June 19: Karate Kid, Barney, Jay-Z, Austin 3:16

Plus the song with the longest title to ever hit #1 on the Billboard charts


The Retro • Modern perspectives on ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia

June 19th, 2020 • Issue 0


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This week in nostalgic history

June 19th

28 years ago, on June 19th, 1992 - Barney & Friends premiered.

I was too old for Barney when it premiered, but I certainly felt its impact. The strains of “I love you, you love me” reverberated far beyond the primary school demographic to which the show ostensibly played. Barney grew the evolving pro-self-esteem push and turned it into an art form — anyone looking for how children of the ‘80s and ‘90s became known for self-worth heretofore unseen in any other generation can trace its roots to prehistoric Grimace.

  • Also on June 19th: Michael Jordan was selected 3rd in the NBA Draft (1984)… Roxanne hit theaters (1987)… Ben & Jerry’s announced Cherry Garcia ice cream (1987)… Michael Jackson performed in divided Berlin (1988)… Pablo Escobar surrendered to police (1991)… Batman Returns hit theaters (1992)… Mulan hit theaters (1998).

June 20th

39 years ago, on June 20th, 1981 - The record was set for the song with the longest title ever to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song was from Dutch novelty pop act Stars on 45, a group that made mash-ups before there were mash-ups. The title of their #1 song: Medley: Intro "Venus" / Sugar, Sugar / No Reply / I'll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You're Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45.

The nine minute-plus still holds the record today for the longest title of a #1 song.

  • Also on June 20th: Jaws hit theaters (1975)… Karate Kid 2 hit theaters (1986)… the video game Bionic Commando was released (1988)… Bobby Brown’s album Don’t Be Cruel, featuring My Prerogative and Every Little Step, was released (1988)… the Chicago Bulls won their third consecutive title, defeating the Phoenix Suns (1993)… O.J. Simpson plead innocent (1994)… Batman and Robin hit theaters, as did My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997).

June 21st

23 years ago, on June 21st, 1997 - The WNBA debuted as the New York Liberty defeated the L.A. Sparks.

It’s quite impressive that the WNBA has survived 23 years, if only because new sports leagues so rarely stick in the U.S. landscape. The WNBA also received significant vitriol in its early days — and outlasted it all. I wrote an article in October 2009 on the 11 Reasons Why You Should Stop Crapping On the WNBA, an article that was reprinted in a handful of newspapers — today, I no longer think such an article is even needed.

  • Also on June 21st: Cocoon hit theaters (1985)… Chef Boyardee passed away (1985)… Bo Jackson officially became a two-sport pro athlete when he signed with the Kansas City Royals (1986)… the L.A. Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons to win the NBA championship (1988)… Jon Bon Jovi had his only solo #1 bit with Blaze of Glory (1990)… the finale of the first season of Seinfeld aired (1990)… The Rocketeer hit theaters (1991)… Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame hit theaters (1996)… Bob Carlisle’s one hit, Butterfly Kisses, peaked at #10 (1997).

June 22nd

36 years ago, on June 22nd, 1984 - The Karate Kid hit theaters.

The Karate Kid has, perhaps, a more powerful aura than anyone realized. The remake from 2010, featuring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan. I do. The original wasn’t ripe for a remake. It was rooted in the time, propagating the beloved ‘80s movie tropes of surfer bullies and random sports (see: Over the Top, Back to School, et. al.). It was so well done it couldn’t be rebooted — it could only be extended. And so it was, with the YouTube original series Cobra Kai in 2018. Even in this era where everything is rebooted, not everything is rebootable.

  • Also on June 22nd: John McEnroe gave his famous “You cannot be serious” rant (1981)… Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” led Argentina past England in the World Cup (1986)… Florida banned thong bikinis (1990)… Adam Sandler joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (1990)… Cypress Hill’s single Insane in the Brain was released (1993)… the U.S. upset Colombia for its first World Cup win since 1950 (1994)… the Houston Rockets won the NBA Championship over the New York Knicks (1994)… the video game Quake was released (1996)… K-Ci and JoJo’s single It’s Real and Christina Aguilera’s single Genie in a Bottle were released (1999).

June 23rd

24 years ago, on June 23rd, 1996 - “Stone Cold” Steve Austin gave his career-launching “Austin 3:16” promo.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin was not recruited to the WWF to be a megastar. He was recruited to a “carpenter” in industry parlance — someone to give good matches to other wrestlers who were rising up the card. But there was something inside of Austin, something that came out when he gave his famous Austin 3:16 promo at the King of the Ring pay-per-view. It was a starmaking moment as Austin, it turned out, was the perfect hero of the moment. He was a cynical antihero who, in spite of it all, still operated by a moral code; wouldn’t have played in previous decades, played perfectly in the ‘90s. Austin was Fight Club — existing outside of the laws governing normal people. He could beat up his boss, drink 17 beers, and come out better for it.

  • Also on June 23rd: The Knack’s single My Sharona was released (1979)… David Letterman’s daytime talk show aired its final episode (1980)… Batman hit theaters, as did Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)… New Kids on the Block trashed their hotel room (1989)… Sonic the Hedgehog was released for Sega Genesis (1991)… Lorena Bobbit lopped off her husband, John Wayne Bobbit’s, genitalia (1993)… the third season of MTV’s The Real World, set in San Francisco, debuted (1994)… the Nintendo 64 debuted in Japan (1996).

June 24th

23 years ago, on June 24th, 1997 - The U.S. Air Force released a report unequivocally denying aliens or UFOs at the mysterious Area 51.

Two decades before some kid decided to organize an event to storm Area 51 (hey, remember that from late last year, feels like it happened 200 years ago, right?), the U.S. Air Force was already addressing the rumors the base was not what it seemed. In the years since, as various documents have been declassified, some degree of doubt has been cast on those denials. To mangle the catchphrase of a popular TV show of the time, the truth is somewhere.

  • Also on June 24th: In a ruling that feels like it might be relevant today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a president cannot be sued for their actions in office (1982)… Porky’s III hit theaters (1983)… Who Framed Roger Rabbit? hit theaters (1988)… Shaquille O’Neal was the number one pick in the NBA Draft (1992)… Nicki French’s cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart peaked at #2 (1995)… the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup (1995)… three notable singles were released with Sister Hazel’s All For You, Shawn Colvin’s Sunny Came Home, and 98 Degrees’ Invisible Man (1997)… Michael Olowokandi was infamously the number one pick in the NBA Draft (1988).

June 25th

24 years ago, on June 25th, 1996 - Jay Z’s debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, was released.

Reasonable Doubt was not a runaway hit out of the gate. The rap world had bigger things going on in 1996 — mainly the colliding supernovas of 2pac and the Notorious B.I.G. There were four singles released from Jay Z’s album — Dead Presidents, Ain’t No *****, Can’t Knock the Hustle, and Feelin’ It — none of which cracked through to the mainstream like other rappers of the era.

The album was, however, critically acclaimed and certainly noticed in hip-hop circles. The commercial disappointment, however, did spur a pivot, even if it was an unspoken one. His next album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (and, really, all subsequent albums), took on a glossier, poppier tone — with megastar results.

  • Also on June 25th: Blade Runner hit theaters (1982)… the Purple Rain soundtrack was released (1984)… Head of the Class aired its series finale (1991)… Sleepless in Seattle hit theaters (1993)… Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett (1993)… Kim Campbell became Canada’s first female prime minister (1993)… the final episode of David Letterman’s Late Night on NBC aired (1993)… Pearl Jam canceled its tour over its feud with Ticketmaster (1995)… Tim Duncan was the first pick of the NBA Draft (1997)… Windows 98 was released (1998)… Big Daddy hit theaters (1999).


Everything old is new again

A look at the reboots, revivals, throwbacks, retro insights, and nostalgia in the news.

Throwbacks and recommendations


Thanks for reading!

-Sam