The 90s brought us unforgettable pop classics that shaped the very fabric of our society. From setting trends to starting movements, music icons were at a point of influence where the whole world turned to mainstream music for inspiration. These 52 unforgettable 90s pop hits feature all of the best tracks and the artists that made the most significant impact.
“Lauryn Hill” by Doo-Wop (That Thing)
The soulful sounds of Lauryn Hill’s R&B megahit ‘Doo-Wop’ skyrocketed her into history, with her debut solo single winning the MTV Music Video of the Year Award as it drew worldwide acclaim.
“Barbie Girl” by Aqua
Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ started a worldwide dance sensation that cemented these pop stars into history as a one-hit-wonder that just doesn’t go away. It is as catchy today as it was when the whole world was singing along for half the 90s.
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden
With each word, and every moment of this 90s love song, each of us fell a little bit further in love. With feeling flowing, and emotion that makes you want to reach and hold someone, ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ was an instant legend from the moment it hit the airwaves back in’97.
“Waterfalls” by TLC
If there was one song by TLC that the whole world came to know and love, it was this wonder tale of life’s journey of ups and downs. With a little help from TLC, we all learned a little more self-control adjusting to the flow of Lisa Lopes’ dope rap.
I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston took a song from 1973 and wowed the world, showing us that she is both actress and singer unlike any other. Starring alongside Kevin Costner, Whitney recorded an all new arrangement to serve as the soundtrack to ‘The Bodyguard,’ bringing in the help of Dolly Parton to perfect the final verse.
“You Get What You Give” by New Radicals
As one of the first pop culture gems to show a society waking up, ‘You Get What You Give’ rose to number 30 on global charts but will never be forgotten. The track featured purposely controversial hits which played out as intended, drawing attention and a direct response from celebrities like Marilyn Manson.
“Torn” by Natalia Imbruglia
Natalie Imbruglia’s folk music lives on forever, with ‘Torn’ emerging as one of the best performances of her life. The singer-songwriter’s cover of rock band Ednaswap’s track has to be one of the most iconic non-original performances ever breaking airplay records in the UK while reaching the number one airplay globally.
“My Heart Will Go On (Live)” by Celine Dion
Whether the movie or the song is a bigger hit is highly contested, but one thing is for sure – there’s only one voice that has the power, flow and perfection to embody the essence of love so effortlessly. It’s the second best-selling single by a female musician in all of history, and one of the saddest stories ever told.
“Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot
This song may have been the start of a movement, marking the incoming of an era where the words “I like big butts, and I cannot lie” couldn’t be more accurate, well at least to rap and RnB culture worldwide. It even took a Grammy for Best Rap Solo!
“Man! I Feel Like A Woman” by Shania Twain
Country music has never been the same since Shania Twain made her mark on the industry with “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” The catchy track had such global appeal that it was her headlining song on two tours, and at Super Bowl XXXVII – stealing the show at halftime.
“Don’t Speak” by No Doubt
Ska superstars No Doubt reached all-new levels of popularity with this song of heartache and loss. Written about Tony Kanal, Gwen Stefani had originally written it as a love song before having to modify it to cover her breakup instead.
“Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey
Out of the many hits that Mariah’s “Daydream’ album delivered, this is one of the greatest commercial success stories. Not only was this the eleventh track to hit the Hot 100, but it also tied her with Madonna and Whitney Houston for most number-one singles for a female artist at that stage of time.
“MMMBop” by Hanson
MMMBop was nominated for two Grammy’s, reaching number one in at least twelve countries around the world. It’s been voted the top single in countless polls, with the simple lyrics and catchy tune that have come to be synonymous with the name Hanson.
“Wannabe” by The Spice Girls
Every girl growing up during the 90s wanted to be or be like The Spice Girls. This all-girl super-group trended globally with the song becoming an iconic symbol of empowerment as it rose to double-platinum status, and the number one spot on charts around the world.
“Never Ever” by All Saints
“Never Ever” will never ever be emulated. It’s a song that won both the Brit Award for Best British Single and the Brit Award for Best British Video, making it the best performance track that the English-Canadian trio ever released.
“Linger” by Cranberries
Linger was the first major hit for The Cranberries, and a song written about regret over love lost. The late Dolores O’Riordan whose death temporarily caused the band to disband rewrote the lyrics originally composed by Niall Quinn. She adapted it using the inspiration of her first serious kiss.
“Getting Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith
Little did Will Smith know that this very first number one would be but the first of many prestigious placements, records, movies, and even in-depth video blogs. ‘Big Willie Style’ went big, very big.
“Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child
The way that Beyoncé slipped syncopations into Destiny Child’s flow was a world first that may seem normal now, but that’s all because of the Queen Bee herself. The slow shifting bass with synth-heavy strings and the vocal riffs that couldn’t be better set all-new standards.
“Lovefool” by The Cardigans
From the moment that you hear the first few notes of this laid-back track, you know that you’re listening to The Cardigans. ‘Lovefool’ inspired a generation of hopefuls, while elevating this Swedish band to the status of legends within not only Europe but the rest of the world as well.
“I Swear” by All-4-One
‘I Swear’ is sang with emotion that can be felt in every note and word, feeling that’s been felt in countless heartfelt moments as people come together to the accompaniment of this song. As a hallmark of love in its truest sense, it’s been with us at every moment of the way.
“Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera’s single and self-titled album ‘Genie in Bottle’ picked up pace until it reached the point where it was so popular that it topped charts in no less than 21 countries.
“I Want It That Way” by The Backstreet Boys
The Backstreet Boys delivered a defining pop ballad with ‘I Want It That Way.’ It held the number one spot in over 25 countries around the world, reaching such popularity that it’s even one of the most parodied tracks on the planet as well.
“Tearing Up My Heart” by NSYNC
Among the many hits of the boy-band sensation NSYNC, this has to be one for the die-hard fans. It’s remained with us to this day, conveying the attitude and harmony that has stuck to these famed stars for so long crystal-clear. It’s the type of song that starts to grow on you from the first bar.
“Who Will Save Your Soul” by Jewel
This is a song that Jewel wrote when she was just sixteen-year-old and the very first attempt that she ever made at song-writing. Happenstance and God-given talent made her pop-folk masterpiece rise to number eleven on the Hot 100.
“Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve
One of the biggest songs of the decade has to be this masterpiece composed initially by the Rolling Stones. It took over two decades for The Verve to win a ruling whereby they eventually had to start receiving 100 percent of the royalties from the song that they made famous.
“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins
One of the most erotic videos of the decade ‘Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover’ was so risque that it was banned from MTV before a recut was released.
“The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” by Missy Elliot
With a fishnet lens and the dopest flow dropped in the 90s by a female artist, Missy Elliot showed us all what ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ is all about. From the beat to the lyrics inspired by and chorus from ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ the whole of this video was responsible for Missy’s breakout.
“Candle In The Wind” by Elton John
Written in 1973, in honor of Marilyn Monroe, Elton John inspired the world in tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales. While much of the rest of this timeless song was reworked, the chorus remains the same.
“Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb
Lisa Loeb hit the world and made a lasting impact with the release of this, the soundtrack to the ’94 feature film Reality Bites. Despite reaching high level of global popularity, All-4-One’s ‘I Swear’ just beat them for a Grammy.
“Your Women” by White Town
The British one-man-band White Town hit the charts hard and fast, peaking at first place on the UK Singles Chart. With a music video mimicking black and white silent films, and a melody that just keeps ringing on – it’s no wonder that the gestures used feature hypnosis!
“All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow redefined female pop-rock with her hit ‘All I Wanna Do.’ It took away two Grammy’s – The Award for Record of the Year and the Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
“Don’t Let Go” by En Vogue
Even though this is one of the most instantly recognizable R&B ballads of the 90s, it just managed to miss the majority of the limelight due to Toni Braxton’s legendary track ‘Un-Break My Heart.’
“Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
This power ballad was a song that Toni Braxton originally hated. After being convinced to record, it later became her signature song. The sadness can be felt in every word.
“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
Wilson Phillips is undoubtedly one of the most popular girl groups of all time, with ‘Hold On’ becoming their first number one on not only the Hot 100 but the UK Singles Chart and Top of the Pops as well.
“Right Here” by SWV
The vocal trio Sisters with Voices (SWV) originally formed as a gospel group, reaching a successful run in R&B with hits like this. They even walked away with the recent Soul Train Lady of Soul Award for this catchy track.
“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind
Third Eye Blind created this song with a central focus on speed and the rapid unsuspecting decline into the pull of crystal meth. There were several lines changed and omitted with the chorus originally being ‘I want nothing else to get me through this…’ but most fans are blissfully unaware of the dark inspiration.
“Show Me Love” by Robyn
While this wasn’t the Swedish singer’s first single, it was her most popular release abroad. It even went on to feature as the soundtrack for the television series ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.’
Together Again by Janet Jackson
Janet dedicated this song to all the friends she lost to AIDS over the years. As a deeply personal track, it is accompanied by an equally expressive music video showing scenes of the star reminiscing about a friend lost to the fatal disease.
What Is Love by Haddaway
This hit transcended Haddaway’s conventional European Eurodance appeal, hitting number one in over thirteen countries while climbing bills to as high as number two in the UK. It’s fresh idea, pumping beat and funky style made it a favored dance track, remixed by countless EDM DJs over the years.
“The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy and Monica
Brandy and Monica wowed the world with this upbeat pop duet featuring relatable lyrics inspired by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s collaboration on ‘The Girl Is Mine.’
“I Don’t Want to Wait” by Paula Cole
‘I Don’t Want To Wait’ is the most iconic song released by Paula Cole, clearly reflecting the spirit of family that inspired this track. When ‘Dawson’s Creek’ snapped up this song as its soundtrack it gained six years worth of additional airtime, even though you only hear about forty seconds of her single.
“Kiss From A Rose” by Seal
Despite the global appeal and timeless devotion of fans around the world to this song, no one knows exactly what it is about, and Seal has never offered any explanation other than sharing that a relationship inspired the lyrics.
“Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)” by Pras Featuring Ol’Dirty Bastard and Mya
Fugees rapper Pras went Platinum with this song based on the 1983 track ‘Islands In The Stream’ by Dolly Parton &Kenny Rogers. It was originally going to be a duet between Pras and Mýa, but when Ol’ Dirty Bastard overheard the recording, he asked to be included.
“You Make Me Wanna” by Usher
Despite its controversial subject matter concerning a man turning to another woman, ‘You Make Me Wanna’ was one of Usher’s biggest hits, spending twenty-nine weeks on the charts.
“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Conner
It should come as no surprise that the emotion conveyed by Sinéad was felt so strongly. Not many realize that her tears in the video are real. It’s no wonder that ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ topped charts in seventeen countries, holding its number one place in the US for four weeks.
“You Gotta Be” by Des’ree
Des’ree delivered one of the catchiest songs of the 90s, rewarding fans with music that self-affirmed confidence and inspired inner strength with its cheeriness and relatable lyrics. She was driven to write this song during a period of recovery following a painful separation.
“Frozen” by Madonna
Madonna created a masterpiece featuring a cinematic video and soothing beat that sent it soaring to number two, her sixth single to do so in history. Her esoteric portrayal filled with gestures and dark contrast portrays melancholia in exact mimicry to the deep meaning &lyrics.
“Song 2” by Blur
This iconic FIFA soundtrack and global success story carries an actual title of 2:02 – Song 2 was working title that soon stuck with fans. Blur originally wasn’t going to include this track on their album but we’re all glad that their US record company convinced them.
“Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin
This story song became a smash hit, singing of Sunny who burns down her house while running away from her past. It won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
“Crush” by Jennifer Paige
With the release of ‘Crush’, a new teen pop superstar was born. Blending dimensions of perfect vocals with the flow and grove of the world’s best R&B, Jennifer’s track rose to become a top-twenty hit in over thirteen countries.
“Believe” by Cher
Cher set all-new standards in pop and dance music with her use of Auto-Tune to create what has become known as the ‘Cher effect’ itself. It placed her in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest female solo artist to take the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. It cemented her position as a forerunning pop culture icon, clearly marking her entry into upbeat pop music.
“Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears
Britney was just sixteen years old when she experienced her breakthrough moment in music history, releasing this impressive track. At the time, she was an artist who called all the shots, picking out the experience of her music and image. Decisions that resulted in a song that topped charts in every country of the world.