The best songs of the 1990s

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Choosing among all the genres that have represented an era, from rock’s last popularity peak to electronic music rediscovering itself, from hip hop becoming finally adult to music charts celebrating some of the most beloved names ever. 1990s were a monstrous decade, and ranking the best songs of the decade is an impossible mission. That’s why we did it. The excluded songs obviously are endless, but the mechanism o charts is ruthless and selection is a duty. 1990s in twenty-five songs, among examples where we all agree and other unexpected names, top ten hits and intellectual works. A decade that had everything you want, in a few streamings.

25. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun

That video with the distorted faces of everyday people, the apocalypse coming from the sky and Chris Cornell’s voice, preaching from the mountain. When MTV was scary.

24. Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name

The exciting side of Metal, appreciated both by fans and neophytes. Killing In The Name remains one of the most identifiable pieces of the whole genre. The riff that you do not forget.

23. Beck – Loser

The real crossover’s anthem, and in the same time the unforgettable hit from a key artist of ’90s, so much quoted by teenagers. Caustic.

22. Portishead – Glory Box

The list of listeners in love with trip hop is very long and continues today. Portishead were the genre’s aristocrats and Glory Box is their must. Esoteric.

21. The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up

One of the most adored (and studied) songs from the album that most represented 1990s’ pumped up electronic music. A video that would never pass censorship, but who cares. Ruthless.

20. Beastie Boys – Sabotage

When hip hop marked the cultural imaginary, through a historical group that still ruled. A video that would have won the jackpot in every awards ceremony, if it wasn’t for Everybody Hurts. Mistreated.

19. Aphex Twin – Come to Daddy

Aphex Twin - Come To Daddy (Director's Cut)

The genius that revolutionised intellectual electronic music, in the most intriguing musical wave of the ’90. Windowlicker and Come to Daddy are the double masterpiece of an artist who was even able to mock everybody, unpunished. Brat.

18. U2 – One

Probably the most quoted band when we talk about 90s, probably because they helped to define 90s aesthetics. Seducers.

17. Pearl Jam – Black

The powerful grunge of Pearl Jam, one of the groups that made everybody fall in love in that decade. A genre elevated to legend, celebrated still today. Glorious.

16. Daft Punk – Da Funk

The inventors of French house? Maybe, maybe not. Surely Daft Punk are one of the biggest myths of the current generation. And of the previous one too. And their first album is a milestone. Scientists.

15. Smashing Pumpkins – 1979

The alternative rock that remained in the heart of those who crossed the 90s. And one of the most unusual voices ever. Vibrant.

14. Coolio – Gangsta’s Paradise

One of hip hop’s absolute masterpieces, and consequently one of the most loved songs even by those who do not consider themselves fans of the genre. Coolio has brought down every boundary, temporal and conceptual. Undisputed.

13. Oasis – Wonderwall

Oasis - Wonderwall (Official Video)

Britpop, another of the waves that shattered the hearts of the young and mature listeners of that time, sung by one of its most representative artists. Legendary.

12. White Town – Your Woman

When it was the video (and MTV) what decrees the success of a song. And when a song impossible to frame represents the maximum result that an artist could aspire to. Reckless.

11. Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should’ve Come Over

Jeff Buckley - Lover, You Should've Come Over (Audio)

The last of the timeless artists in one of the very few opportunities that the world had to love him. When experience determines quality. How many regrets.

10. Blur – Song 2


The other lords of Britpop, with a song that hit also who didn’t know anything about genres and trends. Immediate and not improvable. Unique.

9. Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman

When dance made history, the perfect balance and the ability to stay in your head right after the first listen. Hypnotic.

8. Nine Inch Nails – Hurt

The most controversial, the least expected of the legends that marked the ’90s, from an album never praised enough. Probably because it is the least compatible song among the ones ranked here. Evil.

7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge

What is the most proper age when to love Red Hot Chili Peppers is hard to tell, because the perfect balance of Under the Bridge is indisputable at any level. In a state of grace.

6. Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy

Massive Attack were the most stylish and kaleidoscopic side of trip hop, often defining the elusive nature of the genre. This is where it all starts. The warmth that hugs you.

5. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

Tastes don’t matter. Genres don’t matter. Age of the listener, tendency to like chart hits, even how much you can love or hate Nirvana: none of these things matter. Smells Like Teen Spirit is anyway immortal. Absurd.

4. The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Those violins that have conquered everybody, a group from which no one expected such an historical hit and a lyrics that is still fun to interpret today. Impossible.

3. Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence

The myth that becomes legend. The group which had defined the games already in the 80s succeeds to officially mark the beginning of the ’90s. And a video that is simple wonder.

2. Radiohead – Karma Police

The rock that rises to a new dimension in the hands of one of its most philosophical and thick exponents. Karma Police has been for many the beginning of love for music. Despite of its disarming linearity. Incredible.

1. R.E.M. – Losing My Religion

Because the ’90s have swept the rules. And the most loved song can also be the one where not everybody agrees, when the real debate starts. As every rank should do. R.E.M. were the phenomenon with the most particular characteristics, where charts decided the victory while critics enjoyed other preferences. Unexplained.


This ranking is the result of the contribution of the whole Auralcrave team

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