“It’s been seven hours and fifteen days.” “Never trust a big butt and a smile.” “Rollin’ in my 5.0 with my ragtop down so my hair can blow.” So many memorable songs hit in 1990. Here are thirty of the year’s best:
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:
It’s Throwback Thursday, and on today’s playlist we go back to 1992. Compiling this list made me notice (or remember) what a kickass year for music 1992 was. The success of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a top ten pop hit around the world months after it was sent to alternative radio, came as a complete surprise to the band’s record label and management, and seemed to kick open the doors for weirdos and freaks (I use those terms affectionately) to find their place in the sun and on the charts.
The left field entries weren’t solely from the guitar rock field. Shakespear’s Sister’s “Stay” was a song (or two songs) that stood out from the pack and was not something one would have expected from a former member of Bananarama and someone who co-wrote and sang backup on Eric Clapton’s hit “Lay Down Sally.” And Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” endures all these years later.
To me this era was a golden age for hip hop. Arrested Development, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Kris Kross, Das EFX, Sir Mix-A-Lot and House of Pain hit creative peaks, while rap duo P.M. Dawn hit number three with “I’d Die Without You,” an unexpected ballad with nary a hint of the hip or hop.
Nineteen ninety-two was the year we met Mary J. Blige and Billy Ray Cyrus. It was the year many more people got to know Red Hot Chili Peppers, k.d. lang and En Vogue. And while new names were dotting the Hot 100, there was still room for more hits from Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Whitney Houston and U2.
Here are thirty musical highlights from 1992, a year that most definitely was not wiggida wiggida wiggida wack.
Nineteen eighty eight was, on the US pop music chart, one of those in-between years. The “New Wave” British invasion had greatly subsided and England wasn’t as much of a presence on the charts as it was a few years earlier. Rap was increasing in popularity and hitting the top 40 more frequently, though it was still a far cry from the dominant position it holds today. Of the hip hop song’s on today’s playlist, only two made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 – LL Cool J’s “Goin’ Back to Cali,” which peaked at #31, despite selling a million copies, and Rob Base & D.J. E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two,” which peaked at #36, despite selling two million copies. Alternative music lived up to its genre name as an alternative to the music on the pop chart, so if you wanted to hear Sonic Youth or The Dead Milkmen or The Primitives, you had to tune into college radio or the stations on the left side of your FM dial. Those artists, alongside U2, R.E.M. and INXS, could be found on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart, which premiered in September of 1988. New Jack Swing tracks from artists such as Keith Sweat remained popular on Black radio and crossed over, while Black artists such as Tracy Chapman and Living Colour failed to make much of an impression on Black radio. So-called Hair Metal was a presence on the pop chart; grunge would help fix that in a few years. Configuration-wise, CDs outsold vinyl LPs for the first time in 1988, though cassettes outsold both.
Inspired by the season and the December 4 birthdays of Jay-Z, The Beach Boys‘ Dennis Wilson, The Byrds’ Chris Hillman, Pansy Division’s Jon Ginoli, Freddy Cannon, Dionne Farris, Anna McGarrigle, Adamski and Southside Johnny.
Inspired by the July 25 birthdays of Sonic Youth‘s Thurston Moore, Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca, The Cyrkle’s Tom Dawes, and Rita Marley; and the July 24 birthdays of Sounds of Blackness’ Ann Nesby, Modern English’s Robbie Grey, and Jennifer Lopez.
Inspired by the July 16 birthdays of The Police’s Stewart Copeland, BROCKHAMPTON’s Kevin Abstract, William Bell, Desmond Dekker, The Searchers’ Tony Jackson, and Live’s Ed Kowalczyk; the July 15 birthdays of Linda Ronstadt, Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, The Buggles/The Art of Noise’s Trevor Horn, Years & Years’ Olly Alexander, Gregory Isaacs, The Heartbreakers’ Johnny Thunders, Alicia Bridges, and Pamela Myers; and the July 14 birthdays of Belly/Throwing Muses’ Tanya Donelly, Woody Guthrie, Jamey Johnson, and Cliff & Claude Trenier.
Inspired by the July 9 birthdays of Jack White, Hole’s Courtney Love, Marc Almond, AC/DC’s Bon Scott, Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brook, Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, Lee Hazlewood, Gwen Guthrie and Haysi Fantayzee’s Kate Garner.