The 1990s were crucial years for many different music genres. It was a decade of musical perfection, from the rise of gangsta rap, alternative rock, and the riot grrrl punk movement to the sweeping shifts in country music and pop. Everyone had a sound that worked for them and their distinct styles.
While it’s impossible to create a perfect list for the era or include everyone’s personal favorites, we did our best. In this post, we’ll look at 15 of the best songs from the 1990s.
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15. “Baby Got Back” – Sir Mix-A-Lot (1992)
Few songs are as widely known and culturally pervasive as “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. It had contentious lyrics for its time, and MTV outlawed the music video. Nevertheless, despite those obstacles, it was still the second most popular song in America in 1992. Additionally, it spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Baby Got Back” is, at the very least, one of the most well-known 90s songs, if not one of the best.
14. “Don’t Speak” – No Doubt (1995)
Pop/ska/punk band No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” is an emotional masterpiece and one of the best 90s songs; it’s a tune to cry your heart out to. Gwen Stefani wrote the song when she and No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal split up. This song about heartache became a hit around the world. In 1996, it received the most airplay on American radio and continues to receive a lot of airplay now.
13. “Ironic” – Alanis Morissette (1996)
There are several songs on Alanis Morisette’s Grammy-winning album Jagged Little Pill, including “You Oughta Know,” “You Learn,” and “Hand in Pocket.” The most popular, though, was “Ironic.” One of the best songs from the 1990s, it stands out for its clever lyricism and angry yet self-critical tone.
Although the song’s creators, Morisette and producer Glen Ballard, maintain that it was done intentionally to make the song ironic, some have criticized the lyrics for not stating anything genuinely ironic.
12. “Macarena” – Los Del Rio (1995)
Los del Ro, a Spanish musical duet, wrote the dance song “Macarena” about a woman of the same name. A specific clave rhythm is used in the song. The song first appeared on the 1993 album A mí me gusta, and after being remixed by Miami-based producers The Bayside Boys, it became a worldwide smash and sparked a dance craze in the second half of 1996 and early part of 1997.
In the US, the Cash Box Top 100 and the Billboard Hot 100 were topped by this rendition. In 2002, VH1 named the group the “No. 1 Greatest One-Hit Wonder of All Time” driven by the song.
11. “Gangsta’s Paradise” – Coolio (1995)
The single “Gangsta’s Paradise” by American rapper Coolio was released on August 1st, 1995. Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise” was interpolated for “Gangsta’s Paradise,” featuring vocals by American singer L.V.
L.V. collaborated on the song’s lyrics and composition alongside Coolio and Doug Rasheed; Wonder is also credited with writing the music and lyrics. The Platinum-certified song was also a part of Coolio’s second album of the same name, Gangsta’s Paradise.
10. “Killing in the Name Of” – Rage Against the Machine (1992)
“Killing in the Name Of” is a timeless song still played and sung during protests and similar actions today. It was inspired by police brutality and inequity. Bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn and the late 1990s Nu Metal trend were heavily influenced by the song’s powerful guitar riffs and rapping. “Killing in the Name Of” is one of the best 90s songs, thanks to its rebellious lyrics and distinctive melody. The lyrics are regrettably still valid today.
9. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana (1991)
Nirvana and their famous song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” must be included on any list of the top songs from the 1990s. An entire generation could relate to the song’s rage and intense guitars. The song was made even more distinctive by Kurt Cobain’s senseless lyrics that somehow made some sense.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” popularized grunge rock and helped define the 1990s. Bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney were made possible because of it.
8. “Mmmbop” – Hanson (1997)
Hanson’s “Mmmbop” is one of the most memorable songs ever. Even without hearing it, you can internalize it. So it makes sense why it was ranked 20th on VH1’s list of the top 100 songs from the 1990s.
According to the Hanson brothers, the tune for “Mmmbop” began as a background melody for another song. However, it became a well-known and beloved pop phenomenon because it was simply too fantastic to be single.
7. “Believe” – Cher (1998)
Despite the South Park parodies, Cher’s comeback single ranks among the greatest and best songs from the 1990s. Billboard’s charts saw “Believe” reach the top spot. She was 52 then, making her the oldest woman to hold the top spot, earning her a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Warner Bros. Records put it out as the album’s lead single on October 19, 1998.
6. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” – Shania Twain (1997)
Canadian singer-songwriter Shania Twain’s third studio album, Come On Over (1997), contains the song “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” The song was written by Twain and her longtime partner and former husband, Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who also produced the track.
It was first made available to North American country radio stations as the album’s eighth single in March 1999, and it was made available internationally later that same year. A country-pop song called “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” with lyrics that promote female empowerment.
5. “Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears (1998)
Pop music’s future was altered when Britney Spears debuted in the late 1990s. Her debut single, “Baby One More Time,” which immediately shot to the top of the charts worldwide, marked the beginning of everything. The number of copies sold for this song exceeds 10 million.
Teenagers rapidly became Britney’s followers due to the enjoyable music video with the school uniforms, which was novel and unexpected on the music scene.
4. “I Want It That Way” – Backstreet Boys (1999)
The Backstreet Boys were unlike any other boy band that gained popularity in the 1990s. Every girl adored them, and every boy aspired to be like them. Their anthem, “I Want it That Way,” was one of the most popular songs of the 1990s and brought the group three Grammy awards.
3. “Wannabe” – the Spice Girls (1996)
One of the greatest earworms of all time is “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, with its catchy chorus and half-rapped lines. The Spice Girls’ career began with this song about female freedom, which helped to establish them as one of the most well-known female bands ever. Its position as one of the greatest 90s songs of all time is cemented by the fact that “Wannabe” is the best-selling single by a female band globally.
2. “My Heart Will Go On” – Celine Dion (1997)
This song’s demo, which Celine recorded in one take, is the same one used as an official soundtrack on The Titanic. So even if it seems ludicrous, it is true. “My Heart Will Go On” has sold over 18 million copies worldwide and is best known as the Titanic’s anthem. One of the best songs from the 1990s, it stands out for its catchy tune, straightforward yet meaningful lyrics, and Dion’s heavenly voice.
1. “I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Huston (1992)
Who hasn’t attempted to sound like Whitney Houston by screaming the song’s chorus at the top of their lungs? Let’s face it; whether you want to acknowledge it or not, we’ve all done it. A major success, “I Will Always Love You,” spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Dolly Parton initially composed and sang the classic love song. She wrote about Porter Wagoner, a country music legend who discovered her and their love.