This article is about the American Billboard Hot 100 chart held during the 1990s. The Billboard Hot 100 chart is the main song chart of the American music industry and is updated every week by the Billboard magazine. During the 1990s the chart was based collectively on each single's weekly physical sales figures and airplay on American radio stations. Key. ♪ – Number-one single of the year.
There's so much to love about the '90s. It was a time when it was perfectly acceptable to wear denim skirts with gigantic flower hats (a la Lisa from Saved By The Bell), everyone was either Team Kelly or Team Brenda, and Jared Leto was just that hot guy from TV who hadn't yet gone "method." (Plus, no one knew that trans fats could kill us yet, so our food all tasted ridiculously delicious!) The '90s were truly a special time, and it's no wonder that we all feel a pang of nostalgia for this decade.
Nothing quite brings you back to the good old days like '90s music, and even those of us who prefer far hipper music today have to admit that of any decade. You may not have thought about Savage Garden since the clock struck midnight on the year 2000, but that doesn't mean that hearing "Truly Madly Deeply" won't give you all of the feels if played today.
Are you looking to throw a '90s theme party, aka an excuse to finally show off your scrunchy collection? Your party playlist is handled: here is a list of the best '90s pop songs, in no specific order, that will prove to your friends that you're as cool as the Fresh Prince himself.
1. "Nothing Compares 2 U," Sinead O'Connor (1990)
top 100 pop songs of the 90s list - The Best 100 Songs From the 1990s
Pop music does not really belong to any category and is broadly referred to as the hippest and popular songs, as per the box office reviews. This means that pop music is charted by the number of sales, plays, etc. i.e. according to the popularity of the piece for a tracked period of time. The most amiable characteristic of pop music is that anybody can enjoy it, without any formal knowledge of the genre.
Moreover, when it comes to pop music, one does not require following artistic aesthetics. It is solely dedicated to the entertainment of the audience and commercial success.
The term pop music was initially the short form of popular music and was later evolved. For a comprehensive list of best and the most popular pop songs of all times, read on.
• Somebody's Me (Enrique Iglesias) • Peat (Lil Wayne) • Leavin (Jesse McCartney) • Got Money (Lil Wayne) • Beat It (Michael Jackson) • Violet Hill (Coldplay) • Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani) • Graduation - Friends Forever...(Vitamin C) • Baby Boy (Beyonce, Sean Paul) • Bleed It Out (Linkin Park) • The Way I Am (Eminem) • Like Toy Soldiers (Eminem) • It Wasn't Me (Ducent, Ricardo "RikRok", S) • Because of You (Kelly Clarkson) • Bust It Bab, Pt.
2, feat. N...(Plies) • Realize (Colbie Caillat) • Damaged (Danity Kane) • Please Excuse My Hands (Plies) • Lovers And Friends (Lil Jon, The Eastside Boyz) • A Broken Wing (Martina McBride) • Beautiful Liar (Beyonce, Shakira) • La La (Lil Wayne) • Thriller (Michael Jackson) • Clumsy (Fergie) • Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey) • Baby One More Time (Britney Spears) • Beauty And The Beast (Celine Dion, Peabo Bryson) • A New Day Has Come (Celine Dion) • Kung Fu Fighting (Carl Douglas) • Because You Loved Me (Celine Dion) • Do You Know?
,The Ping Pong...(Enrique Iglesias) • Home (Daughtry) • You're Beautiful (James Blunt) • Ur So Gay (Katy Perry) • Don't Turn Off The Lights (Enrique Iglesias) • Ring Of Fire (Johnny Cash) • Axel F (Crazy Frog) • Love Song (Sara Bareilles) • As Long As You Love Me (Backstreet Boys) • A Hard Day's Night (The Beatles) • Finally (Fergie) • Piece of Me (Britney Spears) • Give It 2 Me (Madonna feat.
Paul Oakenfol...) • Take A Bow (Rihanna) • (This Ain't) No Thinkin' Th...(Trace Adkins) • Just Lose It (Eminem) • Fall for You (Secondhand Serenade) • The Time of My Life (David Cook) • Summertime (New Kids On The Block) • P.I.M.P. (50 Cent) • I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) • Hot (Avril Lavigne) • Boombastic (Shaggy) • We Will Rock You/We Are The...(Queen) • When You're Gone (Avril Lavigne) • Stuntin' Like My Daddy (Birdman, Lil Wayne) • Break the Ice (Britney Spears) • Hey Jude (The Beatles) • Hotel California (Eagles) • All By Myself (Celine Dion)
From a pop musical standpoint, the 1990s was one of the most eclectic, and the best songs of the decade still sound fresh today. New acts like Nirvana changed the way people listened to rock music, while established stars like Madonna had the biggest hits of their careers.
Boy bands and divas dominated the pop and dance charts, while East and West Coast rappers gave hip-hop a fresh sense of urgency. So who were some of the biggest acts of the 1990s? Mariah Carey had more No. 1 hits than anyone else during that decade. Other artists who dominated the charts included Janet Jackson, Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, and TLC. At the beginning of the '90s, Seattle birthed the grunge movement, which melded punk and hard rock, producing such influential bands as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
As the decade progressed, grunge was absorbed into the larger, radio-friendly "alternative rock" genre, then gave way to aggro-rock and nu-metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park at the end of the decade. Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers rejuvenated electronica, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks spurred a resurgence in the popularity of country music, and Jay-Z and Tupac Shakur brought new life to hip-hop.
The emergence of 's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" as a top-10 pop hit remains one of the most dramatic events in 1990s pop music. Kurt Cobain's sardonic ode to teenage angst, set to a pop melody pounded out by drums and guitars bathed in fuzzed-up distortion, rattled the pop music establishment. It was all accompanied by a music video that presented a memorable and unrelentingly dark view of the classic high school pep rally.
had arrived. While their swiftly growing group of adoring fans waited for a second album, Boyz II Men recorded this ballad for the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy film "Boomerang." The four-part crooning and gorgeous pleading fade are irresistible.
Along with 's "I Will Always Love You," this became the second hit of 1992 to place on the all-time top-10 list of pop hits. Although no one is likely to assert that "Whoomp! (There It Is)" is art, it is possibly the most popular party single of the last 25 years. The incessant chant of "Whoomp! (There It Is)" could also be heard for many years as part of the soundtrack for breaks in sports events of all kinds.
This is hip-hop at its most mindlessly fun. The original version of "" was written and recorded by Dolly Parton. Whitney Houston's version was included on the soundtrack to the film "The Bodyguard," in which she starred along with Kevin Costner. With this song, one of music's most beautiful voices meets one of the most stunning ballads ever written, and it made history, becoming the biggest pop hit of all time.
Prior to 1995, Coolio was mostly known for lighter, more humorous hip-hop, which provided an alternative to West Coast . Riveting and atmospheric, "Gangsta's Paradise" was such a shift in focus that Coolio's record label decided to leave it off his solo album and instead put it on the soundtrack to the film "Dangerous Minds." When released as a single, "Gangsta's Paradise" became one of the biggest hits of the year, spreading its social commentary on ghetto life from coast to coast.
It's difficult to remember now the image of Sinead O'Connor prior to the controversial television appearances that nearly brought down her career, but few pop performers have put together more powerful, heart-stopping performances than this.
The song itself, written by Prince, is outstanding, but Sinead's emotional, gutsy performance made it a classic. Painful loss meets stunning vocal beauty with a perfectly understated instrumental arrangement. With the grunge revolution lurking just over the horizon, R.E.M., pioneers of alt-rock, burst into the mainstream with this song. Sparking dozens of conversations about its meaning, "Losing My Religion" is, in its most basic sense, a gorgeous folk-influenced pop tune about the feeling of going crazy.
Alanis Morissette's debut sent shock waves through the music industry. No pop singer had ever laid bare the anger and pain of a relationship gone bad quite so explicitly.
"You Oughta Know" clearly touched a nerve and led audiences into the complex, intricate songcraft of the phenomenally successful "Jagged Little Pill" album. LL Cool J established himself as a top hard-edged rapper while still a teenager. By the end of the 1980s, though, he was being accused of selling out to pop audiences. "Mama Said Knock You Out" is his response to the criticism.
It's a hard-hitting, aggressive rap classic that brought together both rap and pop audiences and cemented LL's status as one of the top rap artists of all time. The R&B trio TLC electrified the pop music world with their phenomenal album "Crazysexycool," released in 1994. Then it was a five-year wait for the next installment. Fortunately, "Fan Mail" was nearly as good as its predecessor. "No Scrubs," the leadoff single, is pitch-and-picture-perfect late '90s R&B. If any major pop hit from 1994 could be described as coming from left field, it would be Beck's "Loser." It's a bit like welding a killer self-deprecating chorus to Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." In the years to come, Beck would prove "Loser" was just a drop in the deep well of his creativity.
Ricky Martin began his career as a lead singer with the legendary Menudo. By 1999, he was a household name with Latin music audiences. When "Livin' La Vida Loca" dropped, the English-speaking world discovered what they had been missing.
It's irresistibly sexy and nearly impossible to listen to without moving the body. Who would have thought legendary Latin guitarist would record one of the biggest pop hit singles of all time? Add to that, who would have thought its vocalist would be the lead singer for post-grunge band Matchbox 20? But it happened, and "Smooth" deserved its subsequent sales and acclaim. In 2005, proved his performance on "Smooth" was no fluke by putting out the stellar solo album "...Something to Be." Although they are best known for a long string of rock hits going back to the 1970s, this ballad, written by Robert John "Mutt" Lange, was one of the group's biggest pop hits.
The record's theme—a long night of lovemaking with a hitchhiker—was initially controversial, but at its core it's a fun fantasy straight out of a romance novel. The upbeat feel of Blind Melon's biggest hit, "No Rain," stands in contrast to the band's tragic history.
Lead vocalist Shannon Hoon battled drug addiction through much of the early '90s and would be dead by late 1995 at the age of 28. Although many people remember the video for its sweet "dancing bee girl," the tune itself is much darker, outlining the efforts of bassist Brad Smith to cope with his girlfriend's struggles with clinical depression.
By the time the '90s headed to a close, it had been eight years since Whitney Houston had put out a studio album. Music industry legend convinced her to record a new set of songs, and the resulting album, "My Love Is Your Love," includes some of her best work. "It's Not Right, But It's Okay" is a hard-hitting anthem for women on the way out of relationships that sounds great on the radio and on the dance floor. Arrested Development finished their banner year by being awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist of 1992.
The spiritual quest detailed in "Tennessee" was a big part of the band's success. The uplifting, intelligent lyrics and positive tone seemed to herald a new direction for rap, but it turns out that the gangsta takeover, just a year away, would win out. For many, the mileage varied on the Barenaked Ladies' breakthrough hit. Its pure kinetic energy certainly invigorated pop radio playlists, debuting at No.
3 before eventually spending, appropriately enough, one week at No. 1. Although a little of its cheeky, self-indulgent humor can go a long way, few songs epitomize 90s pop like "One Week." R.E.M.'s album "Automatic for the People" is one of the top artistic achievements of '90s pop music, and "Man on the Moon" is one of the most memorable and beautiful songs from that album.
It is both a moving tribute to comedian Andy Kaufman and a thoughtful meditation on the power of popular culture. If you don't know its history, this song might seem a bit treacly, and it's certainly no match for a number of other Eric Clapton classics. But given that this gentle ballad was written in response to the death of Clapton's young son, Conor, it becomes one of the greatest songs of sorrow and comfort ever written. It was part of the soundtrack to the film "Rush," and Clapton's "Unplugged" album featured the even more popular acoustic rendition.
This heartbreaking song about the end of a longtime love affair is somewhat of a stylistic anomaly given the rest of No Doubt's ska- and punk-influenced work. Still, it served to make the group's lead vocalist, Gwen Stefani, a bona fide star. The song's irresistible pop hooks kept it on the chart for most of the year. "Good Vibrations" introduced the world to Mark Wahlberg (aka Marky Mark), the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg, a member of .
Mark Wahlberg had a history of scrapes with the law as a teenager, but his ready-for-video buffed body and good looks, combined with energetic dance beats and Loleatta Holloway's diva-esque vocals, made for a smash pop hit.
Mark Wahlberg never repeated this musical success, but he has moved on to be a well-respected movie actor. This song demonstrates exactly why we fell in love with the music of R. Kelly, if not the man.
The a cappella anguish in Kelly's voice in the song's opening is brilliant, and it becomes an amazingly sexy song. "Bump 'N Grind" connects the vocal stylings of early '90s new jack swing with the romance of classic R&B. Us3 created a unique sound by placing contemporary rap rhymes on top of samples of classic jazz from the Blue Note record label. "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)" is built on a Herbie Hancock sample from "Cantaloupe Island." The fusion didn't always work well, but this time it did, and the overall effect is eminently engaging.
In the wake of the disintegration of New Edition, three of the group's members, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe, proved that Bobby Brown wasn't the only breakout talent in the group. The hard-edged funky R&B of "Poison" spearheaded the development of new jack swing as one of the freshest sounds in R&B in a decade. This effortless mainstream pop nugget followed Page's success as songwriter of such hits as Starship's "We Built This City" and Heart's "These Dreams." "In the House of Stone and Light" is not artistically innovative, but it nearly perfectly encapsulates the mainstream of pop circa 1995.
Page faded from the airwaves not long after this one hit. For a brief period of time in the 1990s (see Faith No More), it seemed that the marriage of edgy rock and hip-hop could actually become a thing. "Jump Around" is proof that the union could either be incredibly infectious or annoying, depending on one's tolerance for the incessant siren that accompanies the pounding beats.
Unfortunately, House of Pain never did recapture this moment of greatness. Some might dismiss this song as simply a novelty hit, but it deserves closer listening. As hip-hop was moving further into the mainstream, this group from Oakland distinguished itself by backing goofy raps with hot Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired funk. Rarely has a pop classic made sex sound so fun and funny. This is arguably the last great single. It features Guns 'n Roses guitarist Slash ushering in an uplifting message about racial unity.
As was the norm for Michael Jackson releases at the time, the song was accompanied by a big-budget video. This one was directed by John Landis and featured actors Macaulay Culkin, George Wendt, and Peggy Lipton. Sarah McLachlan's voice is almost otherworldly in its beauty. This single came out as the all-female Lilith Fair concert tour, organized by McLachlan, was just kicking into gear. It remains one of the anthems of that particular period, when women in rock were asserting themselves on the airwaves and on the stage.
Taken from Janet Jackson's hit-filled concept album "Rhythm Nation: 1814," "Escapade" at first seems like a simple, light piece of pop fluff. After listening to it multiple times, however, its escapist charm sinks in. This was one of the most joy-filled hits of 1990, an atmosphere further enhanced by the accompanying video. This medley will win no prizes for art, but it welds together some of the most popular songs used at sporting events and was nearly inescapable in 1997.
Kicking off with the immortal "Are you ready to rumble..." this pop culture artifact is sure to get your blood pumping with snippets from such tracks as "Whoomp! There It Is," "It Takes Two," "YMCA," and "Pump Up the Jam." The voice of Counting Crows' lead vocalist, Adam Duritz, is a magnificent instrument. "Mr. Jones" introduced music fans to the singer's amazing ability to tell a story within the context of a song.
Try to sing along, and after you finish gasping for breath, you'll realize just how phenomenal this performance is. This single and the album it came from, "Chronic," took hip-hop down an entirely new road, one that would eventually be known as gangsta rap. "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" features Dre's protege , who would soon become a star on his own.
Fat, Parliament-style funky beats, laidback rap vocals, words reflecting the violence of life on the street, and pop hooks combined for a tremendously successful new sound. Inspired by the powerful beats of house music, hit after hit crossed over from the dance chart to the pop top-10 in 1990—but it took producers Robert Clivilles and David Cole (aka C&C Music Factory) to climb all the way to No.
1. "Gonna Make You Sweat" featured the powerful vocals of Martha Wash and a rap from Freedom Williams along with state-of-the-art house rhythms to make up one of the most exhilarating songs of the year.
Jonathan Demme's "Philadelphia" was the first big-budget, mainstream motion picture to deal directly with the AIDS epidemic, and "Streets of Philadelphia" is the perfect theme for it. With it, Springsteen creates an atmosphere of darkness and loneliness that still manages to maintain a sense of dignity. The song won a much-deserved Academy Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture.
The importance of MC Hammer to pop music history was his ability to prove without a doubt that rap could be as effortlessly entertaining as any other musical genre. "U Can't Touch This" is little more than Hammer's simple rap superimposed over Rick James' "Super Freak," but the image of Hammer working the crowd in his oversized parachute pants is one of the most memorable pop cultural moments of 1990. Selected to play a key role on the soundtrack for Robert Altman's exploration of the fashion world in the movie "Pret-a-Porter," "Here Comes the Hotstepper" brought dancehall into the mainstream, and introduced the world to Jamaican slang for a man on the run from the law.
It remains one of the catchiest songs of the mid-'90s. After the far too early breakup of the Fugees, the music world waited impatiently for Lauryn Hill's first solo effort. The wait was worth it. "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" is one of the top albums of the decade, and "Doo Wop (That Thing)" is a brilliantly tuneful dissection of sexual politics from the point of view of both genders.
Rap star Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) was tragically gunned down in March 1997. His recording partner, Puff Daddy—now known alternately as Sean Combs, P Diddy, or just Diddy—put together this moving memorial with Smalls' widow, Faith Evans, and the vocal group 112.
It memorably samples the Police classic "Every Breath You Take" and became a favored memorial track of the late '90s. In March 1990, Gloria Estefan, her husband, and her son were all injured when a truck struck their tour bus. Gloria suffered a fractured vertebra and was unable to tour for a year. The accident and long recovery inspired this gorgeous hit ballad.
"Coming out of the Dark" is now considered one of the top inspirational pop hits of all time. It's ironic that a gentle ballad became the breakthrough hit for a band best known for blending classic uptempo funk with alternative rock. The song emerged out of lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis' struggles to overcome heroin addiction. After the addiction destroyed a number of his personal relationships, Kiedis reflected on his relationship with the city of Los Angeles itself. "Under the Bridge" made it all the way to No.
2 on the pop singles chart. After their dramatic success with "The Joshua Tree" and an epic concert tour of the U.S., U2 completely reinvented their musical style on the album "Achtung Baby." Glorious pretensions gave way to some of the sexiest funky rock of the decade. "Mysterious Ways" features sinuous guitar work from The Edge and gospel-influenced vocals from Bono that drive home one of U2's most uninhibited pop-rock songs.
Soul Asylum shot to the top of the ranks of alt-rock bands with this folkish classic. The video for "Runaway Train" was accompanied by advertisements about missing children, serving a powerful public service.
Many alt-rock fans abandoned Soul Asylum as having sold out to the mainstream, but pop fans pushed "Runaway Train" to No. 5 on the charts, and it became a well-deserved classic.
In a dance-happy pop environment, this trio swept in with a classic that still sounds half-retro, half-contemporary, and completely groovy. "Groove Is in the Heart" effortlessly glides across genres from hip-hop to house and funk. Guest musicians—including Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker, and A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip—boost the party atmosphere.
This was the song of summer 1990. "What's Up?" seemingly appeared out of nowhere, becoming a neo-folkie hit first on modern rock radio stations and then on the pop charts. Although it only reached No. 11, it has been a radio fixture ever since. The group never duplicated the success of this song, but lead vocalist Linda Perry went on to become a successful songwriter and producer, crafting hits for everyone from Pink to Courtney Love.
It was not really part of any album project but rather was added to the soundtrack album of "Dick Tracy." "Vogue" was also significantly late in spotlighting the underground world of "voguing," but it is possibly the most perfect dance song has ever recorded. The acclaimed David Fincher video wraps up a stunning pop-dance package. No one really doubted Cher would eventually make another musical comeback, but this time it became the biggest hit of her entire career. "Believe" is a perfect piece of dance-pop, and it took the entire world by storm.
More dance hits followed in its wake, along with a farewell concert tour that lasted more than three years. Cher is certainly someone who believes in "life after love." "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was originally released in 1988, but upon its inclusion in the "Benny and Joon" movie soundtrack, the energetic pop-rock tune became a '90s hit and is now a classic.
The Proclaimers are comprised of the Scottish duo of Craig and Charlie Reid, who created an energetic, infectious brand of pop-rock with influences from their Scottish background. With the words "This ain't no disco. It ain't no country club either. This is L.A.," the world was introduced to the neo-folkie, irresistible pop of Sheryl Crow. "All I Wanna Do" unfolds like a mini-movie thanks to Crow's artful vocals, whose lyrics paint a luminous picture of the adventures of Sheryl and "Billy" "until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard." She first gained national notice as a member of "The New Mickey Mouse Club" on Disney's cable network, but it was as a pop singer that Britney Spears became the most watched celebrity in the world.
Her first single "...Baby One More Time" is a brilliant piece of pop music. It's catchy and sexy, and it sports a mildly controversial video that still has people talking today.
My 80's & 90's Rock Playlist