Pop music in the 1990s continued the trend of teen pop and dance-pop that had began emerging in the 1970s and 1980s. It was also a decade that saw the popularity of hip hop continue to grow and many consider the 1990s the genre’s golden age. The 1990s was the good decade for rock music, with grunge, industrial rock, ska punk, punk rock and nu metal enjoying high levels of success. In fact, it was a rock song that VH1 voted as the greatest song of the 1990s.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a 1991 hit for American rock band Nirvana. Headed by Kurt Cobain, Nirvana were active from 1987 until Cobain’s death, by apparent suicide, in 1994. This song was Nirvana’s biggest hit, reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100, and is the hit that everyone thinks of when the band Nirvana is mentioned. Irish rock band U2 released the song “One” from their 1991 album Achtung Baby and it became a huge hit. Lead singer Bono wrote the lyrics and he was inspired by the band members’ fractured relationships and the Germany reunification.
One was released as a benefit single with all proceeds from the sales going towards AIDS research. One went on top top the Irish single charts and the US Billboard Album Rock Tracks charts, although it peaked at only number seven in the United Kingdom. Some consider One to be one of the best songs every written. The Backstreet Boys released “I Want It That Way” from their third studio album and it was met with critical praise with some critics calling the song the pop ballad of the year. Released in 1999, the song was nominated for three Grammy awards and is now considered the band’s signature song after it reached number one in more than 25 countries around the world.
Perhas the biggest hit of the 1990s was actually written and recorded in 1973 by Dolly Parton, who penned the song “I Will Always Love You” as a tribute to her one-time partner and mentor Portor Wagoner when Parton decided to go solo.
Parton’s version reached number one in the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart twice, but it is the version by Whitney Houston that most people remember. Houston sang the song for the 1992 film The Bodyguard and it became one of the best-selling singles of all time thanks to spending 14 weeks at number one in the Billboard Hot 100, and is the only single to have topped the United States, United Kingdom and Australian singles charts for at least 10 weeks. Since Houston’s death in 2012, several prominent artists have performed “I Will Always Love You” as a tribute to the fallen star. Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Edyta Gornial, and Jessica Sanchez are among those paying tribute to Houston with this famous song.
Which song was your favourite of the 1990s? Is it a personal favourite of yours or was it critically acclaimed by the music industry in the 90s?