Prompted, inevitably, by the “1991 day” thread; what are the blog’s favourite songs of the 1990s?
My top 10 is (repeated from that thread) as follows:
Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
Juicy – Biggie Smalls
Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill
Protect Ya Neck – Wu Tang
Glory Box – Portishead
Shook Ones Pt II – Mobb Deep
Enjoy the Silence – Depeche Mode
Say It Ain’t So – Weezer
Don’t Let Go – En Vogue
Know Your Enemy – RATM
A combination there of my own personal tastes, the songs that had a major impact on the culture at point of release and the ones that have aged like a fine wine and still prompt happy times when they come up in conversation/on the radio. More than anything, they’re the songs that, in some strange way, define the decade from my perspective.
The 90s, for me, were the moment that all the barriers between genres started to collapse; a super exciting time when all sorts of things seemed possible. I was also a teenager for a good chunk of it, which inevitably helped. Some of the above are songs I loved in my adolescence (Say It Ain’t So), some I’ve come to respect over time (Enjoy the Silence).
Inevitably, even as I write this I’ve started to recall the classics I forgot to include: Geek USA, Nothing Compares 2 U, You Oughta Know (how did I miss that one out?), Original Nuttah, Sure Shot, Da Funk, This Is Hardcore, Live Forever, Animal Nitrate, Yes, It’s A Shame About Ray, Rez, E-Bow The Letter, Fu-Gee-La, Show Me Love, The Rain, The Boy Is Mine, Doll Parts, Hyperballad, Insomnia, California Love, Set You Free, Don’t Speak, November Rain, Regulate, A Design For Life. A Design For Life! What a record THAT is.
I always think that songs are much more interesting than albums. With albums there’s a greater pretence to serious artistry; it’s where the form gets a bit fusty and academic. No one is nominating a whole album by Brandy & Monica, whereas I can quite happily state that The Boy Is Mine is one of the best things I heard all decade.
A great song reaches out, grabs you by the throat and never lets go: it’s immediate and undeniable. And it’s also more likely to be truly definitive: most of my album memories from the 90s are me off listening somewhere on my own, whereas I will always always always remember how it felt to be 15, sat on the platform of some distant railway station waiting for a train that felt like it would never arrive and singing along at the tops of our lungs to the just-released Live Forver. Because it felt fucking magnificent. We shared that song, in a way that I’ve not shared many albums with others. Not really.
Anyway, enough preamble. I’ve listed above a ton of 90s classics. It’s over to you to list below your own favourite 90s tunes, and maybe share a memory or two that they conjure. I’ll pitch in with a few more if this thing gets any traction.