Decade By Decade Music: 90s

Moving on to week 6 in my series of decade by decade music, 90s was the era in which I grew up. Gameboys, super soakers, beanie babies, tamagotchi, trolls and more ruled my life. Heck, as a kid I had a pink Barbie corvette which my cousin painted black and pinstriped red to match my father's showcar. (He now paints cars for a living. Go figure!) Anyway, the toys aren't really what most remind me of 90s music … Rollerskating does. We had skate nights once a month with my elementary school where everyone would show up and skate. I may have been too busy playing with toys at home to listen to music, but, there, on skate night, I was exposed to more 90s pop music than you (or I) can even imagine. So as I look back, nostalgically, this list will be traced with the songs I heard then as I skated with family, friends, and siblings as well as new songs I didn't hear until years later…

To have a look back at the other posts I've written in this series, click on the links below:

40s • 50s • 60s • 70s • 80s

1. Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson – "Beauty and the Beast" (buy)

My favorite Disney movie as a kid, I identified with the brown-haired, brown-eyed, book-loving "freak" that was Belle. Celine Dion's beautiful voice was only a perk of this soundtrack, which I listened to over and over again. (Feel bad for my parents yet?)

Anyway, "Beauty and the Beast" was originally written by the fabulous and well-known Disney lyricist Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Angela Lansbury (the teapot) first recorded the song followed up by pop artists Peabo Bryson and, new to the music world, Celine Dion. This film marked the first time in Disney's history that they recorded and used two versions of the same song in one movie. "Beauty and the Beast" also marked the beginning of Celine Dion's career taking Dion from a relatively unknown Canadian star to a household name. The song won a golden globe an academy award, and a juno award and reached number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

2. Sarah McLachlan – "Possession" (buy)

Written in 1993 as the first single on her album Fumbling Toward Ecstasy, the song is based on two crazed fans McLachlan encountered early in her career. She recorded two versions of the song with the second solo piano version being included as a hidden track on the 1993 album. "Possession" was nominated for a grammy, but it did not receive one.

3. Michael Jackson – "Will You Be There" (buy)

In the late 80s and early 90s Michael Jackson was a strong advocate for human and animal rights through his music, as seen in his support for the movie Free Willy and creation of this song. According to the late Jackson, he wrote this song on his Neverland Ranch sitting in his Giving Tree. "Will You Be There" incorporates "a prelude featuring the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus performing a portion of Beethoven's ninth symphony" followed by "a choral interlude arranged by Andrae and Sandra Crouch" (Wikipedia). Sources (as suggested in the Wikipedia article) suggest that Jackson failed to credit the Cleveland Orchestra for their addition in the song and thus they sued (and won) for 7 million dollars which was settled out of court. "Will You Be There" won "best movie song for 1994" and topped the Billboard Hot 100 at number 7.

4. Eric Clapton – "Tears In Heaven" (buy)

Following the death of his 4 year old son, Clapton wrote this song for the movie Rush, which dealt with drug addiction. While he doesn't perform the song any longer (claiming the depth of feeling he once had for the subject has dissipated), when it was initially released it received multiple awards and nominations and stayed at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. The song also did well internationally hitting the top spots on charts in countries like Brazil, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, and Taiwan. 

5. Better Than Ezra – "Desperately Wanting" (buy)

Released in 1996, "Desperately Wanting" by rock group Better Than Ezra may or may not be about fraternity hazing, a gay kid who killed himself, or a love story about how some guy is obsessed with a girl on drugs. Google has provided very little information for me and neither have the singers. Either way, it's a great song that had to included in my list!

6. Vanessa Williams – "Save the Best for Last" (buy)

Shortly after a scandal with the Miss America pageant, Vanessa Williams as she worked toward the development of a successful recording career. The song was written in 1989 by Phil Galdston, Wendy Waldman and Jon Lind as a love story wherein a young man watches the woman he loves date multiple men before initiating a relationship with her. Since the song's recording, it has bee considered Vanessa Williams' signature song topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 5 weeks.  

7. Whitney Houston ft. Mariah Carey – "When You Believe" (buy)

A song from the 1998 film "The Prince of Egypt", the song is inspirational ballad suggesting that miracles can happen when you call on God. The song peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received an Academy Award for Best Original Song. 

8. Aerosmith – "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" (buy)

Debuting at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where it stayed for 4 weeks, "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" was written by Diane Warren and produced for the 1998 movie Armageddon. The song was the first #1 hit for the band in 28 years and opened up Aerosmith to a whole new generation! It reached platinum certification in the US and 6 other countries.

9. The Verve – "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (buy)

Sung by an English alternative band, "Bitter Sweet Symphony" is "based on an Andrew Loog Oldham orchestral version of The Rolling Stones' song, 'The Last Time'" from which it received "some legal controversy surrounding a plagiarism charge" (Wikipedia). The song was released in the UK in June 1997 "reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart and staying there for three months" before it was released in the US in March 1998. The song reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Bitter Sweet Symphony" has since been nominated for many awards and been on numerous lists (like Rolling Stones "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" and ME Magazine's "50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever").

10. K-Ci & Jojo – "All My Life" (buy)

The song of middle school dances for me, I only decided to include this song after a reminder that this was Hae Min Lee's song in high school (see Serial podcast). The song debuted at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 climbing to the number 1 spot the following week and stayed on the charts for 35 weeks! Joel (Jo-Jo) initially wrote the song using his daughter as inspiration with the intention of giving it to another artist to record; inevitably, he decided to keep it and record it himself. 

What are your thoughts on my list? I feel like I'm missing some great songs; can you help me remember what they are?

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