Playlist: Tom Sharah

Actor and cabaret artist Tom Sharah is premiering his new cabaret That ’90s Show as part of the Hayes Theatre Co season. We asked Sharah, whose career has skyrocketed since winning the 2009 Sydney Cabaret Showcase, to share his ultimate ’90s playlist.

Who Do You Think You Are – Spice Girls

As a child, I was obsessed with Disney and musical theatre and that was about the extent of what I listened to. That was until I saw the Spice Girls perform this song on Hey Hey It’s Saturday one life-changing evening in 1996. I totally succumbed to Spice-mania and became their biggest fan. I had every album, every single, every piece of ludicrous merchandise (yes, including the Barbies). I recorded every live performance or concert they did on my VHS, and I totally ugly cried the day my Mum read me the newspaper article announcing that Geri (my favourite) had left the group. The best thing about my love for the Spice Girls was that it opened my eyes to the world of pop and Who Do You Think You Are is an example of ’90s music at best – a simple but infectious melody with plenty of spunk and shitloads of Girl Power.

I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston

My diva. Untouchable and irreplaceable. And this song is, perhaps, my favourite pop record of all time. It’s a flawless vocal performance made all the more epic by the emotion and power behind it. I always say that big notes mean nothing if the story isn’t being told. And that was the thing about Whitney – she sang everything with so much truth and soul. I Have Nothing is regularly covered, but I have never heard a version that comes even close to the original. The key change before the final chorus still sends shivers up my spine every time. All hail Whitney.

No Diggity – Blackstreet/Dr. Dre

In my opinion, R’n’B and rap hit its peak in the ’90s. It was gangsta and bad-ass, but still mainstream and accessible. No Diggity is a perfect example and is still on every playlist I make. It’s always a crowd pleaser – no one doesn’t like No Diggity! There is an awesome cover by Chet Faker worth checking out, but nothing beats the original beats and sounds of Blackstreet and Dr Dre. BOSS.

Wrap Me Up – Alex Party

Gotta love a one-hit wonder. The ’90s was the decade for them and I was tossing up what track to include in this playlist – Coco Jumbo by Mr. President and Jackie by BZ feat. Joanne came very close – but Wrap Me Up is still my go-to party anthem. It is feel-good, electro-pop at it’s finest. As soon as the harmonies hit in that chorus, I’m taken straight to my happy place.

Doo Wop (That Thing) – Lauryn Hill

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is my favourite and, arguably, one of the greatest albums of all time. It is not filled with stand-alone radio friendly pop gems (besides this one) – it is a journey you go on from the beginning to the end. It feels wrong to skip a track. Like Whitney, Lauryn has got ALL the soul. Her storytelling is dark and powerful and riveting. And then, on the flipside, she can bring the joy and funk of a song like Doo Wop (That Thing) which is street-sass R’n’B gold. I am seeing Lauryn Hill in concert at the Sydney Opera House next week with my three best friends who I grew up listening to this album with – it’s a bit of a bucket list moment.


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