admit it. I've played it for 20 years. I admit I'm old too, apparently.

  • MJ

    It's typical pop disco. Every decade has it. This was the Call Me Maybe of its day. Nothing to be ashamed of. Nobody thought it was groundbreaking or classic. Hating on stuff like this is sort of like laughing at the colour grey for being dull.

  • loganbowes

    Dude looks like Adam Pally

  • manting

    I didnt know that one of the Hemsworth brother was in Ace of Base

  • kirbyjay

    Sorry. No. Not me. Drown in your own shame, don't pull me under.

  • Scott McGregor

    I liked Ace of Base a lot better when it was the 70's and they were called ABBA. I regret nothing.

  • wojtek

    I firmly stand by Ace of Base. They are glorious.

  • Trixie

    JGSOLID, can't believe more people haven't commented on your awesome Marvin Gaye story! Sounds like you had a great musical education growing up. Thanks for posting the link, love this song.


    And I have the best/stupidest high school story around it.

    I had this classmate who was a giant clown and a dork. So we started doing Trigonometry in math class, and somehow this giant dummy starts singing "I saw the sine, and it opened up my eyes I saw cosine, life is a taaaangent" to this song and holy crap, I think we all died at the same time, and my teacher probably did a headdesk that left a dent on the table. It's the ONLY reason I even remember the words sine and cosine and all that shit. I love it. I'll never forget it. I LOVE THIS SONG.

  • Raoul Duke

    Freaking hilarious!!!!!!

  • googergieger

    Lisa Loeb 4 lyf.

  • Skyler Durden

    I was going to college in Oregon (go ducks!).

    There were no teevees in the dorm rooms, only radio. And this fucking song played all day, every day. I see it in my dreams.

    It follows me still.

    And the rain. The wet, wet rain.

  • 20 years ago, Weezer released the blue album and I still enjoy it. So that's how I'm going to frame all this in my head. Your way is messing me up a bit.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ugh, I still see my money freshman roommate in her oversized sweater and how much I wanted to pull a string...

  • yazikus

    I had the single, and loved it so much. Today this song remains with me as an important tool: whenever I have a song stuck in my head (think wrecking ball or some such nonsense) I simply start humming The Sign, and am instantly cured. Every time. Thank you, Ace of Base.

  • I want to contribute to this healing process in a meaningful way, but my brain just rode the Nineties' umbilical snap back to sounding out whatever the hell Snow was saying.

    "In-FOOORRRR-mer, something-something in the lair, a licky bone-bone there? A leaky boom-boom dare? WTF? Put Color Me Badd back on."

  • Berry

    You win.

  • Coolg82

    I still love Ace of Base, and not just this song. But even if you hate it (which seems to be a recent development for many), it is still light years ahead of some of the shit that comes out today.

  • Lee

    Guilty-I still love The Sign. I also loved that 4 Non Blondes song. Off to the library to procure both..

  • Which 4 Non-Blondes song? This one? http://youtu.be/32FB-gYr49Y?t=...

  • Lee

    That was aweful, yet I couldn't stop watching.

  • Scott McGregor

    That this even exists may be proof of God.

  • SelenaMac

    What, the rest of you aren't hopping around your living room with pajama pants on your head singing along?

  • idgiepug

    The douchiest douche in my freshman dorm played this song EVERY afternoon right I was coming in from class. I responded by running my hands through my henna-dyed hair, pulling off my Doc boots, and blasting Nine Inch Nails' Head Like a Hole as loudly as my tape deck would go.

    I won the 90s.


    Thank Godtopus I am a negro. 20 years ago I was listening to the number one R&B jam "Bump and Grind" from R. Kelly's debut album 12 Play. Ace of Base who?

  • Nyltiak

    I STILL have my Ace of Base CD. I still play it in the car. (Louisiana has approximately 1.5 decent radio stations, and sometimes the iPhone needs charging.)

  • e jerry powell

    Um, no. I am 45 years old, and I fully reject all of this.

    In fact, I rebuke all of the 1994 top ten. Of the top twenty, I even rebuke the Prince song.

    Ye gods, I must have been asleep through that entire year.
    Oh, no, that's right, I was working in COLLEGE/ALTERNATIVE RADIO while I was in music school.

    An unspeakably disgusting year for popular music.

    Ah, now I feel better.


    Are you kidding me, "Regulate" was Warren G gansta rapping about being robbed and having to be saved by his friend. It's a very rare song in a genre full of ganstas being sexual supermen, unstoppable killers and drug kingpins. Janet Jackson's "Any Time, Any Place" was also the song I lost my virginity to, a sexy and intimate piece about Janet's need to make love whenever and where ever possible, which fit my situation perfectly being that I was engaging in coitus in a storage room at my cousins wedding.

  • e jerry powell

    "I don't listen to hip-hop, because I have ears and self-esteem."
    --Gloria Bigelow

    I don't accept that janet. was Janet Jackson's best work. It has its moments, but on the whole, the more I listen to it, the more disappointing I find it. Call it my age; I was 17 when Control came out (and Jackson was 19 at the time).


    I don't listen to much hip hop either anymore. My father, a Motown signed singer in the late 70's, never let me listen to gangster rap and I had to listen to most of it at friends homes. I am much more of a jazz and soul man. I am listening to janet. this very moment and I agree Control is her best album. Pleasure Principle is a great song.

  • e jerry powell

    So then your dad probably would have introduced you to "Quiet Storm." "Anytime, Anyplace" is pretty boilerplate QS (as is "I Get Lonely" from her next album), and it's not even Best in Genre of that particular era. Perhaps closer to explicit (save for Marvin Gaye, perhaps), but still pretty average.

    Of course, this video cuts off the coup de grĂ¢ce, which was too racy for MTV at the time:
    "Please don't procrastinate; it's not good to masturbate."


    My dad introduced me to many things musically. I would come home from school and be in awe over the people sitting in the living room drinking tea. Smokey Robinson was always nice to me, being that unlike my brothers, I had no musical talent. Quiet Storm is an amzing song. My personal favorite of his. Now that you mention Marvin (my personal favorite vocalist), a story: My dad told my older brother and me about the production of I Want You, his often overlooked album. On the song "Soon I'll Be Loving You Again", around the two minute mark the backing vocals change to a "I'm going to give you some head." Everyone could hear what it said, but no one believed it and it was released. Smokey Robinson finally got around to listening to it, kindly informed everyone on the label that yes, it was saying what you think but by then it was too late. Marvin's punishment, forced to tour Europe for the first time in a decade. To keep him away from any controversy in the states.

  • e jerry powell

    Something about Grown Folks' Music has always been more sensible to me.

  • narfna

    So what song is this? I'm at work and YouTube is completely blocked.

  • laylaness

    I had this cassingle. A CASSINGLE. I was (oh god) 15 and definitely knew better.

  • emilya

    the usage of this song in the trophy wife christmas episode a) reminded me that i still love ace of base and b) solidified that the writers of the show are awesome.

  • wonkeythemonkey

    I hadn't thought of this song in a long, long time. This article really opened up my eyes.

  • ViciousTrollop

    I was 9 and I took of Ace of Base's song "All That She Wants" literally. I never knew how she was going to get this "baby" but it was plenty confusing.

  • I was old enough to understand, but must confess, the only image this song ever gave me was of a woman peeling out of a hospital parking lot with a bunch of babies in the backseat.

  • Alarmjaguar

    Not going lie, I still love that song!

  • AvaLehra

    I saw the sign and it told me not to click the YouTube video, and I am happy now.

  • Enrique del Castillo

    I can't believe no one has posted the best The Sign cover, by the Mountain Goats, hand signs included: https://www.youtube.com/watch?.... If the song is good enough for John Darnielle, there's nothing to be ashamed of.

  • BarbadoSlim

    I rocked the hell out of that.

    Cocaine's a helluva drug.

  • oilybohunk7

    Back in the day my brother was one of those guys that spent all of his hard earned money putting a "system" in his car. The entire trunk was some ridiculous speaker component. He bought the second, THE SECOND, Ace of Base album because he has a little trouble with homophones and thought that Ace of Base would feature a lot of bass and would showcase his equipment. Boy was he wrong.

  • Berry

    I knew so many of those guys! You could feel the bass when their cars drove up and down the main street in our village. Not good times.

    PS. The hedgehog in your avatar is the most adorable thing.

  • oilybohunk7

    We used to have a lot of those guys back then. We have this really busy street that people used to go "cruise" on Friday nights and then hang out in parking lots blaring their music. It was so stupid!

    Thanks! He is my little buddy Harrison and I'm pretty sure he is the coolest hog to ever scurry the earth.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    The 90s pretty much went past me, muscially-wise, but even I know there was much, much worse Eurodance than Ace of Base.

  • Jessie456

    First of all: Never feel guilty for owning Aqua. They are a national treasure, and every song on that CD is golden.

    Also: God this song. I'll be in bed, drifting off to sleep and from the deep recesses of my brain I hear it "I saw the sign..." No I didn't, shut up brain. "And it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign..." I'm trying to sleep brain, shut up!

  • Sara_Tonin00

    National Treasure for SWEDEN, maybe, but we're in 'Murrica, miss.

  • Kirre

    Aqua is from Denmark, just being an annoying bastard for pointing that out, never mind me.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    We're in 'Murica. I can't tell all those damn cold, blonde countries apart.

  • Alicia

    The singer for Aqua wasn't a blonde.

    (Okay, sorry.)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I was referring to the general blondness of the countries.

  • Jessie456

    I stand by what I said.

  • Siege

    This song brings back all kinds of warm, fuzzy memories. I was a junior high girl during this time, and Ace of Base were THE HEIGHT OF AWESOME.

    ("The Sign" is still awesome, even though I recognize now that it is not quality music.)

  • Bert_McGurt

    Could be worse. "All That She Wants" was on the same album.

    Now, while neither of those were my jam, I did have a shameful fondness for this little bit o' saccharine JBJ:


    Embarrassing as those are, they remain "not Creed" and "not Nickelback".

  • Berry

    My friend cried to this song countless times after her first boyfriend broke up with her.

  • Hey, there is not a damn thing in the world wrong with Bon Jovi and I'm not just saying that because 'Cross Road' remains to this day in heavy rotation on my IPod.

  • lmtj

    yes. yes. yes.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    "Embarrassing as those are, they remain "not Creed" and "not Nickelback"."

    That's like calling bubonic plague "not smallpox".

  • Marcia_in_Canada

    OK, long time lurker. Needed to de-lurk to express my support for this statement. Carry on.

  • dizzylucy

    This song always reminds me of standing around a friend's living room, waiting for them to get ready to go somewhere, and that song playing over and over on repeat. I have no recollection of who that friend actually was, who else I was with, where we went, or any other details, but just the thought of that song and I can instantly picture standing there waiting in that room, clear as day. What a weird memory.

  • No shame. I had two copies of that album and I still listen to the one I didn't wear out on occasion. "Beautiful Life" from The Bridge is on more than one of my Spotify playlists. My husband and I are prone to insert sung lines from Ace of Base songs into ordinary conversations. Lick it up, baby. Lick. It. Up.

  • Lord Inferno

    1994 is also the year Fred Durst founded Limp Bizkit.


  • Salasalu

    I love this song. C'mon! (there are worse things we've done)

  • I saw the headline on Twitter, tried to think of what it would be before before I clicked the link. I was thankful it wasn't Chumbawumba when the page opened.

  • lmtj

    That has got to be the worst song ever. Most anything after 94 up to maybe 2000 still completely baffles me, and it was my generation.

  • Buck off

    Yes, but they did throw a bucket of water over John Prescott at the Brits, so they're allowed one awful earworm.

  • Nimue

    Pissing the night awaaaayyyyy!

  • Muertemaria

    That is in 2 years my friend.

  • I think I missed this year in pop culture. The radio in my car didn't work, but the cassette deck did. I have no idea why/how that happened. I was poor and pregnant (I do know how that happened) and probably listening to some insufferable alt/folk girl band. That was also the year my husband and I discovered that if we wished to stay married, we would never again attempt to put up wallpaper. Those are the things I remember about 1994.

  • emmalita

    I'm so glad you know how you got poor and pregnant. I didn't want to have to explain that to you. I also missed 1994. I was in law/grad school that year. I was so busy being a student between 1988 and 1996 that a lot of this '90's nostalgia is totally new to me.

  • Cheetahdriver

    Um...I don't think new nostalgia is legal..or moral..or something..

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    I was a big fan of Close to You by Whigfield.

    ...And I still love Aqua. I can't help myself.

  • Dumily

    So much You Tubing. So much.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    SO DID YOU LIKE THE SONG?!? I just went jogging, and I played it on a loop.

  • Modernlove

    I remember having this on cassette and listening to it on one of those tape players that had the attached microphones. My best friend and I would have karaoke-style singalongs. I have zero regrets about my life choices.

  • Nimue

    I played this song at my wedding two weeks ago. I have no shame!!!

  • _Alexander_

    Ace of Base were awesome. I still love them and listen to them regularly!

  • Jim

    If you're not part of the part, you're problem of the solution. Of crap, sugar shock. {faints}

  • BWeaves

    I do not remember this song.

    I must have been listening only to oldies stations that played stuff from the 1950s and early 60's. In fact, I'm sure I was. Buddy Holly forever!

  • Going back to the Columbia House discussion earlier in the comment thread, I'm pretty sure that my mom got both the Ace of Base CD and a Buddy Holly and the Cricket's greatest hits CD from them. Buddy Holly forever!

  • e jerry powell

    I grew up in the Panhandle, so I have strong solidarity with both Maria Elena Santiago-Holly and Natalie Maines. Lubbock is a massive hole of suck -- bigger than anything Neil deGrasse Tyson can even imagine -- and it was good that Buddy Holly got away from it.

  • Don't feel old BWeaves, Buddy Holly is one of my favorite Weezer songs too.

  • BWeaves

    Very well played.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    well-played, sir.

  • Amy Love

    First CD I ever owned...

  • lowercase_see

    And now this song just makes me think of projectile vomit. Thanks, Obama.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I feel an irrational (and uncontrollable) urge to upvote whenever I see a "Thanks, Obama."

  • LL

    I always thought the lyrics were "I saw the sun, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sun." Which really makes more sense.

    Had to fight my father to share this cassette all the time. Columbia House accidentally sent it to us, IT'S MINE.

  • Jim

    Oh ... Columbia House...the wayback machine is fully engaged now.

    I'm utterly ancient so C.H. for me meant the sheet of stamps that looked like album covers you had to separate and stick down on the mail in sheet.

  • "Eight albums for a PENNY?! PLUS two more? They must be CRAY-ZAYYY!! I better get on this....."
    - Teenaged Lemon, back in the good-credit days

  • And if you're one guy I went to high school with, you signed up for the initial offer and then when they went to make you pay for the additional albums you just sent them a letter saying that you were under 18 and therefore you were not legally allowed to enter into any such agreement and therefore were not required to buy the additional albums.

  • Dumily

    As much as I wish "The Sign" were my most embarrassing guilty pleasure, that spot unfortunately belongs to a little song called "Get Another Boyfriend" by a little band called The Backstreet Boys. I would sing every goddamn word if that song came on right now.

  • Dumily, my morning workout is dedicated to you. Was it all the promises of diamonds, pearls and party dresses that turn you on? Also it's hard to type while spinning.

  • Dumily

    This just made my day.


  • Dumily

    I've seen it before, DON'T TAKE anymore
    Three, two your through for sure.

    Oh, Nick Carter, why did I love you?

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