What would happen if one day you woke up with your whole adult life ahead of you, and you could rewrite all of your biggest decisions? Would things turn out better? How would you handle it? VH1's new scripted series Hindsight, which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST, attempts to answer that age-old time-traveling question with a major dose of '90s nostalgia.
The series begins with Becca (Laura Ramsey) on the eve of her second wedding. After a freaky elevator ride, she wakes up in New York City in 1995 on the morning of her first wedding and discovers she has the opportunity to live her 20s over again -- the "right way" this time. Becca tries to readjust to life in the '90s -- a time before iPhones, when you could smoke in bars, AOL was cool, and Patrick Dempsey wasn't hot yet -- so that she can make the right choices and avoid a future of mediocrity. Will her perspective on life help her make the right choices? This premise carries the narrative of the show, but the real highlight each Wednesday is the music.
Beginning with the opening credits, which feature Spacehog's "In The Meantime," the each episode reunites you with your favorite '90s jams. Becca wakes up in 1995 to the sound of Ace of Base's "The Sign" blaring. From there we here songs from Notorious B.I.G., Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette, The Cranberries, Spin Doctors, Deee-Lite, Lisa Loeb, Social Distortion, Gin Blossoms, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Deep Blue Something, Letters to Cleo, R.E.M., Everclear, Stone Temple Pilots, Tom Cochrane, Sara McLachlan, Bush, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, The Cure, Mazzy Star, Hootie & The Blowfish and many, many more.
But with a decade of iconic music to choose from, where do you even begin as a music supervisor?
According to Isaac Ayers, VH1's Music Supervisor, the goal of soundtracking this series was to make it as authentic to 1995 New York as possible. Because the series is set in October of 1995, they had to research chart positions from that time in history and settled on tracks from 1991-1995 as their "sweet spot."
"It was a little daunting," Ayers said. "The genres differed depending on the character and scene, but it was all about researching chart positions on Billboard and seeing what was released [at the time]. Obviously we wanted to use big hits to call out the fact that it is the '90s, but we also wanted to throw in some obscure things to kind of immerse the audience in the era and not sort of hit you over the head. We looked at chart positions on the pop charts but also the dance charts."
Ayers was also fortunate with the licensing he was able to secure. VH1's in-house music supervision department, called Creative Music Integration (CMI), usually works with labels and artists with promotional placements in mind. But because Hindsight is set in the '90s, there is really no place for introducing up-and-coming artists; therefore, they had to alter their approach.
"This was a totally new venture for this music supervision department," Ayers explained. "We had no idea how it was going to turn out. It's not new music. It's not in cycle. It's catalogued music that -- depending on who the artist is -- everyone's just looking to recoup on that asset. Or if they're re-releasing stuff, then maybe they're interested in getting an ad card for featured placement."
For labels looking beyond a cash grab at nostalgia, Hindsight is a great platform for their artists to be rediscovered and find new audiences. The show helps artists who might've fallen off the radar become relevant again in a way. What's more, these placements can mean upticks in sales and can even impact the charts.
For example, digital single sales for the title sequence track, "In the Meantime" by Spacehogs, jumped 90 percent after the second episode, and similar upticks are taking place across other series as well.
"It's a big deal for us keeping music a part of the VH1 brand," Ayers said, referencing the fact that people often accuse the company and its sister network MTV of abandoning music in favor of reality programming. Although they might not play music videos on loop all day (and they do continue to play videos) they are still focused on showcasing great music and being a resource for artists.
Not only is VH1 giving exposure to artists on the show, they are showcasing them on their social platforms as well. In fact, all of the music you hear on Hindsight can be found on a Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
Beyond song licensing, music also plays a role in Hindsight's storyline. For example, in the pilot, Becca's best friend Lolly (Sarah Goldberg) references a trip to Lollapolooza or "Lollypolooza" as she terms it. Then later, in Episode 105, Becca is given her first assignment at her new magazine job -- to cover R.E.M.'s Monster Tour concert at Chapel Hill. It's every music lover's dream to go back and see now-defunct bands perform in their heyday, and Becca is given that opportunity. She accidently lets the band's eventual breakup slip, and even spills the news to Lolly that she won't be able to make out with Michael Stipe. "Not going to happen," Becca tells her. "He isn't playing for our team." She also slips up when interviewing concertgoers, telling them that they're going to love R.E.M.'s next album.
Elsewhere in the episode, Becca is driving in the car with Lolly and their new friend Paige (Drew Sidora) when Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" comes on the radio. Becca makes a comment about how long it has been since she's heard the song, and Paige gets confused because the song is played on the radio all the time in 1995.
There will surely be more musical moments to come, and though we can't experience the '90s over again ourselves, Hindsight offers us a heavy dose of nostalgia to keep us satisfied.
For more on the music behind Hindsight, check out our Q&A with VH1 Music Supervisor Isaac Ayers here. And if you're in love with the '90s as much as we are, you'll definitely want to enter our contest to win a caboodle full of '90s gems like snap bracelets, CK One perfume, and more.