Thirty of 1998’s best songs
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Nineteen ninety-four was not one of rock and pop music’s pivotal years. I didn’t realize how lackluster it was until compiling this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist. I always begin such lists with a look at the pop charts of the year being spotlighted. What a sad state of affairs they were in 1994! I found around 15 good songs that peaked in the top 40 that year, and included all of them in this list (except for Ƭ̵̬̊’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” which is not on Spotify). A few great songs came close to making the Top 40, such as Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” (peaked at #41) and The Breeders’ “Cannonball (peaked at #44). More great (mostly “alternative”) tracks would have made the Billboard Hot 100’s top 40 if not for Billboard‘s archaic rule that in order for a song to be eligible for the Hot 100, it needs to be commercially released as a single. Record companies stopped releasing many singles in the late 80s so as to force consumers into buying more profitable full-length albums. What that means is the Hot 100, which was supposed to represent the 100 most popular songs in the US, did not represent the 100 most popular songs in the US. And what mad the top 40 in 1994 was a lot of wussy drek. And Kurt Cobain died in 1994. Not a good year for music. Here are its gems:
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Inspired by the passing of Johnny Nash and the October 7 birthdays of Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke, John Cougar Mellencamp, Kevin Godley, Toni Braxton, Alfred Drake, Climax Blues Band’s Colin Cooper and The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner; and the October 6 birthdays of Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, Matthew Sweet, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Will Butler and Millie Small.
Inspired by the September 19 birthdays of Chic’s Nile Rodgers, Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, Tegan and Sara, Mama Cass Elliot, The Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley, Teddybears’ Patrik Arve, Skepta, Rex Smith, The Springfields’ Mike Hurst, Brook Benton, Lol Crème, Austin Roberts, Eamon, Marshall Jefferson, Adam West and Frances Farmer.
Inspired by the May 30 birthdays of The Clash‘s Topper Headon, The Marvelettes’ Gladys Horton, Cee Lo Green, Stephen Malkmus, Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave’s Tom Morello, the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, Devendra Banhart, Donna A., Benny Goodman and Remy Ma.
Inspired by the May 17 birthdays of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, George Johnson, Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans/The Alley Cats’ Bobby Sheen, Keith, A.L.T. and New Kids on the Block’s Jordan Knight.
Inspired by the passing of Little Richard and the May 9 birthdays of Ghostface Killah, Sam & Dave’s Dave Prater, Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, Billy Joel, Andrew W.K., Hank Snow, The Housemartins/The Beautiful South’s Paul Heaton, The Crickets’ Sonny Curtis, The Ventures’ Nokie Edwards, Cyrkle’s Don Dannemann, Clint Holmes and Tommy Roe.