The 1990s was a blissful bygone era. Not only did it invent Nokia, frosted tips, Super Nintendo and other more, but also some insanely amazing music. The 90s was definitely the prime of the music industry; it was also a great and proud time to be a die-heart music fan, as most of the legendary masterpieces in different music genres came from the 90s, from the upbeat rap songs to different catchy yet memorable pop choruses, as well as the countless angsty hard-core rock anthems. Our team has been on a wild goose chase, narrowing down the best of the best among the numerous 90s hits. We still tried, and the following is a roundup of the 20 greatest songs that our team believes that every 80s/90s kid would know by heart.
1. "…Baby One More Time" - Britney Spears (1998)
Performed by the legendary “Princess of Pop” Britney Spears, “...Baby One More Time” has been considered as “the greatest debut in the history of pop music”. This iconic song is definitely one of the best 90s kids’ collective memories. It went platinum in the United States, double platinum in the United Kingdom, and even triple platinum in Australia. It earned the artist recognition for her music achievements with a Grammy nomination. It has been played at every school dance since 1998. After all, we will never forget that “...Baby One More Time” has given us the greatest gift of all: Britney Spears, who dominated and ruled the music industry in the late 90s and early 00s.
2. “I Want It That Way” - Backstreet Boys (1999)
You cannot exclude the Backstreet Boys when talking about ubiquitous 90s music. And there's no Backstreet Boys song more ubiquitous than “I Want It That Way”, Written by super-producer Max Martin, who has also produced songs for many great artists, such as Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Adele, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Shakira, The Weeknd, and more. This catchy masterpiece quickly hit the top spot in more than two dozen countries and earned three Grammy nominations.
3. “Ice Ice Baby” - Vanilla Ice (1990)
“Ice Ice Baby” kicked off the last decade of the 20th century and remained strong and iconic even up till now. Ultimately went platinum in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. The song has earned the People's Choice Award for Favorite New Song with its catchy and recognizable tune whenever it starts.
4. "Livin' La Vida Loca" - Ricky Martin (1999)
On March 22, 1999, Ricky Martin was just a regular ole child star trying to make it big until he released his “life changer”- “Livin La Vida Loca” the next day. He immediately earned himself a spot in the annals of pop music history. Not only did the gem win four Grammy nominations, but Ricky has also won male artist of the year at the Billboard Music Awards
, and the song peaked No. 1 for 5 weeks. Some say that the song was being played at literally every middle schooler's birthday party for the following decade.
5. “Bye Bye Bye” - *NSync (2000)
The N'Sync song that everyone and their grandmother can recite word for word is, of course, "Bye Bye Bye.''. It was a commercial success, peaking at number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and within the top 10 in almost every country it charted. The song received a Grammy nomination in 2001 for Record of the Year. It still holds a special place in the heart of every kid.
6. “I Swear” - All-4-One (1994)
"I Swear" is a song written by Gary Baker and Frank J. Myers, originally sung by American country music artist John Michael Montgomery in 1993. Although All-4-One's version established later in 1994 was a cover, it was more successful though and stayed at No.1 for 11 weeks.
7. “My Heart Will Go On” - Celine Dion (1997)
If you were one of the 90s babies, you would definitely have seen the Oscar-winning movie “Titanic” countless times. And every time you did, how can you possibly hold your tears when you heard this guaranteed tearjerker? Even if you didn’t, you still couldn't resist this beautiful Celine Dion’s ballad, could you? "My heart will go on" is one of the best-selling singles of all time. Plus, it won a Grammy for Record of the Year and an Oscar for Best Original Song. It is easily one of the best of the best songs in the 90s.
8. "No Scrubs" - TLC (1999)
"No Scrubs" was a definitive song performed by TLC. It peaked at No.1 for 4 weeks and spent 17 weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999. This signature song has earned the group their second Grammy nomination for record of the year. This song was an anthem for girls against jerks. In fact, it's so ingrained and iconic in the minds of '90s kids that, to this day, you can't swipe through a dating app without seeing some variation of "No scrubs". If you were born in the '90s and didn’t like this song, you can't get any love from us.
9. “Always Be My Baby” - Mariah Carey (1995)
This catchy ballad had an upbeat tempo getting people moving with the beat. “Always Be My Baby” was released in 1995, which was believed to be the year of Carey’s vocal prime. The song showed off Carey's ability to hit incredibly high notes and runs. It was a commercial success and hit No. 1 for two weeks, becoming Carey's eleventh chart-topper on the US Billboard Hot 100, tying her record together with Whitney Houston and Madonna for most number-one singles by a female artist at the time.
10. “The Boy Is Mine” - Brandy & Monica (1998)
You won't find a single '90s kid who doesn't know this iconic hit. After the song was released in May 1998, it spent a whopping 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and fueled rumours of an actual feud between the two pop princesses.The song picked up three Grammy nominations and won a Grammy for R&B performance by a duo or group.
11. “Wannabe” - Spice Girls (1996)
If you were born in the 90s and saw the word “Wannabe”, you would definitely be lip-syncing, "If you wanna be my lover/You gotta get with my friends" if you haven’t already. Released in 1996, the upbeat ditty introduced us to a new group of idols - The Spice Girls. "Wannabe" is all about female empowerment, and even though some of the lyrics make no sense, fans just can't help but sing along with them.
12. “I Will Always Love You” - Whitney Houston (1992)
“ENDAAAA-IAAA” Whether you have watched “The Bodyguard '' or not, you would definitely have heard of the tune before in your life. Whitney Houston's instant classic, "I Will Always Love You", is definitely massive yet inescapable. It’s not just a song every 90s kid grew up with, but everyone. It is so iconic that the song has made tons of memes even today. Although Dolly Parton wrote it as a country tune in 1973, Houston's version is a more successful hit that spent a jaw-dropping 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
13. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” - Nirvana (1991)
Is it possible to find another song that is more quintessentially '90s than “Smells Like Teen Spirit"? The answer is nope! This rock anthem was a great success in most countries, charting high on music industry charts worldwide in 1991 and 1992, including Belgium, France, New Zealand and Spain. It is a revolutionary song for the younger generation, and it was Nirvana's biggest hit and is still iconic until now.
14. “Creep” - Radiohead (1993)
“Creep” was performed by Radiohead as their first single, released in 1993. The song was not initially a chart success at first but became a great success in many countries later, including the United States. Although the band somehow got tired of the song and did not perform it for several years. "Creep" remains to be Radiohead's most successful single.
15. “You Oughta Know” - Alanis Morissette (1995)
This angry rock song was a departure from Morissette's earlier music. Released to positive reviews from critics, the single outperformed the label's initial expectations. The scathing lyrics
were perfect for singing angrily, now preparing yourselves with some rage and aggression, belt out this great hit with attitude!
16. “Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)” - Los Del Rio (1993/1996)
Los del Ríois’ "Macarena" is a Spanish dance song about a woman of the same name. First released in 1993 in the album A mí me gusta. This song became a worldwide hit roughly one year after the release of the remix of the song produced by Bayside Boys (Mike Triay and Carlos de Yarza) in mid-1996, in which the remix has added new English lyrics and became an iconic dance hit, with accompanying moves, that is still broken out at weddings and parties around the globe. The song lasted at No. 1
for 14 weeks.
17. “Un-Break My Heart”- Toni Braxton (1996)
Braxton originally didn't want to record this ballad, but thankfully she did. "Un-Break My Heart" achieved commercial success worldwide. In the United States, the song peaked number one on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release and stayed at the top for eleven weeks! The song also reached the same position on the Hot Dance Club Songs and Adult Contemporary component charts, which earned the singer a Grammy for best female pop vocal performance. When Billboard celebrated their 40 years charting from 1958 to 1998, the song was declared the most successful song by a solo artist in the Billboard Hot 100 history.
18. "Torn" - Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
Any '90s kid knew all the words to Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn." But what they probably don't know is that the song is a cover. According to The Sunday Telegraph, "As of 2011, 'Torn' holds the record for the most played song on Australian radio. It has been played more than 300,500 times since its 1997 release, an average of 75 times a day!
19. “Genie In A Bottle” - Christina Aguilera (1999)
How can we not include Christina Aguilera but just Britney on this list? Both of the pop icons are legendary and brought a great influence to the late 90s music industry! Released in 1999, "Genie in a Bottle" generally received favourable reviews for Aguilera's vocals on the track from contemporary music critics. The single achieved commercial success, peaking atop the record charts in 21 countries. The song will always be etched in the brains of '90s kids.
20. “Barbie Girl” - Aqua (1997) / “Butterfly” - Smile (1998)
"Barbie Girl" - Aqua (1997)
"Butterfly" - Smile (1998)
We have saved a spot for a bonus song here because, why not? Our team thinks that these two songs are just like couples, both annoyingly unforgettable yet timeless. "Barbie Girl" was Aqua's biggest hit in the states, and it is still iconic today. Many claim that this song hits differently when you’re not a kid, and it also took them years to finally realise what the song is actually about. Hmm..how about you? Does this song still hit you the same way today as it did when you’re still just a kid? Let us know! Although the dance song led to Mattel suing MCA Records, the song was protected as a parody
, and the case was dismissed. For “Butterfly”, this song is so popular that the melody and the lyrics are just insanely catchy and easy to remember. The song has also become an internet meme in the 2010s after being included in made-in-China toys. Some say that everyone would have a toy that would play this song, and we believe it’s true.
Next time when you're off to karaoke, use this as your playlist, and we can assure you that you’d have the time of your life! Now, are you ready to lose yourself and sink into a wave of nostalgia?
Get yourself an ISEE Karaoke. Let’s travel back in time and recall some of the best childhood memories with all these gems!