By now, I should make it clear that I’m not too big on boy bands. However, there are a few who I don’t mind, whose music I actually like and that includes the Backstreet Boys. I was very young when these guys were big and out of all the boy bands of the 90s, their music has aged the best. Take, for example, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). This song kicks a load of ass with its production that’s upbeat and energetic. The members of BSB have great vocals that are also distinctive, you can tell who’s who. Yeah, this song is from a boy band, but it’s still cool.
Before gangsta rap’s rise, there was Digital Underground, a hip-hop version of Parliament-Funkadelic. Their music was silly and fun, they never took themselves too seriously and were about having a good time. For example, Humpty Dance. Normally, I cringe at hip-hop dance songs, but this is one of the rare exceptions. The production is well-composed and bouncy and was made for parties. Shock G is in his Humpty Hump alter ego as he raps about silly things like in spite of his appearance, he still get money and chicks, but because the song isn’t meant to be taken seriously, it’s not frustrating. And also, he actually teaches you how to do the Humpty Dance and he encourages the listener to have fun unlike most hip-hop dance songs. So refreshing.
You know who else had a great career? Elton John. The guy has more hits than you can count on both hands and has given us numerous classics. The 90s was pretty good for ol’ Elton, especially in 1997 when he made two of the biggest hits of that year, Something About The Way You Look Tonight and Candle In The Wind 1997. The former song is a soft rock number where Elton found a lover who will bring him happiness after feeling lost previously. Candle In The Wind 1997 is a remake of his song of the same name released in 1973, which was dedicated to Marilyn Monroe. The 1997 version was made as a tribute to Princess Diana, who had died that year. It’s a very touching song, helped further by the piano and string arrangement. Elton John, nothing else needs to be said.
If I can sum up 90s dance music with one song, it would be this, C & C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat. It’s the song that livens up every party it’s being played at and demands everyone to get on the floor. Those easily recognizable guitar licks and hard-hitting drums and percussion makes for energetic production while Martha Wash blows everything away with her voice (though she got screwed over royally in terms of being credited and the music video, but that’s a conversation for another day) and raps provided by Freedom Williams (am I the only one who thinks he sounds like Ice T?). Not much else to say about this song. It’s a certified banger.
Who would’ve known that Broadway musicals would make classic hip-hop songs? That’s what Jay Z did when he worked in It’s The Hard Knock Life from Annie into the chorus of Hard Knock Life, paralleling the tough times that the titular character was going through in the musical to Hov’s rags-to-riches story about his come-up in the rap game out of drug dealing. A big contrast from the source material, but the way it was flipped is a work of genius. One of Jay’s best songs and the one that made him into a mainstream presence for years to come.
Michael Jackson’s genius continued on from the 80s onto the 90s with both Black Or White and Remember The Time. The former track is a rocking attack against racism as Michael is fed up with people being generalized by the world because of the color of their skin. And the rap verse provided by LTB expands on that notion. The latter track is Michael talking to a woman about the good times that they shared with each other over sparse R&B production. Both songs also have great music videos, but it’s Michael, you know that.
With Runaway Train, Soul Asylum notched their biggest hit and I’ll be damned, it’s a great song. I like the instrumentation with its textured acoustic guitar, grungy electric guitar, and drums. The song deals with a man in a deep depression and how he’s trying to get himself out of it. He’s hoping that somebody can get him out of his funk and rid him of his depression. Amazing song through and through.
In the time when West Coast hip-hop was dominating the charts, Warren G came with one of the smoothest songs to ever come out the West with Regulate. The beat takes a sample of Michael McDonald’s I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) and turn into a G-funk banger. Warren G and the king of hip-hop hooks Nate Dogg tell a story of Warren looking to get laid when he notice some dudes playing dice and he tries to join in but then they rob him, at the same time, Nate Dogg happens to be nearby and he shoots at the robbers and both Warren and Nate take some women to a hotel for a night of fun (if you know what I mean). Regulate, a G-funk classic.
Anytime someone accuses me of hating on the South every time I bash a wack rapper, I automatically point them to OutKast being one of my favorite rap groups. The ATL duo of Andre 3000 and Big Boi have made some of the most creative music out of the area like Elevators (Me & You). Built on sci-fi synths and funky bass and drums, Big Boi and Andre rap about their humble beginnings as upcoming rappers hoping for a way out of their impoverished neighborhood and make sure their families are well-off. These two play off each other well with their dual personalities, Andre being more wacked-out and non-conventional and Big Boi being the cool player type. After this song, OutKast would go on to make more genre-defining classics.
There’s been many cases of young rising talent being away from us too soon. Take for example, Selena. The Queen of Tejano music was 23 years old when she was shot and killed in 1995. Three months later, I Could Fall In Love was posthumously released, topping the Latin Pop charts and making the top 10 on the Hot 100 Airplay charts. A ballad with instrumentation that combined Latin pop with R&B influences, the song expresses the feelings one has when they fear having their heart broken again, especially when they find the person they’re falling in love with. Plus, we get an amazing vocal performance from Selena herself. In death, her influence is still strong with Hispanic artists. Hell, she was partly responsible for the Latin explosion that would come later on in the decade.
And now we crack the Top 40 with the world’s biggest band U2. Regardless of how one feels about the band (or more specifically, Bono), they’ve made some impressive records that are worth respecting like One. The instrumentation is excellent with its use of acoustic guitars, organ, and percussion. Meanwhile, Bono sings about humanity coming together to understand each other for the sake of survival. Although there has been other interpretations of this song like it’s a conversation between a father and his gay son who’s HIV-positive. Whatever the meaning of the song is, it’s still one of U2’s best.
One of the things that Janet Jackson was really good at is making sexy slow jams and That’s The Way Love Goes is no exception. The mid-tempo instrumentation with the funky guitars, sensual keys, and dusty drums are perfect for this song. Janet uses the lowest end of her vocal register for what’s basically a sex jam as she and her man get down and dirty in the bedroom. Whew. It’s getting steamy in here. Next song.
Anyone remember the hip-hop group House Of Pain and their song Jump Around? Well, one of them, Everlast, split from the group to start a solo career. His big hit was What It’s Like, a huge departure from what he did with House Of Pain. This is a song with production that combines blues-rock acoustic guitar instrumentation with a hip-hop beat while Everlast provides three somber tales of people down in their luck, a homeless man begging for change, a pregnant girl who has an abortion, and a drug dealer whose lifestyle catches up to him in death. Each character is shown in a sympathetic light in spite of their lives being in the shitter. It’s a real downer of a song and a well-made one at that.
Most metal bands that were big in the 80s would normally start fading out by the start of the 90s, not Scorpions, though. They wound up scoring their biggest hit to date with Wind Of Change. The power ballad’s instrumentation kicks a lot of ass with its guitars and big drums, plus, that memorable whistling. The lyrics were inspired by the fall of Communism in eastern Europe as they have a message of unity and hope for the future. Germany needed a song like this after the Berlin Wall came down.
Remember back when I talked about Crush when I said that a great song can be made from the basics? That’s definitely true here for Gin Blossoms and their songs Follow You Down and Til I Hear It From You. Both are simple alt-rock songs with great instrumentation (the former has a pretty cool use of a harmonica). In Follow You Down, the narrator is getting back together with his ex and is trying to make things work even though there’s the possibility that it might not. In Til I Hear It From You, the guy hears rumors of his girlfriend cheating and he wants to hear the truth from her. This is something most people in relationships fear having to confront and the sentiment is very earnest. Both songs are pretty good and are worth checking out.
Biggie’s second album Life After Death was released 16 days after his tragic passing and it spawned two number one hits, Mo Money Mo Problems and Hypnotize. I’m not a big fan of Mo Money Mo Problems mostly due to the unneeded presence of Puff Daddy and Mase, which is why Hypnotize is superior. Its bouncy funky production is perfect for summer events and Biggie’s rapping and flow are as strong as ever. The lyrics are basic brag raps, but Biggie’s technical skills elevates them beyond cliches. There’s still the annoyance of a wild Puffy ad-lib here and there, but I can just ignore them. Great song from a legend.
I make it no secret that I’m not a fan of “thugs need love, too” songs, but this formula, like many others, can be done right if given to the right people. Take, for example, Big Pun’s Still Not A Player. It’s a “thugs need love, too” song, but it works excellently thanks to one reason: Big Pun. This dude is one of the most underrated entertaining emcees of the 90s with technical rapping skills unlike any other, plus, witty punchlines and over-the-top lyrics that aren’t meant to be taken seriously as he raps about how he gets a lot of pussy.
Who wanna ride it won’t cost you a dollar
whether soft or harder of course you still gonna holla
My my, I’m big huh, I rip my prick through your hooters
I’m sick, you couldn’t measure my dick with six rulers
I could go downstairs, little brown hairs everywhere
“You nasty Twin!” I don’t care
He insists he’s not a player, he just fucks a lot (or crush if you’re going by the edited version, which is actually disturbingly hilarious imagery considering his physical appearance). Also, while the production isn’t great, it’s decent and Joe is a great addition to the song, his smooth R&B voice contrasting Big Pun’s…
I could go downstairs, little brown hairs everywhere
“You nasty Twin!” I don’t care
Yyyyyyyyyeah. Still a good song. A shame that Pun isn’t with us anymore.
In spite of the bad reputation that post grunge gets (thank, Nickelback and Creed), good songs have came out of that genre like Collective Soul’s December. A lot of Collective Soul’s music have religious themes and imagery and this song is no different. But what makes December work and Creed doesn’t is the writing, instrumentation, and presentation. The instrumentation is pretty good with the electric and acoustic guitars, the drums, and the bongos. The writing uses biblical imagery to describe a relationship coming to an end and doesn’t carry any stench of pretense. This is one good way of making a song with this subject matter.
Did I ever mention that Janet Jackson is one of the best? Because she is. Of all the female pop stars of her time, she was the one whose music has aged the best. Rhythm Nation is basically her magnum opus with its rougher hard-hitting instrumentation and its more socio-political themes, trying to bring awareness to the problems of the world during the time of this song’s release. Plus there was that kick-ass music video. It’s so influential that many pop stars tried to emulate it with little to no success. There’s also the slow jam Come Back To Me with its ethereal keys and percussion and Janet wanting her lover to stay with her even with the relationship coming to an end. Two different songs, both succeeded in greatness.
I’ve previously done a Musical Appreciation on this song, so check that out for my full opinion. All I can tell you is that U.N.I.T.Y. is a great female empowerment song that is actually empowering for women. Queen Latifah isn’t taking crap from any man who doesn’t respect women to where they call them out of their name. The jazzy production is amazing. This song is amazing, period. The 90s were a great time to be a female rapper.
I made it no secret that I’m not a fan of modernized covers of classic Disney songs, especially the ones from the 90s. To me, the covers to Beauty And The Beast, A Whole New World, and most especially Go The Distance, all sound like cheap cash grabs that don’t do anything that helps enhance the songs further and they have all aged horribly through time. One exception, though, is Elton John’s cover of Can You Feel The Love Tonight. I love The Lion King and consider it to be Disney’s best animated film, but I feel that Can You Feel The Love Tonight was one of the film’s weaker songs. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t have the same impact on me that Circle Of Life had. Then Elton John comes to the rescue. The instrumentation sounds like a lot of AC songs, but it’s not horrible. Elton takes the song and makes it his own with better writing than the movie version. This is probably the only time a cover of a Disney song was actually better than the original.
Boyz II Men provides another R&B ballad in End Of The Road, which is basically about the end of a relationship and the emotional pain the guy goes through. Even though they’re through, they refused to believe it’s over. The vocal harmonies of Boyz II Men sound amazing as they sell the emotion of heartbreak. The production is dated, but not bad. If you just broke up with your girlfriend or boyfriend, have this song ready for spins and let the tears fall.
Most of you probably don’t remember this song, which I don’t blame you on because it’s one of the more obscure 90s songs. I want to change that now because King Of Wishful Thinking is a great song. Its upbeat production with the warbling synths, guitar licks, percussion, and horn section is a product of some of the best parts of 80s and 90s pop music. Writing-wise, it deals with a guy in the aftermath of a break-up. His heart has been broken and yet, he soldiers on with a positive outlook on his life, telling himself that he won’t let this break-up get to him in spite of how he truly feels inside. Very underrated song, which more people should rediscover.
I think it’s impossible to hate Will Smith even when he plays a character who we’re not supposed to like or sympathize with. The dude just has too much charm for all that and it shows in his music (Boom! Shake The Room still sucks, though). Men In Black was made for the movie of the same name and it’s just awesome. The funky ass beat that samples the 80s tune Forget Me Nots is one of the best. Will Smith is his usual corny self, rapping about the plot of the Men In Black movie. Love this song as a kid, love it now.
In 1994, Biggie released his debut album Ready To Die, a seminal East Coast classic and a hip-hop record one must listen to before they die. The big hit out of that album is Big Poppa. The beat is pretty dope, sampling Between The Sheets and making this smooth R&B, hip-hop jam as Biggie raps about how cool he is with the ladies while dissing player wannabes who use lame pick-up lines that will get you nowhere in real life. Meanwhile, Biggie’s smooth demeanor makes him more attractive to the ladies and thus, his chances of getting laid are very high. One of the best hip-hop songs made for a female audience.
After being bailed out of prison, 2Pac signed to Death Row Records and went back to making music, including the (un)official California anthem, California Love. The beat bangs harder than a metal concert with its sample of Joe Cocker’s Woman To Woman. Then again, the song is produced by Dr. Dre, of course, it slaps. The late Roger Troutman conquers this memorable hook with his use of the talk-box (which is different from Auto-Tune, by the way). Dre and Pac both rap about their love for California and how awesome it is. Such an awesome song.
And we got more TLC. Nice. Yeah, I couldn’t choose between these two songs, so I picked them both since they’re both mid-tempo, acoustic guitar-rooted R&B songs. Scrubs deals with guys who think they’re hot shit, but in reality, they’re not worth much and don’t bring anything to the table besides empty promises. Unpretty is an empowerment anthem to women telling them that they’re beautiful, no matter their imperfections. Once again, the vocals and harmonies are on point and showcase the girls at their best. Nuff said.
Ahh, here’s another 70s act who managed to do well in the 90s, Aerosmith. After collaborating with Run-DMC a decade ago, the band regained popularity and started popping out hits in the 90s including their biggest single to date I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing. Made for the soundtrack to Armageddon (it’s a Michael Bay movie, you guess the quality of it), this remains one of the best power ballads ever made. The rocking instrumentation combined with a string orchestra to give it a bigger goosebump-inducing sound along with Steven Tyler being… well, Steven Tyler. Meanwhile, the song deals with being so in love with someone that you don’t want to miss every second with them. It’s really touching.
Next up, we have a song from Keenan Edwards’ favorite band (BTW, check out his mixtape, it’s fire) The Proclaimers. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) is pretty awesome. The brothers are damn good guitar players as this song shows in its amazing instrumentation. Charlie and Craig Reed both show their Scottish pride by singing in their native accent. The writing shows a guy who’s willing to do anything for his woman’s love, even walk a thousand miles to… somewhere. Anyways, great song. Definitely recommend checking out more of The Proclaimers’ music.
During the time Fresh Prince Of Bel Air was on the air, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince continued making music and scored their biggest hit to date with Summertime. Whenever you think of summer, this is the song that comes to mind with its breezy, more chilled production that samples Kool & The Gang’s Summer Madness. Will Smith (with rhymes written by Rakim) raps about all the activities that people participate in during the summer like outdoor barbecues, hanging at the beach, cruising around town and checking out women wearing shorter clothing. One of the best summer songs ever.
Sarah McLachlan is best known for her song Angel, which is the theme to those depressing ass ASPCA commercials with the sad puppies and kittens and… *sniffles* who’s cutting onions around here? *sniffles* Anyways, her best song to me is Building A Mystery. The instrumentation is pretty damn good with its guitars, organ, and drums. Sarah sounds great as she sings about the insecurities people hide from others in order to make themselves feel better, yet they’re not aware that they’re good just the way they are. Not much to say about this masterpiece. It’s great.
And now we have George Michael with a song that represent the 90s very well, Freedom! 90. The instrumentation is well-done with the piano and the percussion creating a more foreign sound. Meanwhile, George shows off more of his amazing voice while he expresses his frustration with the industry and opted to drift away from what made him famous, feeling free not just as an artist, but as a man as well. When you have that crowd singing Freedom, you actually understand that feeling of freedom. One of George Michael’s best records.
What do you get when a powerhouse vocalist teams up with a quartet of harmonizers? You get One Sweet Day, of course. Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men teamed up to make a dedication song to all those who have passed away. They miss their loved ones who aren’t around anymore, but they soldier on and hope to join them in heaven. The song was written after Mariah’s close friend died of AIDS and she wanted to make a song dedicated to him. This song was a great opportunity for both Mariah and Boyz II Men to show off their vocals over this gospel-inspired R&B ballad production. Pour one out for those who aren’t with us anymore.
One of the quintessential pop ballads of the late 90s comes from, of course, the Backstreet Boys. I Want It That Way is a huge song, it’s one of the group’s signature songs and it catapulted them to new heights of superstardom. With soaring production that includes acoustic guitar and subtle keys, the guys sing about the strain of a relationship whose obstacle is distance. Yeah, some of the lyrics don’t make sense if you think about them, but they sell the emotion really well, making me forgive them. No matter what some people will think, this is a great pop song, plain and simple.
Here’s another masterpiece of a pop song, courtesy of Madonna. Ray Of Light is what I consider to be her crowning moment of awesome in the 90s. Its production is just a lot of fun with its spacey synths, pumping drums, and rocking guitar riffs. Meanwhile, Madonna sings about freedom and provides another one of her best vocal performances of the decade. Ray Of Light, best Madonna song of the 90s and one of the best pop songs made in that decade period.
Whatever your opinion on 2Pac was, you can’t deny that he was fully aware of the issues affecting the black community. With Keep Ya Head Up, Pac addresses issues affecting black women in the hood. Over a sample of both Zapp and The Five Stairsteps, he lets them know that even though times can be rough for them, having to deal with disrespectful douchebags who only want some pussy and have no idea how to talk to women and having to raise a kid by themselves on welfare in an area that will bring the worst out of them, there will always be brighter days. This song is a great example of Pac’s social awareness and skills as a songwriter.
Here, we have a classic from Tom Petty, Free Fallin. This is one of those songs that speaks for itself in terms of greatness. The instrumentation is very Americana rock with its acoustic and electic guitars, bass, and drums. It’s the most American-sounding song you would ever hear. Meanwhile, Petty sings about falling in love in California and the classic good-girl-meets-bad-boy tale. As expected, it doesn’t go right and hearts are broken. Kinda fucked up, but it still makes for a rock classic.
Did I ever mention that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are awesome? They’re one of my favorite American rock bands to ever achieve success in the 90s and they blew up with this song Under The Bridge. This somber number is different from the Chili Peppers’ more upbeat tunes as Anthony Kiedis sings about his isolation and how he always feel alone and turned to drugs to numb the pain. And the instrumentation fits this song with John Fruscicante’s guitar work, Flea’s bassline, and Chad Smith’s drums that all speed up by the halfway point of the song where a choir kicks in. In spite of the content, great song from the Chili Peppers.
Gangsta rap was already on the rise in the 90s, but it got a huge push into the pop charts thanks to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and the big single that changed hip-hop forever, Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang. The G-funk production Dre provides is funky and summery. We also get a show-stealing performance from Snoop Dogg himself, who pretty much dominates The Chronic album with his flows and coolness. Even though he wasn’t up to par with Snoop, Dre does a good enough job as well. These two have amazing chemistry as they play off each other well. Nuthing But A “G” Thang was the record that let the world know that the West Coast is here to stay and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. With the popularity of the South now, who can do it big for the West?
Yeah, I have to agree with my buddy Halston. I had a hard time choosing between these three, so I had to make a three-way tie. The number 11 spot goes to three songs from my favorite girl group again. I’ve already talked about Waterfalls in a Musical Appreciation, so go check that out if you ever get the chance to see what I think of it. In short, TLC’s best song, great message that’s still relevant today, nuff said. Now onto Creep. A funky party jam with an excellent use of a horn melody paired with some dusty drums and guitar licks and a tale of infidelity where a woman cheats on her boyfriend after finding out that he cheated on her. It is a shitty thing to do and it probably isn’t best to fight fire with fire, but it’s justified here because she’s feeling lonely and needs some affection, she’s not doing it out of spite. Red Light Special is another example of a sex song done right with its sensual lyrics and amazing production. Seriously, the guitar work on this song is like a wildfire. Like I’ve said, TLC are the best.
Of course, we start the Top 10 with the powerhouse vocalist herself Whitney Houston and her cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You. Even though the Dolly Parton version was good, I prefer the Whitney version personally. To me, Whitney sells the emotion of love better than Dolly. Plus, it’s her best vocal performance to date, starting off small and then growing as the song progresses until the final chorus where there’s a moment of silence and then…
Gets me everytime. We lost Whitney too soon, man. We are losing too many legends.
Beck is a strange artist because you can’t exactly pin down what his sound is. None of his music sounds the same, it’s always something different. This actually says a lot about his creativity as an artist. Let’s look at his only hit Loser. The instrumentation combines folk, rock, and hip-hop to make a sound that only Beck could ever make and it sounds spectacular. Beck himself raps and sings about how much of a slacker and loser he is. Well, to be fair, it’s mostly nonsense as evident by the lyrics. But I’d argue that it helps reinforces the slacker theme that Beck is conveying with this song. If you’re into more experimental music, I’d say Beck’s catalog is worth exploring.
After New Edition broke up, three of its members formed Bell Biv Devoe and deliver the classic Poison. Not only is it the best of New Jack swing, it’s also one of the best party jams of the 90s overall. The production is one of the best combinations of hard-edge hip-hop and smooth R&B. When you hear that beat, you know it’s time to dance. Bell Biv Devoe themselves warns the listener about falling love with the wrong person and how it can be deadly for you sometimes, like a poison (see what I did there?) You want to liven up any occasion? Put this song on and witness people running to the dance floor.
One of the best songs dealing with death comes courtesy of Cleveland’s own Bone Thugs N Harmony with Tha Crossroads. The group made this song as a heartfelt tribute to Eazy E and all those who have passed away. They know that the lifestyle they live could lead them down that path and they pray to God that they’ll get to see their deceased loved ones someday. Bone Thugs sell this song perfectly with their rapid-fire melody-mixed raps over this somber piano-driven beat. One of the best tribute songs ever that catapulted Bone Thugs N Harmony into superstars.
If you take off the nostalgia glasses, Space Jam was a horrible movie. Michael Jordan’s acting was as wooden as a Louisville Slugger, the Looney Tunes characters were wasted, and the entire film was nothing but a 88 minute long commercial. That being said, the soundtrack was AWESOME!! It was one of the reasons why the movie was worth being made and I actually used to have the soundtrack itself. There was a lot of great songs on there, one of them being R Kelly’s magnum opus I Believe I Can Fly. This song showed that Kells can do more than just raunchy sex jams. With a soaring string arrangement coupled with an R&B beat and a gospel choir near the end, it’s a song that’s guaranteed to give anyone goosebumps. It’s the best song to gain inspiration from as it shows that you can accomplish anything you want if you put your heart and mind into it to the point where you can believe that you can actually fly (but don’t try that, though). If you’re feeling down, put this song on to cheer you up.
I’m willing to forgive R.E.M. for Shiny Happy People because they have a lot of great songs and their greatest is Losing My Religion. With a great use of acoustic guitar, drums, and strings, the instrumentation sounds great. Meanwhile, Michael Stipe sings about unrequited love, wanting to confess his love to some woman, but unable to do so because he’s nervous, making up scenarios in his head. It’s sad to witness, but it makes for a compelling listening experience thanks to the talents of Michael Stipe and the rest of R.E.M.
It’s a shame we don’t get to hear more music from Lauryn Hill because she’s an exceptional talent in hip-hop and R&B. Her talents are displayed excellently in her number one hit Doo Wop (That Thing), which has superb instrumentation that modernizes a more throwback sound reminiscent of 60s R&B and bring it to the 90s. Meanwhile, Hill shows off her singing and rapping as she warns black women and men about “that thing.” Both genders need to be aware of how they present themselves and not pretend to be something they aren’t. Plus, they have to be aware that caring for things that don’t really matter at the end doesn’t help them and be wary of suspicious people who want to take advantage of them, man or woman. Plus, the music video is pretty awesome. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
Of course, one of the greatest rappers to ever lived gives us probably one of the best written rap songs ever. Dear Mama is 2Pac’s dedication song to his own mother and details all the struggles she went through to raise him in a cruel world even when his own father left them. Even when there were hard times, she always finds a way to show her love for her son and make sure he’s well off. It’s a very sweet, heartwarming song that’s guaranteed to make even the harshest mother tear up when they hear it. Definitely one of the best hip-hop songs to ever become a hit in the 90s.
I can already hear the outrage. “HOW DARE YOU NOT PUT SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT AT NUMBER ONE!! THAT’S THE GREATEST SONG EVAAAARRRRR!!” Let me explain myself. If you haven’t figured it out, this list is all my opinion and my opinion only. Yes, Nirvana’s most iconic song is a cultural landmark of the 90s as it shifted the sound of rock music away from glam, popularizing grunge music, and made the band into the voice of a new generation. The instrumentation rocks and Kurt Cobain’s scratchy voice fits perfectly for lyrics that seems like nonsense. I don’t know, there’s something in there about a revolution. Still, in spite of all of this and it being this high up on the list, Smells Like Teen Spirit isn’t even Nirvana’s best song. I know someone who’s a big Nirvana fan who said that it was their worst song. So who could possibly have a better song than Nirvana? Well, you’d be surprised.
And now, the number one best song of the 90s IS……..
Yep. The anarchist band Chumbawamba takes the number one spot for one of the most cleverly-made songs ever, Tubthumping. On a surface level, this might seem like a dumb drinking song, which has people split on the song, some loving it, others hating it. But then you dig deeper and you realize there’s much more to it. It’s the everyman’s unbreakable spirit holding off against a greater force. No matter what life throws at you, even when you get knocked down, you can still get up and persevere. It’s also a great protest song, capturing the spirit of those who feel disenfranchised by the government and won’t go down easily until the day is won. Even without context, this song is still awesome with its energetic production, the chanting anthem-like chorus, and overall catchiness that stays in your head for days. A bit repetitive near the end, but it doesn’t ruin the song at all. Tubthumping, it functions as both great social-political commentary and a slamming party jam and it’s the best song of the 90s.
So that was my list of the best songs of the 90s decade. What are your favorite songs from the 90s? Comment below and let me know. Next month, we start our journey BACK TO THE 2000s with the Worst Songs of 2000.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
People Of The Sun-Rage Against The Machine
Keep Cool-Major Lazer ft Shaggy & Wynter Gordon