100 best songs of the 90s

For some reason, the 90s have come back to haunt us. Yes, the likes of PEACE and Tribes have made a good job of putting baggy rock and Britpop through the grinder and pulling out something considerably fresher, but make no mistake, we’re living in a very dangerous time.

Take That

There are numerous brilliant aspects of the 90s music scene, but all it takes is one hipster remixing B*Witched at his vegan cupcake workshop and we’ll be fucked before you can say “Fat Willy’s Surf Shack”. With that in mind, here are five timely reminders of why we should leave the 90s to rot in peace.

5Dull singer-songwriters

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If you take The Allman Brothers, Wilson Pickett and Stevie Nicks and manage to ignore everything that’s instinctive, original and emotive, then you’re getting close to the Sheryl Crow sound. Shania Twain, for her part, milked the colossal US cash cow that is country-pop crossover and struggled to mime along to her own songs. Finally, Bryan Adams spent the entire decade at number one because we all mistook him for Kevin Costner. It was the musical equivalent of a long line at the Post Office.

4Boring guitar bands

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Travis’ success, and still the most exciting thing to happen to the band, came when they played ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ at Glastonbury 1999 and it subsequently started to drizzle. ‘WHAT!?’ I hear you cry. ‘RAIN? AT GLASTONBURY!?’ Yeah, it happened. Meanwhile, Grant Nicholas gave us the following immortal lines in his 1997 rawker, ‘Tangerine’: “Tangerine/ Turning green / Cellophane/ Window Pane/ Socialize/ Paralysed/ Plastic faces suck me dry”. I suppose, socially speaking, times were been pretty hard back then what with all that upward mobility and economic optimism.

3Over-singing

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The word you’re looking for is ‘melisma’. It’s the polite term for when vocalists shift between multiple notes on one syllable. Whitney Houston did it too often, Mariah Carey took it to 11 and Celine Dion is included here because every time she opens her mouth, music is hit around the back of a the head with a shovel. Unfortunately, the term comes nowhere near to summing up the cringe-inducing naffness of the technique it describes. A better word for it would be ‘flapdoodle’. Look it up.

2Ace Of Base

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To children of the early 90s, Ace Of Base were the sound of long car journeys, repetitive school days and enforced shopping trips. Even worse, ‘All That She Wants’, sounded like a creepy ode to a baby-hoarding Child Catcher-type in search of her next target (“Beware of what’s flashing in her eyes/ She’s gonna get ya!”). Debut ‘Happy Nation’ (‘The Sign’ in the US) sold 21 million copies worldwide and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. A good decade would not have allowed that to happen.

1Endless pop dreck

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18 years down the line, we can look back and realise that the Spice Girls and their boyfriends, Take That, were not all bad. Or at least, they were not all bad when compared them to the languid stream of toddler snot that followed them: Boyzone, Westlife, 5ive, B*Witched, S Club 7, Steps, 911, Another Level, A1… 90s pop really got out of hand fast, quickly degenerating into something that, unsurprisingly, resembled Louis Walsh’s vision for a master race of jazz-handed holiday reps. Except for East 17 that is. East 17 were badass.

Disagree? Here’s Dan Martin on why the 90s was the best decade for music ever

100 best songs of the 90s