Music was an important aspect of my life growing up, so I decided to make a definitive list of iconic songs/artists that helped define specific time periods of my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This is the first of a 3 part series of posts. Each time period will contain 10 highlights, in no particular order, that I felt best fit my experience. So sit back, relax, and relive your youth.
This post goes out to the middle 80's babies (84-86).
Elementary/Middle/Junior High School
1. Dance/Booty Music
Dance music hit its peak in the earlier 90's. Jock Jams was everywhere, Marky Mark was girating around in his underwear,and C+C music Factory was trying to make everyone sweat. The US charts were overflowing with dance hits from all over the globe. Some songs spawned their own dances and choreography (ie: Macarena, The Train). From parties to sporting events, people could not escape the feel good tracks that encouraged people to get up and move. Even now when these songs come on, you can't help but move with the beat and even after all these years, you still know the lyrics. Considered a one hit wonder, Tag Team blessed us with their hit single "Whoomp!(There it is)" in 1993. Ace of Bass made it big stateside in 1993 with their album "The Sign". They continued to enjoy moderate success well into the 2000's.
1993: Tag Team - Whoomp There it is
1993: Ace of Bass - The Sign
Honorable Mentions: 69 Boyz - Tootsie Roll / Real McCoy - Another Night / La Bouche - Be my Lover
2. West Coast-East Coast Rap
Rap really hit its stride in the 90's and became a mainstream phenomenon. NWA was taking over the radio with their anti-authority songs and sharp lyrics. Wu-Tang Clan were making a name for themselves with their revolutionary beats. However, Nothing was more divisive than the East Coast Vs. West Coast rivalry. Artists from both coasts would continually take shots at each other through their lyrics. Tempers flared at the 1995 Source Awards where Suge Knight criticized Puff Daddy publicly. This era in music produced some iconic rap anthems, but turned dark with the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.. Considered to be 2 of the best rap artists of all time, Tupac and Biggie continued their success with posthumous hits including "Hypnotize", "Mo Money, Mo Problems", and "Hail Mary".
1995: Dr. Dre and Tupac - California Love
1995: Notorious BIG - Big Poppa
Honorable Mentions: Snoop Dogg - Gin & Juice / Junior Mafia - Get Money / Warren G - Regulate
3. Girl Groups
Before the Spice Girls and whatever the flavor of the month girl group is nowadays, there was the girl groups of the early 90's. Every album had hit after hit. The wrote love songs, break-up songs, and tackled tough subject matter such as "Waterfalls" by TLC. They wrote music that women could relate to and were in constant rotation on the radio. In a time when the radio was dominated by males, these groups claimed their spot at the top of the charts. TLC and Salt-N-Pepa were on top of their game. They were unapologetic, carefree, and confident.
1994: TLC - Creep
1993: Salt-N-Pepa - Shoop
Honorable Mentions: En Vogue - My Lovin / SWV - Weak / Jade - Don't Walk Away
4. Cheesy Sexual RnB
Plenty of the subject matter in songs went over my head when I was little, but none were more in your face than these overtly sexual jams of the early 90's. I had no business singing along to these lyrics a neither did any other 9 year old. Back before kids were sheltered from anything and everything, these songs were a staple in kid's mix tapes. Radio Disney was born from this era. Songs on the radio now aren't as straight to the point as they used to be.
1991: Color Me Badd - I Wanna Sex you up
1994: R. Kelly - Bump N Grind
Honorable Mentions: Silk - Freak Me / H-Town - Knockin the Boots / Jodeci - Freek'N You
5. Boys II Men
One of the most iconic RnB groups of the 90's...and of all time. Their music is synonymous with my childhood. This was the one cassette tape that you bought and never pressed fast forward. They really shined with their a cappella harmonies and old school feel to their music. 1991's Cooleyhighharmony and 1994's II had several #1's like "End of the Road" and "On Bended Knee", but it was there single "I'll make love to you" that spent an impressive 14 weeks at #1.
1994: Boys II Men - I'll Make love to you"
The explosion of boybands in the late 90's was fueled by rabid teenage girls & boys obsessed with MTV's TRL. The internet, though still very young, made it quite easy for teens to learn about new popstars and provided a place for their fandoms to grow. Many of these bands had thousands of Geocities fan websites which will continue to embarrass their makers for years
to come. A lot of groups tried, but none could match the success and hysteria created by none other than 'N Sync and The Backstreet Boys. Breaking records and hearts for a good part of the late 90's and early 00's, 'N Sync and BSB were a phenomenon that no one saw coming. Sold out concerts and pay per view specials were the norm for these young men. 'N Sync took a
permanent break in 2002, which spawned the solo career of Justin Timberlake. BSB was dormant for a few years in the 2000's, but have again began touring and working on new music, much to the delight of the fans.
1998: Nsync - Tearin' up my Heart
1999: Backstreet Boys - I want it that way
Honorable Mentions: 98 Degrees - The Hardest Thing / 5ive - It's the things you do / Hanson - MMMBop
I remember watching HMBOMT premiere on TRL and afterward thinking "She's gonna be huge". Her career took off like rocket and although it has slowed down a bit, Britney Spears is still considered to be one of the most iconic pop stars of all time. Not only did she change the pop game with her string of hits, she also became a huge pop culture figure. She dropped at just the right time in the industry and was a force to be reckoned with. She was equal parts innocent and sexy, which made many parents uncomfortable with her image. Despite the controversy, Britney continued to be successful well into the 2000's.
1998: Britney Spears - Hit me Baby one more time
Latin/Hispanic pop stars really made waves in the 90's with their infectious dance beats and Spanish infused lyrics. Perhaps the most notable was Selena. She made a name for herself as the lead singer of her family's band, then continued under several solo efforts. Selena was already a huge Tejano star in Texas and her single "Como La Flor" peaked at #6 on the US Billboard Latin Charts. Unfortunately, she was murdered on March 31st, 1995 by the manager of her fan club. Her final album "Dreaming of You" was released in July of the same year to critical success and became the fastest selling U.S. album of the year.
1995: Selena - Dreaming of You
Honorable Mentions: Ricky Martin - Livin La Vida Loca / Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos / Gloria Estefan - Turn the Beat Around
9. Movie Soundtrack Smashes
The late 90's saw a surge of #1 hits that were equally if not more popular than the movies they were featured in. Radio stations played them to death, often splicing in audio from the films into the songs. No matter how terrible the film, the soundtracks were sure to be on repeat. Celine Dion had already lent her musical talents to the "Up Close and Personal"
soundtrack with the tune "Because you loved me", but She had a Titanic of a hit on her hands with My Heart Will Go On". She spent 2 weeks at the #1 spot on the Billboard charts, but she remains #1 in the hearts of Karaoke singers everywhere.
1997: Celine Dion - My Heart will go on
Honorable Mentions: Aerosmith - Don't Wanna Miss a Thing(Armageddon)/ Goo Goo Dolls - Iris(City of Angels) / R. Kelly - I believe I can Fly (Space Jam)
10. Actors with music careers
Whether they were musicians before, or were just now dipping their toes into the singing game, the late 90's was great time for actors to try their hand at singing. None were more successful than Will Smith. He was a movie star following his turn as Captain Steven Hiller in "Independence Day" and Jay in "Men in Black". He already had hits with "Summertime" and the amazing theme song to his show "Fresh Prince of Bel Air", but it wasn't until "Gettin' Jiggy Wit it" dropped in 1998, that he became a global superstar.
1998: Will Smith - Gettin' Jiggy Wit it
Honorable Mentions: Jennifer Lopez - If you had my Love / Brandy & Monica - The Boy is Mine / Natalie Imbruglia - Torn
Video Sources: 123456789101112131415
Info Sources: my memory & 12
Image Sources: 12
What are some of your musical memories, ONTD? Part 2 is posted HERE Part 3 is posted HERE