Instead of throwing up five or six bands that are on the up and up, let’s take a look back at some of the songs that helped to define the year that was 1990. After a quick glance over the top 100 songs (according to Billboard), there are a few things that jump out at me.
- Bell Biv Devoe actually had two songs in the top 12. I realize that most wouldn’t consider the top 12 of anything to be a great accomplishment, but the fact that this group not only had 1 song, but 2 is one big feat (read that one more time, BELL BIV DEVOE HAD 2 TOP 12 HITS)
- Four of the top five acts are all female-fronted acts. Wilson Phillips, Roxette (no one ever remembers the guy), Sinead O’Connor and Madonna have the honours.
- Vanilla Ice, Milli Vanilli and M.C. Hammer are 45th, 46th and 47th on the list (I find it odd that three of the biggest musical jokes of the 90s are back to back to back).
- New Kids on The Block, Wilson Phillips, Roxette, Bell Biv Devoe, Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, Phil Collins, Technotronic, Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne, Billy Joel, Milli Vanilli, M.C. Hammer, and Aerosmith all had at least two songs in the top 100 that year.
With those funky little points out of the way, let’s take a look at five songs from 1990 that not only helped to define the year but can also be heard blasting out of speakers to this very day.
1 – Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice (Number 45)
In all seriousness it’s a shame that this is how most people remember the music scene of the early 90s. A terrible haircut, those horrible baggy clothes and the worst attempt at being the baddest ass in town is what I most remember about this song (and what’s up with those lyrics…..All right stop, collaborate and listen, Ice is back with my brand new invention, something grabs ahold of me tightly, flow like a harpoon daily and nightly). Is it good? No. Do I sing along when it comes across my stereo? Every single time. The conflict is real.
2 – Tom Petty – Free Fallin’ (Number 64)
With those unmistakable opening chords and great first line (she’s a good girl, loves her mama, loves Jesus and America too, she’s a good girl, is crazy about Elvis, loves horses and her boyfriend too) Tom Petty released, arguably, the most popular song of his career. Take a jaunt around most campfires and you’re sure to find someone with a guitar playing this jam.
3 – B 52’s – Love Shack (Number 78)
Aside from this song (and “Rock Lobster”) most people would be hard pressed to name another song from this new wave Georgian band. With a massive cult following to this very day, the B 52’s most recognizable song to ever come from their collection might also be one of the greatest party songs from the decade. With a style straight out of the 60s and an aptitude for the theatrics, this song is still able to tear the roof off of venues from East to West.
4 – Jon Bon Jovi – Blaze Of Glory (Number 10)
Jon Bon Jovi may have started out as a rocker but there was always a hidden scent of country in his music. Doing their best follow up to the ’87 hit “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, Bon Jovi and co find themselves on the list with their only single of the year. For Bon Jovi this might be unacceptable, however most artists would give limbs to have an everlasting hit such as this.
5 – Aerosmith – Janie’s Got A Gun (Number 61)
Turn on any AM/FM classic rock station and you’re sure to hear this song at some point within the rotation. Not known for their ability to write songs that tackled sensitive subjects, Aerosmith broke the mold with “Janie’s Got A Gun” and found themselves on stage, accepting their very first Grammy.