And for some reason, most of them happened to be made during the ’90s. Which isn’t to say the ’90s didn’t also have its fair share of great songs.
Dipping our toe like this into the ’90s nostalgia movement left us wanting more, so we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be “the most ’90s songs of the ’90s.”
The criteria was basically two-fold: the songs had to have been utterly ubiquitous.
And they had to be by bands who basically failed to make it out of the ’90s, in the professional sense. For example, Greenday’s music is still loved, but not their post-1999 tunes. Gwen Stefani has dropped hits, but not as No Doubt. Sublime lost Bradley Nowell in 1996 to a drug overdose and the band has carried on with a different lead singer. Cake is still touring and has released albums after the ’90s, but never really kept up the momentum.
We also heavily biased American bands — we’re sure the list would look much different in the UK.
We think we got most of ’em, check it out:
19) “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt (1992)
The song that launched this band into the stratosphere.
18) “Lightning Crashes” by Live (1994)
Anyone around in the ’90s can probably remember some weird moment in their lives tied to this song.
17)”Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees (1995)
The Fugees might be the only indisputably good band on this list.
16) “Plush” by Stone Temple Pilots
In retrospect a fine song, but at the time the advent of this band was seen as the death knell of grunge.
15) “In The Meantime” by Spacehog (1995)
A band that went nowhere, but a song that was everywhere.
14) “The Distance” by Cake (1996)
If you were cool in the ’90s, you were into Cake; if you were into Cake, you were cool.
13) “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States of America (1995)
The most mysterious band on this list, they vanished as fast as they came on the scene, leaving this quirky nugget behind.
12) “Run-Around” by Blues Traveller (1994)
Little-known fact: Popper grew up with the lead singer of another mega ’90s band on this list…
11) “Only Wanna Be With You” by Hootie and the Blowfish (1995)
This song violates some of the tenets of our intro: “Hootie” (well Darius Rucker at least) remains revered in the South, and this song remains a national anthem of sorts in the region.
10) “What I Got” by Sublime (1996)
Such a bittersweet song.
9) “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors (1991)
Together with John Popper, Chris Barron and his band Spin Doctors conquered the ’90s, then promptly retreated into oblivion.
8) “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette (1995)
Some believe this song caused a decade-long misuse of the word “ironic.”
7) “When I Come Around” by Green Day (1994)
Remember pre-lame Green Day?
6) “The Sign” by Ace of Base (1993)
From here on in, the rest of the songs are utterly iconic, starting with this one. That doesn’t mean they’re good though…
5) “California Love” by 2Pac (1996)
The height of West Coast rap.
4) “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band (1996)
The American “Wonderwall.”
3) “Wonderwall” by Oasis (1995)
The British “Crash Into Me.”
2) “I’ll Make Love To You” by Boyz II Men (1992)
Sex sells but it doesn’t always have to be raunchy. At the time, this song set a record for most consecutive weeks at No. 1 at 14 weeks.
1) “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows (1993)
We’re making it official: “Mr. Jones” is the most ’90s song of the ’90s.
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