You can’t help but “hold on” to the ’90s and proclaim “I will always love you” to the decade’s music trends. In fact, you don’t even “believe in life after love”-ing the ’90s! If you didn’t catch any of those lyric references, you definitely need to brush up on your ’90s hits knowledge. Each genre of music progressed in the ’90s, turning out hit songs in pop, rap, R&B, and rock. These were the #1 songs each year through the 1990s according to the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles.

We can’t help but think about old generations as we work on awesome new additions to The Armstrong.


1990: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips

Wilson Phillips is a female vocal group rising out of California. Their self-titled debut album Wilson Phillips contained the track “Hold On” along with other top-100-ranked tracks. Music must run in the family because the women are the daughters of Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas. The band reunited in 2004, and the song “Hold On” was recently revived by the group’s appearance and performance in the 2011 rom-com Bridesmaids.


Wilson Phillips Reuniting

Wilson Phillips reunites to perform in 2014, photo by State Farm via Flickr.


1991: “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams is a Canadian singer-songwriter who made his debut on the Billboard Year-End Top 100 with “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.” This emotional ballad follows the ’90s trend of composing with prominent piano and guitar instrumentals. Adams’ raspy voice paired perfectly as vocals. The song went on to be one of the best-selling singles of all time, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide.


1992: “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men was one of the most loved bands of the ’90s. The R&B group won the hearts of America with their impressive harmonies and emotional ballads. “End of the Road” is a ’90s love song about someone whose relationship had ended but who just couldn’t let go. It spent a record-breaking 13 weeks at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.


1993: “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Consider the ’90s the age of love because music listeners couldn’t get enough of emotional love ballads. Whitney Houston’s most well-known song is “I Will Always Love You.” The original version of the song was written and recorded by country singer Dolly Parton. Both Parton and Houston landed number one spots for their performances. Houston holds the record for best-selling single by a woman in music history for her version.


1994: “The Sign” by Ace of Base

“The Sign” is a pop anthem by Swedish band Ace of Base. The upbeat song has made many movie and TV appearances in shows like American Dad, Full House, and South Park. The song is about coming to a realization, and in the music video, a woman decides to leave a man who tried to win her back after leaving her. The song spent six non-consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard chart.


1995: “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio featuring L.V.

“Gangsta’s Paradise” is a hardcore rap song by rapper Coolio featuring L.V. Coolio won a Grammy for best rap solo performance and two best rap video awards from MTV for the song. The song discusses the damaged social systems and negative activities of the “gangsta’s paradise” he feels trapped in. This narrative of his personal journey became one of the best-selling singles of all time.


1996: “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” by Los del Rio

The Spanish pop duo Los del Rio had everyone dancing with their hit “Macarena” in the summer of 1996. The song became a worldwide dance phenomenon and is still played at nearly every school dance, party, and wedding today! The song was originally produced in Spanish and went through several versions before the Bayside Boys Mix in English.


1997: “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” by Elton John

Another ’90s love song that made it to the top of the charts is “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” by Elton John. The song was dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana, who died in a car crash that year, with proceeds going to her charities. The song is considered the biggest-selling single since the 1950s by the Guinness World Records.


Elton John playing the piano and singing in a mic

Elton John 2009 by Ernst Vikne via Wikimedia Commons


1998: “Too Close” by Next

R&B was a popular genre in the ’90s, landing number one spots with songs like “Too Close” by Next. The sexually charged song was about dancing and grinding with a partner in the club. The innuendos in the song were overlooked at the time, and the song was broadcast widely over the radio. The hit went platinum and reached number one on the U.S. Hot 100 and R&B charts.


1999: “Believe” by Cher

The 90s came to a close with the catchy dance song “Believe” by Cher. It was one of the first songs to feature auto-tune, giving her voice a synthetic sound. It reached number one in multiple countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries. The song solidified Cher as a pop-culture icon.


Black and white photo of Cher

Cher by Casablanca Records (Original photo from Light Show) via Wikimedia Commons


These songs would make the perfect playlist for a ’90s-themed party. They’ll take you back to an unforgettable decade of music.

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