1991 was the year punk broke. Or so we thought. While the alternative rock genre became mainstream in the early part of the 1990s, it really signalled the end of rock’s dominance over the music industry. The mic had been passed to hip-hop and its influence over pop culture remains unrivalled to this day.
These considerations were taken into account when putting this list of songs together. Once again, in my own personal experience these ten tracks represented distinctly what the 1990s was all about. Of course, as usual, leaving out artists already referenced in the earlier posts on the sixties, seventies and eighties. Here we go again …
Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot (1992)
“I love big butts and I cannot lie” – an iconic opening line that heralded a dynamic shift in beauty standards. This #1 song is your typical one hit wonder – a novelty perhaps but instantly memorable.
Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve (1997)
The British outfit’s big breakthrough was soured by legal troubles due to a use of a sample which ended up with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards being handed the copyrights. Again, an unforgettable introduction that hooked the unwary listener.
Enter Sandman – Metallica (1991)
Not quite Metallica going pop but with their eponymous “Black Album”, the thrash quartet turned into big league superstars. A hook-laden single that brought the band into the top 20 of the Billboard Charts.
I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy [feat. Faith Evans and 112] (1997)
This tribute to slain rapper Biggie Smalls would be representative of hip-hop’s pop ascendency. Sampling The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” (without permission), the song captured the imagination of the music world and was a massive success. A sign of things to come.
I Want It That Way – Backstreet Boys (1999)
Boy bands were immensely popular in the 80s and 90s, with the Backstreet Boys probably the most successful of them all. Ubiquitous at the time, BSB (and their contemporaries) would set the tone for the popularity of the current K-pop groups!
Losing My Religion – R.E.M. (1991)
It took R.E.M. almost 10 years to top the charts with Out of Time, their seventh album. The quartet probably did more than most in establishing alternative rock in the minds of the general public.
Sabotage – Beastie Boys (1994)
Though a minor hit when released, this propulsive rap-rock hybrid has grown in stature down the years and has been synched into numerous film soundtracks since. It has certainly become the go-to backing for cool action sequences.
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (1991)
Not much can be added to the legend of Nirvana and Teen Spirit – bursting out of Seattle, screaming and kicking and changing the face of the music industry. Well, for as long as it lasted anyways. RIP Kurt.
Wannabe – The Spice Girls (1996)
Girl power. No under-estimating the significance of this debut single from these English ladies. With its mixture of rapping and singing, “Wannabe” was yet another example of the hip-hop influence coming through.
You Get What You Give – New Radicals (1998)
We end as we began – with a one hit wonder. Not quite a monster as some of the others on this list BUT you cannot argue with its retro-soul vibe and cocky attitude, not to mention its irresistible catchiness!
So… what were your songs of the nineties? Let me know at the Power of Pop Facebook page.
… still there’s more …