Being a teenager of the 90s and a devoted music listener, I remember this decade to be musically pretty “torn“. Between techno, eurodance trash, the growing hip-hop culture, punkrock like The Offspring, Madonna’s constant re-invention of herself and endless other influences, it’s impossible (and I admit, probably unnecessary) to reduce the 90s to some defining songs.
But of course, what musically defines a decade also depends on personal taste, personal memories and feelings.
So I tried to come up with some songs that, for me, “define” the 90s. Songs that stand out, because they were very popular and are still remembered, because they are connected to personal memories, and because they are objectively extraordinary and – just great.
1. Duran Duran
– Ordinary World
This is a song that I tend to forget is one of my all-time-favourites. About every two years, I hear it on the radio accidentally and get completely swept away by it again. I love the strong vocals, the guitars, and the sort of epic, huge, “universal” feeling. Amazing...
2. The Beloved
– Sweet Harmony
The title says it all... This smooth dance track combines the flowing electronic music and soft vocals in a perfect way. It never gets boring, although it is a tad repetitive. It is hypnotic, dreamy and erotic at the same time. Of course, the video with all the naked people is sort of “influential”, too. :-)
3. The Cranberries
This is by far not my favourite Cranberries song, but it is still great and with Dolores’ headstrong interpretation, it was just so special and powerful back in its time that you couldn’t avoid it. 1994’s music was basically “Zombie” and nothing else. The album “No need to argue” was one of the very first really good albums I bought on CD.
– A Neverending Dream
While being reminiscent of playful 80s synthpop, it combines this retro feel with “then-modern” dance/trance influences. With its romantic lyrics and Claudia’s innocent appeal and angelic voice, this is maybe the most emotional dance track ever, and it is about as dreamy as dreamy can get. Very special.
5. Depeche Mode
This song is exemplary for their beautifully dark comeback album “Ultra”, which was the first Depeche Mode album I bought, and which basically started my love for melancholy electro/darkwave. So, a very defining album for me, but I guess also for the late 90s in general.
What are your defining 90s tracks?