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The 100 Best Songs of the 1990s

When Elvis Presley died, Lester Bangs famously prophesized a future when music audiences would become increasingly diverse in their listening preferences.  Bangs wrote:

“If love truly is going out of fashion forever, which I do not believe, then along with our nurtured indifference to each other will be an even more contemptuous indifference to each others’ objects of reverence. I thought it was Iggy Stooge, you thought it was Joni Mitchell or whoever else seemed to speak for your own private, entirely circumscribed situation’s many pains and few ecstasies. We will continue to fragment in this manner, because solipsism holds all the cards at present; it is a king whose domain engulfs even Elvis’s. But I can guarantee you one thing: we will never again agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis. So I won’t bother saying good-bye to his corpse. I will say good-bye to you.”

Lester’s vision of cultural atomization became a reality in the 1990s, as audiences segmented into different genres/sub-genres and fewer artists impacted mass culture as a whole.  Therefore, everyone’s ‘90s list will be radically different, although there will probably be some consensus on the #1 song of the decade.  Here’s my solipsistic view.

 

100.  “Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now),” Cracker (1992)

99.  “No Diggity,” Blackstreet (1996)

98.  “My Name Is,” Eminem (1999)

97.  “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1993)

96.  “Lump,” The Presidents of the United States of America (1995)

95.  “Song 2,” Blur (1997)

94.  “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Ricky Martin (1999)

93.  “If It Makes You Happy,” Sheryl Crow (1996)

92.  “Self Esteem,” The Offspring (1994)

91.  “Waltz, No. 2 (XO),” Elliot Smith (1998)

90.  “Wonderwall,” Oasis (1995)

89.  “Sleeps with Angels,” Neil Young (1994)

88.  “Bad Reputation,” Freedy Johnston (1994)

87.  “Tubthumping,” Chumbawamba (1997)

86.  “Walkin’ on the Sun,” Smash Mouth (1997)

85.  “Wicked Game,” Chris Isaak (1991)

84.  “O.P.P.,” Naughty By Nature (1991)

83.  “Lake Marie,” John Prine (1995)

82.  “Kiss Me,” Sixpence None The Richer (1998)

81.  “Tom’s Diner,” DNA Featuring Suzanne Vega (1990)

80.  “Champagne Supernova,” Oasis (1996)

79.  “Cold Turkey,” Cheap Trick (1995)

78.  “One Week,” Barenaked Ladies (1998)

77.  “Loser,” Beck (1993)

76.  “The Humpty Dance,” Digital Underground (1990)

75.  “Bittersweet Symphony,” The Verve (1997)

74.  “When You Say Nothing at All,” Alison Krauss and Union Station (1995)

73.  “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Lenny Kravitz (1993)

72.  “Trying to Tell You I Don’t Know,” Freedy Johnston (1992)

71.  “When I Get Old,” Descendents (1996)

70.  “A Father and A Son,” Loudon Wainwright III (1992)

69.  “Gangsta’s Paradise,” Coolio (1995)

68.  “Creep,” Radiohead (1993)

67.  “Mama Said Knock You Out,” LL Cool J (1991)

66.  “One,” U2 (1992)

65.  “Even Flow,” Pearl Jam (1991)

64.  “Down with the King,” Run-D.M.C. (1993)

63.  “Thunderstruck,” AC/DC (1990)

62.  “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em,” Eric B. & Rakim (1990)

61.  “Lovefool,” The Cardigans (1997)

60.  “Kiss Off (Live),” Violent Femmes (1993)

59.  “The Way,” Fastball (1998)

58.  “I Touch Myself,” Divinyls (1991)

57.  “Cowboy,” Kid Rock (1999)

56.  “Cannonball,” The Breeders (1993)

55.  “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Sinead O’Connor (1990)

54.  “Cryin’,” Aerosmith (1993)

53.  “He Got Game,” Public Enemy (1998)

52.  “Indianapolis,” The Bottle Rockets (1997)

51.  “One by One,” Billy Bragg and Wilco (1998)

50.  “Hell is Round the Corner,” Tricky (1995)

49.  “My Life,” Iris Dement (1994)

48.  “Welfare Music, “The Bottle Rockets (1995)

47.  “Tearing Down This Place,” Freedy Johnston (1992)

46.  “Ladies First,” Queen Latifah (1990)

45.  “Ladykillers,” Lush (1996)

44.  “Seminole Wind,” John Anderson (1992)

43.  “The Road Goes on Forever,” Joe Ely (1992)

42.  “Standing in the Doorway,” Bob Dylan (1997)

41.  “Tennessee,” Arrested Development (1992)

40.  “Genie in a Bottle,” Christina Aguerila (1999)

39.  “Around the World,” Daft Punk (1997)

38.  “The Summer of My Wasted Youth,” Amy Rigby (1998)

37.  “They Got Lost (Live),” They Might Be Giants (1998)

36.  “Vogue,” Madonna (1990)

35.  “She Cries Your Name,” Beth Orton (1997)

34.  “I’m The Ocean,” Neil Young (1995)

33.  “Go West,” Pet Shop Boys (1993)

32.  “Brimful of Asha,” Cornershop (1997)

31.  “Wish Fulfillment,” Sonic Youth (1992)

30.  “Only Shallow,” My Bloody Valentine (1991)

29.  “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays,” De La Soul (1991)

28.  “The Impression That I Get,” The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (1997)

27.  “Cut Your Hair,” Pavement (1994)

26.  “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere,” Dwight Yoakum (1993)

25.  “Bound for the Floor,” Local H (1996)

24.  “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” Jay-Z (1998)

23.  “Remedy,” The Black Crowes (1992)

22.  “Flagpole Sitta,” Harvey Danger (1998)

21.  “Violet,” Hole (1994)

20.  “Epic,” Faith No More (1990)

19.  “Alive,” Pearl Jam (1991)

18.  “The Mountain,” Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band (1999)

17.  “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” They Might Be Giants (1990)

16.  “Oppenheimer,” The Old 97’s (1999)

15.  “I Want it That Way,” Backstreet Boys (1999)

14.  “Blue Sky Mine,” Midnight Oil (1990)

13.   “Jump,” Kriss Kross (1992)

12.  “Mo Money Mo Problems,” The Notorious B.I.G. (1997)

11.  “Groove Is in the Heart,” Deee-Lite (1990)

10.  “Only Happy When it Rains,” Garbage (1996)

9.    “Love Sick,” Bob Dylan (1997)

8.    “I Try,” Macy Gray (1999)

7.    “Losing My Religion,” R.E.M. (1991)

6.    “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” Lucinda Williams (1998)

5.    “Steal My Sunshine,” Len (1999)

4.    “Sabotage,” The Beastie Boys (1994)

3.    “Better Man,” Pearl Jam (1994)

2.    “Praise You,” Fatboy Slim (1999)

1.    “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana (1991)

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