Best Songs of the 90s
The Best Songs of the 90s was a decade of great music that still resonates with us today. From the grunge rock of Nirvana to the pop sensation Britney Spears, there was something for everyone on MTV. In this blog post, we will take you through some of the best songs of the 90s songs that defined the era.
We will explore iconic tracks like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and also “Waterfalls” by TLC as well as lesser-known gems. Such as “Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack. So get ready to relive the soundtrack of your youth. Or to discover these classics for the first time if you missed them back then. From R&B debut album to old Rap classics.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana is often regarded as one of the best rock songs of all time. It was a huge hit for the band, and it also defined the disenchanted spirit of ’90s youth. The song’s iconic opening guitar riff by Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl’s bass. Gave it an alluring vibe that pulled in listeners from all over. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains Nirvana’s biggest hit to date and is also considered a masterpiece in rock music history. This song brought Nirvana into the national conversation and has inspired countless artists to this day.
“Nothing But a G Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg
“Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg is one of the most iconic songs of the 90s. Introducing a new audience to Snoop Dogg’s unique style. The song features in Dr. Dre’s seminal album “The Chronic”. With its standout track making any car bounce with its groovy bass line and also skilled verses. It is no surprise that “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” would be on any high schooler’s most-played list. Fast becoming the decade’s most important song. The production and verses of all three rappers. Including Notorious B.I.G, also make “Mo Money Mo Problems” a brilliant song and another 90s classic.
“Juicy” by The Notorious BIG
The ’90s gave us some of the greatest hip-hop songs ever made, and “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G. is one of them. It is a gangsta rap classic that perfectly balances poverty and also fame. Showcasing the rapper’s talent for blending autobiography and bravado. Released in 1994, “Juicy” references a Super Nintendo and also a Sega Genesis, showcasing its early ’90s origins. The song is considered one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever made. Cementing The Notorious B.I.G.’s legacy as a ’90s rap legend.
“Common People” by Pulp
“Common People” by Pulp is one of the most iconic songs from the 90s. With its catchy melody and rhythm that still resonates with music lovers today. The song is a perfect example of how music can be used to convey social commentary. In a fun and light-hearted way. The lyrics are ironic, humorous, and also paint a vivid picture of class disparity. Released in 1995, the song served as a commentary on the state of Britain at the time. Where society was deeply divided along class lines. “Common People” launched Pulp into mainstream success. Making them one of the most celebrated bands to come out of the UK music scene in the 90s. Today, it remains an all-time classic and is still enjoyed by fans around the world.
“Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack
“Unfinished Sympathy” by Massive Attack is a song that stands out from the rest of the 90s era. Its iconic bassline and also haunting strings are just a few elements that made it memorable. The combination of soulful vocals, a danceable beat, and also its powerful message make it timeless. This song was one of the first to blend trip-hop, jazz, and dubstep with mainstream music. Its music video, directed by Baillie Walsh, is a visually stunning piece that perfectly encapsulates its message. All in all, “Unfinished Sympathy” is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time and still evokes emotions today.
“Waterfalls” by TLC
“Waterfalls” by TLC is one of the most iconic songs of the 90s. It was released on TLC’s second album, CrazySexyCool and also quickly climbed to the top of the charts. Written by Marqueze Etheridge, Organized Noize, and Lisa Lopes (Left Eye), “Waterfalls” earned a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. The music video for “Waterfalls” was famous for its social message that addressed issues such as HIV/AIDS and drug abuse. The video won several awards and is still considered one of the best videos ever made. Even today, “Waterfalls” remains a popular song among karaoke enthusiasts and a classic 90s hit that will never be forgotten.
“Enter Sandman” by Metallica
“Enter Sandman” by Metallica is one of the most iconic metal songs of all time. It was released as the lead single from their self-titled album. Commonly referred to as “The Black Album,” which has sold over 16 million copies in the US alone. This crossover hit brought Metallica mainstream success while still pleasing their hardcore fans with its hard-rocking sound. The band put in a lot of effort to make this song bigger and better than any other metal song at that time, and it shows. Its catchy chorus has made it a stadium anthem. With fans raising their fists and singing along every time it’s played. Even after decades since its release, “Enter Sandman” remains a commonly recognized metal song from any era.
“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips is one of the most iconic songs of the 90s. The catchy melody and memorable lyrics made it a hit. But what made it stand out was its empowering message of female friendship and resilience. The powerful vocals from the three-woman trio, Wilson Phillips, gave the song an extra boost. The music video featuring the band members singing on a beach matched perfectly with the song’s hopeful tone. “Hold On” remains a timeless classic that still resonates with audiences today as it did back in the 90s.
“Song 2” by Blur
“Song 2” by Blur is a flippant yet propulsive track that became an instant classic in the ’90s music scene. The song, which parodies post-grunge American rock. Became a huge hit and also swept up the very market it was meant to be mocking. Its nonsense lyrics and car alarm power chords have made it a staple at sporting events and post-match celebrations. “Song 2” is a perfect example of Blur’s unique sound and free-spirited attitude. The iconic “WOO-HOO” chant in the track has become a cultural phenomenon and has also been known to cause male onset zoomies. If you’re looking for a song that can make you lose your mind before you even know what hit you, then “Song 2” by Blur is the perfect choice.
“Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” by Deborah Cox
Deborah Cox’s breakout hit “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” is an emotional ballad that showcases her incredible vocal range. The song’s gentle percussion and chimes in the background amplify Cox’s circular thinking about dejection, hope, and refusal. The track became a sensation because of how Cox could make every note a spectacle. Before becoming a solo artist, Cox had spent six months singing backup for Celine Dion. Listening to this song will leave you awestruck as it takes you through an emotional journey. With the slightest shifts in her vocals leaving a lasting impact. The final sigh in the song shows Cox giving in after spiraling through intense emotions- admitting that she wasn’t supposed to care anymore. The song is undoubtedly one of the best songs of the 90s and continues to be a classic today.
“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion
“It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” by Celine Dion is one of the most epic and dramatic songs of the 90s. The song showcases Celine Dion’s powerhouse vocals, which are both haunting and romantic. Jim Steinman’s composition takes the listener on a journey through a tantalizing and passionate affair. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” is a masterpiece that will live on as one of the greatest ballads of all time.
“Freak on a Leash” by Korn
Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” is an iconic nu metal song that popularized the genre in the 90s. The hard-hitting track showcases a harsher side of rock and metal that was celebrated by fans. With “Freak on a Leash,” Korn propelled nu metal into the mainstream and paved the way for other bands to follow. The song highlights the potential of nu metal and the goals that bands in the genre aimed to achieve. Making it a timeless classic that still resonates with music lovers today. Korn’s contribution to the music industry through their hit song “Freak on a Leash” cannot be denied. Making it one of the best songs of the 90s.
“Both Hands” by Ani DiFranco
“Both Hands” by Ani DiFranco is a poignant and mature song about the end of a love affair. Recorded when she was only 18 years old. The song is built around trembling acoustic guitar and oscillates between slam-poetry cadence and the frantic trill of a Gen X Joni Mitchell. “Both Hands” tells the story of a formative relationship. That ends with someone whose gender is not specified but who has feminine physical features. This track remains one of DiFranco’s most popular songs. And it established her as a throwback to folk’s idealistic hippie era while also being an influential artist for sexual revolutions to come. It would take a few years for DiFranco to become the default soundtrack for coffeehouses and women’s centers. But “Both Hands” served as an excellent introduction to her work.
“Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms
“Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms is a classic 90s hit that still resonates with old and new listeners. Even though it’s not mentioned in every list of popular songs from the 90s. The song was a commercial success and reached #25 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The lyrics of “Hey Jealousy” were written by Doug Hopkins, who was a former member of Gin Blossoms. The song has remained one of their most well-known hits and is often played on classic rock radio stations. Whether you’re a fan of classic rock or simply nostalgic for the 90s. “Hey Jealousy” is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
“Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman
“Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman is a classic 90s track that still resonates with listeners today. The song’s bluesy guitar riffs and Chapman’s soulful vocals make it an instant favorite. The lyrics, which speak of perseverance in the face of adversity, are a testament to the power of resilience. The song’s signature call-and-response chorus, “Give me one reason to stay here/And I’ll turn right back around,” has become iconic. Recognized by music enthusiasts everywhere. Even over a decade after its release. “Give Me One Reason” continues to influence popular music and inspire new generations of artists.
“Feel Me Flow” by Naughty by Nature
Naughty by Nature’s “Feel Me Flow” is a classic hip-hop song from the 90s that still resonates with fans today. The song has a distinct, upbeat vibe, and its catchy lyrics make it an all-time favorite among hip-hop enthusiasts. Naughty by Nature cleverly sampled classic funk songs to create a unique sound for “Feel Me Flow.” The song’s memorable chorus and relatable themes provide an anthem for the 90s generation. It’s no wonder that this song is widely considered one of the best hip-hop songs of the decade. If you’re a fan of 90s music, “Feel Me Flow” is definitely worth listening to!
“How I Could Just Kill a Man” by Cypress Hill
Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill a Man” is a defining song of early ’90s gangsta rap. It introduced the world to the bong-toking cholos of Southern California with its boom-bap drums and also sampled horns that create a powerful anthem for disaffected youth driven to meet violence with violence. The song’s unforgettable beats and also raw emotional power have made it an often-imitated classic of the rap genre.
The lyrics of “How I Could Just Kill a Man” reflect the anger and also frustration felt by many young people in the ’90s. Making it a fitting choice for the category of “Best Songs of the 90s.” It was originally released as the B-side to Cypress Hill’s debut single “The Phuncky Feel One,”. Cementing its status as a classic of early ’90s gangsta rap.
“Lay My Love” by Brian Eno / John Cale
“Lay My Love” by Brian Eno / John Cale is a masterful collaboration between two of music’s most innovative minds. The song features lyrics that offer a monkish kiss to and from the divine. With a unique perspective looking southward from its point of view back down. The song’s lyrics are a hymn from a funny angle, with aerially suspended verses. The song also features a card from Eno’s Oblique Strategies deck of creative prompts. Which reads “Courage!” The beatific rush of the song could be attributed to the influence that each artist had on the other during their collaboration. Overall, “Lay My Love” stands out as one of the best songs of the 90s and showcases the immense talent of both Brian Eno and John Cale.
“New Noise” by Refused
“New Noise” by Refused is one of the most iconic punk songs of all time. The single was released in 1998 and featured on their album The Shape of Punk to Come. Although it wasn’t a mainstream hit, the song quickly gained popularity underground, and its music video became a cult favorite. Today, “New Noise” is still regarded as one of the best punk songs ever made. It has been covered by many bands over the years, including Rise Against, Bad Religion, and NOFX. This classic song from the 90s remains a timeless gem that continues to inspire punk rock fans around the world.
“I Will Always Love You” — Whitney Houston
“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston is a timeless classic that showcases the power of her voice and originality in music. The song, featured on The Bodyguard soundtrack, is a testament to her ability to convey emotions through music. Many people consider it as one of the best love songs ever made, and it never gets old. Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” features a dramatic and memorable final note that leaves an everlasting impression on listeners. Alongside Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby,” these songs have solidified their places in pop history as some of the best songs of the 90s.
“Don’t Speak” — No Doubt
“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt is undoubtedly one of the best songs from the 90s. Capturing the essence of early ’90s alt-rock. The song was released in 1996 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for an impressive 16 weeks. It received two nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone ranked it as one of its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and it remains a fan favorite even today. The song’s catchy guitar riffs, driving rhythm, and Gwen Stefani’s iconic vocals are sure to transport any listener back to the glory days of ’90s music.
“Ironic” — Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” remains a popular song more than 25 years after its release. Despite the ongoing debate over whether the lyrics are truly ironic. The song was the third single from Alanis Morissette’s third studio album, Jagged Little Pill. And topped the Canadian charts for six weeks. “Ironic” has become a karaoke favorite and is considered a staple of ’90s music by music critics. The feminist statement made by her Jagged Little Pill album was significant and had an enormous impact on many people. Including the critic who wrote about “Ironic.” However, language purists argue that the situations described in the song are not actually ironic. Regardless, “Ironic” continues to be one of the most iconic songs from the ’90s era.
“I Have Nothing” – Whitney Houston
“I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston is one of the most iconic songs of the 90s. The song is famously featured on “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, which was a huge commercial success. Whitney Houston’s powerful voice and emotional lyrics make this song unforgettable, showcasing her immense talent as a singer. Despite being released over two decades ago, “I Have Nothing” remains a beloved classic among fans of Whitney Houston and music lovers alike. It’s safe to say that this legendary song will continue to be remembered for many years to come.
“I Want It That Way” — Backstreet Boys
“I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys is an iconic song that takes us back to the 90s era. The catchy lyrics, memorable melody, and the boy band’s vocals have made it a timeless classic. The song has been popular ever since its release in 1999. And it continues to be one of the most played songs on radio stations around the world. Anyone who grew up in the 90s would recognize this track as one of the best of its time. It’s no wonder that “I Want It That Way” still holds a special place in many people’s hearts today.
“Gangsta’s Paradise” — Coolio
Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” is a Grammy-winning hit that rose to fame in 1995. This rap song is a Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” sample and also has continued to remain popular over the years. The lyrics of the song reflect the struggles of life in the inner city and also the desire for a better life. The music video for “Gangsta’s Paradise” comprises scenes from Michelle Pfeiffer’s movie “Dangerous Minds.” Where she portrays an inner-city school teacher. The song has been covered and remixed several times by different artists. Including L.V., Postmodern Jukebox, and more, making it an iconic part of the 90s music scene.
“Wannabe” — Spice Girls
“Wannabe” by the Spice Girls is one of the most iconic and recognizable songs from the 90s era. The song kickstarted the late 90s teen pop sensation. And its catchy tune and nonsensical yet effervescent lyrics made it a smash hit. The chorus of “Wannabe” is pure candy, while its supporting verses are buzzing with personality. The song embodies Girl Power and made a tween audience lose their minds in the mid-90s. Even if you don’t understand what a “zig-a-zig-ah” is. You can still appreciate the incomprehensible effervescence of “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls as one of the best songs from that decade.
“Baby Got Back” — Sir Mix-A-Lot
“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot is a classic song from the 90s that’s still beloved today. The song’s comedic lyrics and iconic music video made it an instant hit. But it also had a deeper impact on popular culture. It challenged societal standards of beauty by celebrating curves. And its positive message of self-love and body acceptance resonates with listeners to this day. The song’s influence on popular culture in the 90s was significant. And its legacy continues to live on as one of the best songs of the decade.
“Macarena” — Los Del Rio
“Macarena” by Los Del Rio is one of the most iconic and also memorable songs of the 90s. The song’s catchy lyrics and memorable dance moves made it an instant hit. And it quickly climbed the charts, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for a record-setting 14 weeks. “Macarena” became a cultural phenomenon, appearing in movies, television shows, and even at sporting events. Today, it remains a popular party anthem and is often played at weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its infectious energy and timeless appeal.
“My Heart Will Go On” — Celine Dion
“My Heart Will Go On” is a timeless classic by Celine Dion that rose to popularity as the theme song of the blockbuster movie Titanic in the late 90s. The song, initially written as part of the movie’s score, topped the charts in over 20 countries and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide to date. Although Celine Dion was reluctant to record it at first, “My Heart Will Go On” became her signature song and continues to be one of the greatest movie songs of all time. Her mesmerizing performance of this song is still a highlight at her concerts today, making it an evergreen anthem for music lovers across generations.
“Man, I Feel Like a Woman” — Shania Twain
“Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” by Shania Twain is an iconic girl-power anthem from the 90s. It was released as the opening track of her third studio album “Come on Over” and quickly became one of her most popular songs. The song has a catchy melody and empowering lyrics that inspire women all over the world. “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” is regarded as one of the best 90s country songs and also continues to be recognized for its impact on pop culture. Twain’s hit song remains a timeless classic and a testament to her talent as a singer-songwriter.
“Believe” — Cher
Cher’s “Believe” is a classic electronic dance hit that marked a new era for popular music. The bombastic chorus, thumping beat, and revolutionary use of Auto-Tune make it an essential party anthem. Cher’s vocals beautifully oscillate with synthetic Auto-Tune as she sings about recovering from heartbreak, making “Believe” a timeless track. Despite initial concerns from Warner executives about the effect, “Believe” became one of Cher’s biggest career hits, reaching No. 1 in the United States and more than a dozen other countries. It proved her staying power in the industry and revealed the typically clandestine use of Auto-Tune in an open and innovative way.
Influential artists of the 90s
The 90s was an iconic decade for music that saw the rise of several influential artists across different genres. Electronic and electronic-leaning acts like Aphex Twin, Moby, Nine Inch Nails, Stereolab, and also Portishead were among the most popular musicians of the time.
Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” is a timeless classic that has become synonymous with the 90s music era. It was released in 1997 and quickly became a chart-topping hit that still resonates with audiences today. The song has a unique ability to take listeners on an emotional journey through its beautiful melody and lyrics. Imbruglia’s talent as a singer and songwriter is showcased in this song, making it one of the greatest hits of the 90s.
The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the most influential indie rock bands of the 90s, and “1979” is one of their most popular songs. The track is a bittersweet slice of teenage Americana that perfectly captures the carefree spirit of the decade. Although it’s a relatively simple tune, it’s impact is undeniable, making it one of the most enduring and endearing songs in Smashing Pumpkins’ catalog. Its raw energy and catchy rhythm have earned it a place among the best songs of the 90s.
Britney Spears is one of the most iconic pop stars of the 90s. Her debut hit, “…Baby One More Time,” catapulted her to instant stardom and cemented her place in pop culture history. The song’s catchy melody and music video featuring a schoolgirl uniform became an instant classic. Britney’s first comeback hit, “Sometimes,” solidified her status as a lasting pop star, showing that she was more than a one-hit-wonder. These two songs are just a few examples of how Britney Spears dominated the 90s music scene and became an icon for generations to come.
Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men was one of the most popular groups in the 90s, and their music still resonates with people today. “End of the Road” stands as one of the best love songs ever, and it’s no wonder why it was a major hit in the ’90s. The song is an emotional ballad about the pain of ending a relationship and moving on. Another Boyz II Men classic that remains a timeless love song is “I’ll Make Love to You”. This song was also a major hit in the ’90s and continues to be loved by many today. The harmony of their voices and soulful rhythm make these songs unforgettable classics that will continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.
Soundgarden was one of the iconic rock bands of the 90s, known for their unique sound and style. Their music continues to influence popular culture today, with many artists citing them as an inspiration. The band’s lead singer, Chris Cornell, had a powerful voice that captivated audiences and helped establish Soundgarden as one of the leading bands of the grunge movement. Some of their most famous songs like “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman,” remain beloved classics to this day. Despite their tragic disbandment in 2019 after Chris Cornell’s death, Soundgarden’s legacy in the music industry will continue to live on for years to come.
The Beastie Boys have left an indelible mark on popular culture with their unique blend of hip hop and rock. The trio’s innovative sound was heavily influenced by punk rock, funk, and rap music, which they fused together to create a unique sound that resonated with audiences worldwide. Their music was groundbreaking, and also they were one of the first white groups to achieve commercial success in the hip hop genre.
Oasis is one of the iconic bands that defined music in the 90s. Their 1995 hit Wonderwall was a quintuple platinum chart-topper and named the ‘best British song of all time’ by Radio X listeners. The band’s music often evoked comparisons to the Beatles, with many debating whether they were simply a rip-off or an original group. Nonetheless, Oasis dominated the mid-90s with their dreamy hits such as Live Forever, which showcased their influences from the ’60s pop canon. Along with other legendary artists, Oasis contributed to making the 90s a decade of unforgettable music that still resonates today. Live Forever captures the essence of Oasis’ era, with its soaring melody and vocals, reflecting their dreamy and drug-induced times in the mid-90s.
Green Day was one of the most influential bands in the 90s, and their music had a significant impact on the alternative rock scene. Their song “Longview” was an anthem for suburban teenagers who were grappling with feelings of ennui and disillusionment.
The band’s early music, including “Longview,” helped to shape the alternative era by creating a distinctive sound that blended punk and pop influences. However, it was their single “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” that became synonymous with the decade.
Thanks to its timeless lyrics and sentimental melodies that perfectly encapsulated the bittersweet nostalgia of growing up in the 90s.
What’s the biggest hit of the 90s?
There were many hits in the 90s, with boy bands, pop stars, and country music leading the way. Garth Brooks and George Strait were particularly successful. The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” was a smash hit that helped kick off the late-90s teen-pop boom. In addition to pop music, grunge, rap, and hip hop also gained commercial and artistic success in the 90s.
What were 3 popular songs of the 90s?
Some popular songs from the 90s include “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls, known for its catchy chorus and lively personality, Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” which explored the anger of a broken heart and also helped pave the way for more female songwriters.
The 90s were a decade that gave us some of the most iconic songs in music history. From Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to TLC’s “Waterfalls,” the 90s had something for everyone. The music of this era was not only entertaining but also a reflection of our society and culture. Let us not forget Outkast, destiny’s child, Radiohead, rosa parks, Pearl Jam, Ace of Base, Madonna, Fugees, Ska, and many others. Such as Lauryn Hill and California Love, Timbaland, Shoop, Paranoid Android and everything else.