The Top 3: 90s Songs

To celebrate its 40 years on air, our favorite local radio station has been re-visiting 40 years of music in 40 days. Meaning, each weekday, they’ll play music from a specific year and run with it. Scott and I have found ourselves particularly drawn to the days of 90s tunes, most likely because of the warm fuzzies (and sometimes not so fuzzy) they conjure up of our youth. We both attended junior high through high school during the 90s, and since I’m a complete sentimental sap, I’ve been soaking up that decade of music with a longing for the good old days (or something).

Over dinner the other night, we challenged each other to come up with our top 3 singles from those years, reminiscing on baggy flannel, Angela Chase and hard-core school crushes (okay, so really that was all me). In any case, we’ve been noodling over our choices for the last week, and we’re just going to put it out there. Here’s each of our top 3 90s songs (and just like the last top 3, it was stupid hard; we considered stretching the rules to a top 10!) Warning; it’s about to get ridiculous.

  • 1992: En Vogue, Free Your Mind. I still know every. single. word. I listened to that cassette so much, the audio tape had stretched, gotten stuck in my Walkman (remember those?) and warbled. I went so far as to save my allowance to buy it 2 more times after each little tragic incident.
  • 1996: Marilyn Manson, The Beautiful People. Maybe it’s because this was around the same time I was forbid to watch MTV (I snuck it in anyway; sorry, Dad!), or maybe it’s because we would “turn it to 11” on our morning commute to school. I just have to hear the opening few beats and I am so there, all over again. (I also feel the need to say, viewers, beware!)
  • 1992: Radiohead, Creep. Ah, to be an angsty teenager again.

  • 1994: Weezer, Surf Wax America. Weezer’s (first) self titled album played a large role in my personal High School soundtrack. Every word of this 41 minute masterpiece is still committed to memory, and it still gets a full play-through every few weeks.
  • 1993: Wu-Tang Clan, C.R.E.A.M. What’s cooler than getting a ride to school at 7am in your big brother Zach’s white Dodge Daytona with burgundy velvet interior? That, but with Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) bumping from the gigantic sub-woofers stuffed into the hatchback. Seriously, though, this whole disc has stood the test of time and is still in heavy road trip rotation.
  • 1991: Nirvana, Lithium. My dad heard Nirvana on an Indiana college radio station a few months before this album came out and returned home from work that day proclaiming that music was about to change forever. Turns out he was right. I remember my dad owning Nevermind before anyone we knew. I learned a lot about music from my Pops. He just turned 60 and still has solid taste in tunes.

Close contenders (is that allowed?): anything Ace of Base (The Sign is the most 90s video ever), any and all country sap, Mariah and TLC (me), and all things jammy, ska and pop-punk (him). Now that we’ve (um, I) sufficiently embarrassed ourselves, it’s your turn. What are your top 3 90s songs?

23 replies on “The Top 3: 90s Songs”

  1. I bet you 10 bucks that Indiana radio station was the IU Bloomington station – my dad listens to it too and always thinks he’s ahead of the times in music. He usually is!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Marcy Playground: “Sex and Candy”
    REM: “Losing my Religion”
    Hanson: “Mmmmm Bop”

    KIDDING on that last one ;) Although admittedly it was technically my first CD – I won it at some reading contest in school (God, am I a nerd).

    My real third pick? Let’s go with Foo Fighters “Everlong” – That guitar riff NEVER gets old.

  3. Ah, 90s music. I think my top 3 are:
    TLC, Waterfalls
    Foo Fighters, Everlong
    Alanis Morissette, Ironic

    You’re right! That was extremely hard. I don’t even know if these were my top 3 for sure, just 3 was really into.

  4. @Carrie – still love Mmmm Bop! Ha, no joke.

    Ashley – Alanis was when I finally entered the world of CDs. Still love her first whole album!

    Last night I realized how much I truly loved Mariah Carey’s Music Box album (seriously), and almost changed up the post. Scott went back on forth on Phish vs. Nirvana, but we decided to keep the list put. It was tough!

  5. Emily, if I took your bet, I’d owe you a ten-spot. You’re right. Your dad sounds pretty cool!

  6. So… I grew up in Texas, and most of the songs I remember from the 90’s are country songs. Here are the first three non-country songs I could think of, so y’all don’t think I’m a huge redneck. =P

    “Wonderwall” by Oasis
    “Are You Ready For The Fallout?” by Fastball
    “What It’s Like” by Everlast
    And Green Day in general.

  7. Rebel – bring on the country! “Strawberry Wine” was a close, close contender for me, as was anything Tim McGraw.

  8. “Free Your Mind” is still on heavy rotation on my “I’m attempting to be a runner” mix. And I may or may not have quoted it on the blog this week. Great lists, guys! Now I am going to go bust out my 90s station on Pandora!

  9. Dangerous Minds, Coolio–This instantly takes me back to my senior year at my upper-middle class suburban high school, sitting in my car, waiting for the buses to leave while this blasted from somebody’s car. To this day I don’t know of the irony was intentional or not.

    Peace and Love, Blessid Union of Souls-My college roommates and I listened to this album on repeat, and went to see them play at a festival. This is ”our” song.

    Strawberry Wine, Deana Carter. So cheesy nostalgic, and I went to college in Texas. It was a formative time. I learned, to love beer and country music. (But no Boones Farm, thankyouverymuch)

    3 songs was crazy hard. I graduated from high school in 1996, so the ’90s span high school and college for me. High school got the short end of the stick.

  10. Oooh this is so difficult! I’m sure my top 3 would change if you asked me again tomorrow, but here is what I came up with:
    1. Oasis- Wonderwall
    2. Warren G- Regulate
    3. Nirvana- Heart Shaped Box
    Ugh there were SO many good songs in the 90’s!

    1. We have a good friend who still loves his Oasis – to those that added “Wonderwall” to your list, you’d have a best friend in Chicago!

  11. What the what–how come S got top 3 albums and you were relegated to songs only? Regardless, heres my take on the challange:
    *silent all these years by tori Amos. What can I say, I was an angsty feminist
    *lovefool by the cardigans. Isn’t that on every suburban girls list?
    *paranoid android by radiohead. I absolutely hated the song and album when it first came out, but my friends refused to let me escape it–every party and every car ride had it on the playlist that summer. Eventually I realized the error of my ways and accepted the fact that it’s an amazing song

  12. Jessie- I didn’t pick albums. The songs on my list were my favorites from important-to-me albums. I guess I gave too much backstory. :)

  13. Side story…I taught 8th grade English for a few years. It wasn’t until I wanted to play 90’s music in the background did I realize how BAD (read: dirty) it really was!! Regardless, graduating May 2000, the 90’s will always by my #1.

    1. Everlong – Foo Fighters
    2. Good Riddance – Green Day (or anything Green Day, really…this sone especially, since we dubbed it our senior class song…along with 90% of the rest of America, I’m sure.)
    3. What I Got – Sublime

    Love me some 90’s on 9 Sirius/XM :)

    1. Hayley, “Good Riddance” is a guilty pleasure of mine. While I’m not a fan of Green Day, that song always stops me in my tracks – such a great reminder of the fun times in high school.

  14. LOL I think you pretty much hit them all for me – TLC, Nirvana, En Vogue, Ace of Base. Except I have to add Wonderwall like a bunch of other commenters, also anything Boyz II Men and Montell Jordan’s This is How We Do It was huge in my school!

  15. Emily,
    Phi Slamma Jamma! You busted me! Your dad and I would be best buds. Scott, thanks for the kudos! I will never forget Zach’s freshman year at Anderson High School. (Wrestling match vs. St.X?) The bad a%$ Anderson boys came out, to warm up, in the dark, to “Smells like Teen Spirit”. It was one of the most awesome entries I have ever seen. And, you know, I have been in the wrestling game all my life. I love that song! I get that song! It still gives me goose bumps! Long live Kurt Cobain!
    Dad

  16. Can’t pick just three, that’s impossible for such an influential time. But here are my thoughts on your picks…

    Kim: The ladies in En Vogue were fantastic harmonizers and I loved sitting around singing to their (and TLC’s) tapes with my friends… they seemed really cool, especially because they sounded really intelligent with a lot of sass, but never obnoxious. We would even designate who would sing each part, as if we were our own little a cappella group or something, ha. Speaking of…Boyz II Men were like their male group counterpart and ubiquitous at that time, though I now think they were actually pretty dorky, with the coordinated outfits, etc. And you know what a talent-crush I must have had on Mariah Carey too, from that car trip in PA where we imitated her every yodel and trill from memory for about 2 hours straight!

    I also remember having a bunch of Aerosmith hit EPs (“Cryin,” “Livin on the Edge,” etc.) on cassette, which my Dad and I loved to play endlessly in the car.

    Scott: your dad is clearly a smart dude. I was a little more partial to Soundgarden and Pearl Jam during the grunge period, but Kurt Cobain broke my heart with their stripped back and raw MTV Unplugged album (and I know some of those were covers, but they were excellent choices.)

    Weezer is definitely a crucial pick from that time too- every single kid I knew had that one in their giant case of cds : ) so it was like the great uniter if you weren’t sure what to play to please everybody!

  17. Love this post! And Scott’s dad! ;)
    I really got thinking on this and these were my true blue favs:
    10,000 Maniacs, These are the Days
    The Cranberries, Linger
    The Cure, Friday I’m in Love
    Mwa!!!

  18. Jill, those picks are so YOU. I considered “Dreams,” but decided it would have to be the top 10 – not 3!

    I have a soft spot for “These Are Days” – remember when we went to Florida together in 8th grade, and I stayed up really late to watch the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs? You and Kat had fallen asleep, but when the Avalanche won, I got all misty eyed and they played that song while the Avs hoisted their Cup in the air. That song MADE that moment.

    Love your choices!

  19. oh geesh, my mom brain typed “these are the days”…doi!

    i do not specifically remember you staying up while we fell asleep, but i’m sure kat and i did not care about hockey! we had to go dream about the boys at the pool!

    i love your choices too! i remember you girls singing free your mind in the bathroom while changing for gym class at mhc!

  20. When I’m looking for the latest country music, I always end up in one spot – 103.1 WIRK. I was even lucky enough to catch up with Keith Van Allen in the streets and got free ‘Rib Round Up’ tickets. Just one of the many events that keep me tuned into http://www.wirk.com

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