Ah, the 90s. For me, it’ll always be the best decade ever. But does the music still hold up?
From one-hit wonders to enduring power ballads, these are the best–and worst–hits of the 90s. How many are you still listening to today?
#10: “Candle In The Wind” by Elton John
The reason this song–a re-recording of a 1973 track originally written about Marilyn Monroe–was so popular in 1997 is heartbreaking.
Elton John performed it at Princess Diana’s funeral. He and lyricist Bernie Taupin rewrote the lyrics for her to honor John’s long-time friendship with the princess. It became the most-purchased single in UK history, but John has refused to perform it live ever again.
#9: “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden
Verdict: Just the Worst
Okay, so I hate this song. When you compare it to the R&B tracks on this list, it becomes painfully obvious that the musicality of Savage Garden is… lacking.
“Truly Madly Deeply” was incredibly popular at weddings and in the soundtracks of 90s teen dramas. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
#8: “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
Mimi has always been a queen, and when she’s surrounded by the kings that are Boyz II Men, it results in a chart-topping ballad.
You can’t help but feel moved by the sheer vocal talent on display in this stripped-down “Making Of” music video. This was before Auto-Tune, people! Don’t worry, Boyz II Men will be back…
#7: “Too Close” by Next
Verdict: Worst (Sorry!)
This song wasn’t on my personal playlist; in fact, I didn’t remember it at all until I fired up the music video. For me, this tune lacks the nostalgia factor to make up for how boring it is.
Hilariously, the top YouTube comments are like, “I had no idea that the lyrics were so dirty when I was a kid.”
#6: “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men
See, I told you Boyz II Men would be back!
The video showcases some painfully amateurish acting, but once the music starts, you’ll forget about it. For my money, Boyz II Men is the best boyband of all time.
#5: “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams’ mega-hit song “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” is the kind of cheesy, heartfelt power ballad that they just don’t make anymore.
So earnest. Adams recorded it for the soundtrack of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and it went on to become the biggest hit of his career. And yes, I still sing along to this one in the car sometimes.
#4: “You Were Meant for Me” by Jewel
Did you know that Alaskan-born Jewel started out in a yodeling double-act with her dad? She never quite reached the heights of her debut album, Piece of You. This song was everywhere for the rest of the decade.
To be honest, I still listen to this one. I was more of a Fiona Apple fan in 90s, but “You Were Meant for Me” holds up!
#3: “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
The 90s were the golden age of R&B, and it didn’t get much better than the smooth, soulful “Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton.
Bonus points for the shirtless tai chi and Twister (??) in the official music video, featuring model Tyson Beckford.
#2: “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix) by Los Del Rio
It might seem like an urban legend to folks who were born in the new millennium, but we were legit obsessed with the Macarena in the 90s. The video is basically a live-action dELIA*s catalog:
The remix of Los Del Rio’s one and only hit was played at every single middle school dance, prom, disco, wedding… probably even some funerals.
#1: “How Do I Live?” by Leann Rimes
Before she was tabloid fodder best known for her feud with husband Eddie Ciriban’s ex-wife, Leann Rimes was one of the most popular musicians in the world. In fact, her single “How Do I Live?” was THE biggest hit of the decade!
Pop country was having a major moment in the 90s. This ballad is cheesy as heck, but you can’t deny the power of Rimes’ voice.