Wednesday 13 October 2021

Generic list post: 101 best non-Rap singles of the 1990s imho

Hi, I'm Generic British Generation X Guy. You may remember me from such posts as Dear diary, my teen-angst bullshit had Ice-T's Body Count, Christian Slater was a better Jack Nicholson than Jack Nicholson, and Earth is roughly 4 billion years old but I'm glad I was alive at the point in time when SL2's On A Ragga Tip sat attop the U.K Top 40.

Always wanted to compile a best non-Rap singles of the 1990s list but was daunted at how time-consuming and mind-bending it'd end up being. I was right: it was a right royal pain in the posterior to whittle the 1990s down to 101 singles since it's an incredible decade which also happens to be plagued by the absolute worst type of nostalgia - whether it's Rap, Rock, R&B or Rave there's a very specific type of ageing bloke who remains forever frozen in 1996 and who is constantly doing his damndest to ruin 90s classics for me. Anyhoo, after a lotta lotta deliberation this is my definitive 101 favourite 1990s Other Genres™ singles, which is set in stone and never to be changed (... until I remember summat obvious I've forgotten, natch.)

Depeche Mode - Enjoy The Silence (1990)
The Family Stand - Ghetto Heaven (Soul II Soul remix) (1990)
Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (1990)
Happy Mondays - Kinky Afro (1990)
Bell Biv DeVoe - Poison (1990)
Slayer - Seasons Of The Abyss (1990)
Shabba Ranks - Dem Bow (1990)
Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing (1990)
808 State - Cubik (1990)
Madonna - Justify My Love (1990)
Suicidal Tendencies - Send Me Your Money (1990)
EMF - Unbelievable (1990)
Lisa Stansfield - All Around The World (1990)
Alice In Chains - Man In The Box (1990)
INXS - Suicide Blonde (1990)
LFO - We Are Back (1991)
Nirvana - Lithium (1991)
SL2 - Way In My Brain (1991)
Massive Attack ft. Shara Nelson - Unfinished Sympathy (1991)
Prince & The New Power Generation - Gett Off (1991)
Seaweed - One Out Of Four (1991)
Second Phase - Mentasm (1991)
Aretha Daye ft. MC Chan - No More (Making Love) (1991)
Genesis - I Can't Dance (1991)
Liquid - Sweet Harmony (1991)
Soundgarden - Rusty Cage (1991)
Altern-8 - Activ-8 (Come With Me) (1991)
Talk Talk - Ascension Day (1991)
Sounds Of Blackness - Optimistic (1991)
The House Crew - Keep The Fire Burning (1991)
Teenage Fanclub - What You Do To Me (1991)
Young Disciples - Apparently Nothing (1991)
Paperclip People - Oscillator (Electronic Flirtation Device) (1991)
Brand New Heavies ft. N'Dea Davenport - Never Stop (1991)
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Give It Away (1991)
Shades Of Rhythm - The Sound Of Eden (1991)
Danzig - Dirty Black Summer (1992)
Sade - Cherish The Day (1992)
A Guy Called Gerald - 28 Gun Bad Boy (1992)
Mary J. Blige - Real Love (1992)
Cajmere - Let Me Be (1992)
The Prodigy - Out Of Space (1992)
Bobby Brown - Two Can Play That Game (K Klassic mix) (1992)
L7 - Monster (1992)
Chaka Demus & Pliers - Murder She Wrote (1992)
Underground Resistance - Jupiter Jazz (1992)
Faith No More - Easy (1993)
Foul Play - Finest Illusion (1993)
The Breeders - Cannonball (1993)
Big Drill Car - Surrender (1993)
Hardrive - Deep Inside (1993)
Jodeci - Feenin' (1993)
Girls Against Boys - Bulletproof Cupid (1993)
Vicious ft. Doug E. Fresh - Freaks (1993)
Portishead - Sour Times (1994)
Weezer - Buddy Holly (1994)
UK Apachi ft. Shy FX - Original Nuttah (1994)
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Bellbottoms (1994)
TLC - Waterfalls (1994)
Green Day - Basket Case (1994)
Jamiroquai - Space Cowboy (1994)
East 17 - Stay Another Day (1994)
Mariah Carey ft. ODB - Fantasy (Remix) (1995)
Kyuss - One Inch Man (1995)
Total ft. Notorious B.I.G - Can't You See (1995)
Shaggy - Boombastic (1995)
Everything But The Girl - Missing (Todd Terry remix) (1995)
Ghost Town DJ's - My Boo (1996)
Ginuwine - Pony (1996)
The Cardigans - Lovefool (1996)
Blackstreet ft. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen - No Diggity (1996)
Norma Jean Bell - I'm The Baddest Bitch (Moodymann remix) (1996)
Tricky - Christiansands (1996)
Tori Amos - Professional Widow (Armand Van Helden remix) (1996)
Mark Morrison - Return Of The Mack (1996)
Aux 88 - Electrotechno (1996)
D'Angelo ft. Redman - Me & Those Dreamin' Eyes Of Mine (Def Squad mix) (1996)
Lynden David Hall - Sexy Cinderella (1997)
Lathun - Freak It (1997)
Laurent Garnier - Crispy Bacon (1997)
Handsome - Needles (1997)
Dem 2 - Destiny (Sleepless) (1997)
Natalie Imbruglia - Torn (1997)
Beenie Man - Who Am I (Sim Simma) (1997)
Coldcut - Atomic Moog 2000 (Bullet Train edit) (1997)
SWV ft. Missy Elliot - Can We (1997)
Double 99 - Ripgroove (1997)
Money Mark - Hand In Your Head (1998)
Faith Evans - Love Like This (1998)
Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (1998)
Whitney Houston - It's Not Right But It's Okay (1998)
Tamia - So Into You (1998)
Paul Johnson - Get Get Down (1999)
Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff (1999)
Mr. Oizu - Flat Beat (1999)
Kelis - Caught Out There (1999)
The Messenger AKA Todd Edwards - So Real (1999)
Blink-182 - All The Small Things (1999)
Artful Dodger ft. Craig David - Re-Rewind (1999)
Donnell Jones ft. Left Eye - U Know What's Up (1999)
Larry Heard - Missing You (1999)

As noted previously, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Massive Attack and Tricky selections are songs I love by artists I loathe.

The SL2, Cajmere, and Underground Resistance selections weren't technically the first songs on their respective 12"s but they became A-side anthems in their own rights because they're simply THAT good.

Slint's Spiderland is one of my favourite Other Genres™ 90s albums on some Yank equivalent of Talk Talk's Laughing Stock type shit, but it doesn't have any singles and I'm not too fussed about Slint's actual 10" single.

The entrance to France's Notre-Dame de Royan is my favourite Brutalist architecture which resembles the robot on the cover of A Guy Called Gerald's 28 Gun Bad Boy album.


Jmil843 said...

Great list. As much as I love Left Eye, I always preferred the solo version of that Donnell Jones song.

Anonymous said...

No Aaliyah???

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Nah. Nothing I'd change in this list to make room for anyone else.

GGGGG said...

Need a zip.

Anonymous said...

REM losing my religion
Jamiroquai virtual insanity
Buju Banton Destiny
Sinead O'Connor Nothing compares to you
Tori Amos Silent all these years
Toni Braxton You're makin me high
The Cranberries Linger
Sleeper Inbetweener

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Where's the luv 4 Trouble by Shampoo eh eh?

My tumblr is defunct Dr spot said...

Great list. Particularly pleased to see Jupiter Jazz, Can We, So Into You, Finest Illusion...

Surprised you're a fan of those Blink 182/Green Day/Rancid singles. (FYI so was I.)

I was 5 in 1990 so it's a rose tinted decade for me. Although now I bitterly resent missing out on rave. Oh well.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

I was a sk8er boi so it's in my blood to like some Pop-Punk shit. Combine that with growing up watching MTV Europe too.

Saw Green Day live before Dookie came out, but had to spend most of the show sitting on the stage because I broke my belt stagediving and I was wearing 40" waist shorts on my 32' waist body.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Air Marty at the aforementioned Green Day show, pre the unfortunate belt incident.

The era of cut-off Droors jeans and Puma States. Only person at the show in an Eazy-E t-shirt.

Spartan said...

One Gen X'er to another:

Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy (1990)
Happy Mondays - Step On (1990)
Adamski - Killer (1990)
En Vogue - Hold On (1990)
The Family Stand -Ghetto Heaven (1990)
Bel Biv DeVoe - Poison (1990)
Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart (1990)
DNA feat. Suzanne Vega - Tom’s Diner (1990)
The Future Sound of London - Papua New Guinea (1991)
Prince & The New Power Generation - Gett Off (1991)
Metallica - Enter Sandman (1991)
Guns N Roses - You Could Be Mine (1991)
Jewell - Love Or Lust (1992)
Iron Maiden -Fear Of The Dark (1992)
Prodigy - Out Of Space (1992)
The Criminal Minds - Baptised By Dub (1992)
Liquid - Sweet Harmony (1992)
Baby D - Let Me Be Your Fantasy (1992)
Mary J. Blige - Real Love (1992)
The Cardigans - Rise And Shine (1992)
The Cure - Friday I’m In Love (1992)
Stereo MC’s - Connected (1992)
SL2 - On A Ragga Tip (1992)
Therapy? - Screamager (1993)
Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993)
Janet Jackson - That’s The Way Love Goes (1993)
Kylie Minogue - Confide In Me (1994)
Brand New Heavies - Dream On Dreamer (1994)
Portishead- Sour Times (1994)
M Beat feat. General Levy (1994)
Soundgarden - Black Hole Sun (1994)
Youssou N'Dour - 7 Seconds ft. Neneh Cherry (1994)
Oasis - Whatever (1994)
SWV - Right Here (1994)
Ini Kamoze - Here Comes The Hotstepper (1994)
Elastica - Connection (1994)
Weezer - Buddy Holly (1994)
Groove Theory - Tell Me (1995)
Rob Dougan - Clubbed To Death (Kurayamino Variation) (1995)
Rocket From The Crypt - On A Rope (1995)
Shaggy - Boombastic (1995)
Leftfield - Original (1995)
The Smashing Pumpkins -1979 (1995)
Garbage - Only Happy When It Rains (1995)
Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen - No Diggety (1996)
Mark Morrison - Return Of The Mack (1996)
DJ Shadow - Midnight In A Perfect World (1996)
No Doubt - Don’t Speak (1996)
Mansun - Wide Open Space (1996)
Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground (1996)
Daft Punk - Around The World (1996)
Lamb - Górecki (1997)
Roni Size - Brown Paper Bag (1997)
Smoke City - Underwater Love (1997)
White Town - Your Woman (1997)
Karminsky Experience Inc. - Exploration (1997)
Erykah Badu - On & On (1997)
Blur - Song 2 (1997)
Eagle-Eye Cherry - Save Tonight (1998)
Air - All I Need (1998)
Armand Van Helden - You Don't Know Me (Original Mix) (1998)
Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You (1998)
Death In Vegas - Dirge (1999)
The Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy, Hey Girl (1999)
Fatboy Slim - Right Here, Right Now (1999)
Jamiroquai - King For A Day (1999)

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

GAH! Killer is a glaring omission from my list.

Spartan said...

After all that, I totally boomered my links 😂

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Equal amounts of 😂 and 😭

Ben said...

Great list a blog that introduced me to A-Mafia, Concentration Camp, and all sorts of Rap deep cuts also made me a fan of random songs from other genres I don’t normally listen to.

Ben said...

Great list a blog that introduced me to A-Mafia, Concentration Camp, and all sorts of Rap deep cuts also made me a fan of random songs from other genres I don’t normally listen to.

Ben said...

Great list a blog that introduced me to A-Mafia, Concentration Camp, and all sorts of Rap deep cuts also made me a fan of random songs from other genres I don’t normally listen to.

Ben said...

Great list a blog that introduced me to A-Mafia, Concentration Camp, and all sorts of Rap deep cuts also made me a fan of random songs from other genres I don’t normally listen to.

noah said...

This list is so much yes

Faith no more Easy is so butter

Like Andre Nickatina said — When at the bar watching🏈U hear the guitar 2 Lithium(Nirvana)N u r silently 2 yourself like—FUCK YEAH BISH....

Way in my brain and Original nuttah are both so strong they were still getting spins at SF jungle parties in the early aughts. Prodigy and few others gave me flashbacks to laser lights

Chris Isaak wicked games is the tropical ghost warble the world needs right now

Sour Times is singlehandedly responsible for the Internet cafe boom of the dial up era

Had more fun listening to limp bizkit again than I thought would. I can’t front on break stuff.

Too much good stuff on here

A couple from me, just cause. funk dat. For Tori, I’d go landslide. Prolly some NIN on my list.

One more recco — Noz once posted about the MARS FM archives and there are a lot of cool mixes. Very much in this mode.

Again, thanks for this. I needed it.

P.S @Spartan Thank u for ur jams too. I Just learned that 6 underground is a riff on that song from goldfinger. Cool shit.

Yohan said...

As the most millenial of millenials (based on birth year - '88), I only have music memories of the late'90s. Natalie Imbruglia's Torn was probably the first (and at the very least one of the first) music videos I'd ever seen in my life.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

As a Neighbours fan who fancied Natalie Imbruglia when she played Beth, Torn hit different for me.

Noah, that's the realest shit Nickatina ever wrote, although switch the 🏈 for ⚽️ obviously.

Ben, cheers 🍻

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Re: Limp Bizkit.

Break Stuff is the Institutionalized of Nu-Metal. Which means that My Way is How Will I Laugh Tomorrow of Nu-Metal.

Grant Cohn said...

This is such a generous contribution to the world. Thank you. I'll be listening to this for quite a long time.

step one said...

list is solid. The thought of doing one of my own is too much so well done on this.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Watching early 90s TOTP episodes on BBC4 inspired me to do this.

Step One said...

My main obstacle is would i include songs that are great that I liked at the time (eg No Diggity, Love Like This) but have been overplayed to the point i dont really need to hear them again.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

The only rule for 90s non-Rap singles lists is that you have to include either Way In My Brain or On A Ragga Tip, but if you try to sneak the Way In My Brain remix in instead then your list is automatically #cancelled.

d said...

Luving this shit n I wanna taste the rainbow when Mr zippy comes through.

So much of the late 90s ones are my favs from then s/o flat beat n caught out there. only actual memory I have of early 90s is boom shake the room, I wanna sex you up n en vogue hold on but dunno if they'd make the cut tbh.

Rly impressed ur sticking w your no reggae except shaggy rule lol

d said...

Talk talk are my new fav shit so I need to check out these slint characters asap

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Well, there's a few Dancehall songs in here by Shabba, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Lil' Vicious, and Beenie Man.

D said...

Smh I'm defo illiterate.

Having a hard time rn dealing w murder she wrote being a 90s song, same w Cherise The Day n Wicked Game

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Wicked Game is technically 1989 if you're a Yank, but for the U.K it's 1990 since it wasn't released as a single here until after it appeared in Wild At Heart.

Molloy said...

List conforms to my potentially age related biases that the first half of the 90's was the more interesting. Whenever I see 90's nostalgia lists or catch a 90's club night they largely forget '90 to '93 exists.

L.A said...

Gonna try and make my own list.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Main conclusion with this list is that Europe made better dance music than America in the 90s. The song which 100% conclusively proves this point is the Two Can Play That Game remix where K-Klass transformed an average New Jack Swing single into a piano House classic.

noz said...

you missed du hast

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Had to Google what that is 🤮

just realised zig and zag is a weed reference said...

I've made a playlist on Spotify (missing 8 selections). Feel free not to post/tell me to delete...

Kelvin Mack10zie said...


Absolute state of Spotify not having 28 Gun Bad Boy, Original Nuttah, and Hand In Your Head. And that is why Daniel Ek should be banned from buying Arsenal.

Bobby Dee said...

Great lists, here are ten omissions from a quick scan of my mind garden

Dinosaur Jr The Wagon
Mudhoney Let It Slide
Sonic Youth 100%
Breeders Cannonball
Beck Loser
Cornershop Brimful of Asha
The Orb Little Fluffy Clouds
Underworld Rez
Aphex Twin Analogue Bubblebath
Cajmere Brighter Days

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Cannonball is in my list!

Spartan said...


Kelvin Mack10zie said...

SL2 Rule approved.

You've got Les Nuits twice tho.

I Shot Cody Willis said...

No other rap blog links me to a video of Beth and Annalise talking boys and that's why you're the G.O.A.T.

Spartan's list is great too. Might try and do my own much shitter version soon.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Annalise is the true G.O.A.T 😍

For those of us who still watch Neighbours it's pretty funny that Ned ìs supposed to be Beth's son.

Bobby Dee said...

Sorry M9 missed the Cannonball.

Beth and Annalise stalwarts of the Midland Wank Bank (No HSBC).

I thought of a couple more that would make my list, living in South London in the latter years of the 90's you could not escape

Roy Davis Jr ft Peven Everett - Gabriel (Live Garage Version) - The best garage song of all time IMHO.

Basement Jaxx - Red Alert (Just knocks out Rendez-vu as its quite annoying)

also Goldie - Inner City Life - Jungle you would hear for years in any student party.

Moloko - Sing It Back - Roisin deserves a spot.

Shout out to biggest tracks of late 90's Notting Hill Carnivals

Red Rat - Oh No! (Tight Up Skirt close)
Bounty Killa - Benz & Bimma

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Gabriel is definitely one of my honourable mentions alongside Stone Cold by Groove Chronicles.

Current fave Neighbours bird is Chloe aka April Rose Pengilly, daughter of Kirk Pengilly aka the tall skinny bloke with the glasses from INXS.

noah said...

Whoa re-listening to Tom's Diner unlocked a distant memory of watching this bizarre promo for reruns of I Dream of Jeannie.

Spartan said...

This topic has been a fascinating nostalgic trip for me and raised some personal observations of the period:

A bunch of heavy rotation songs that I assumed were from 1990 were from either 1988 or 1989.

The latter half of the nineties was a necessary comedown to the rave scene, otherwise none of us would have made it to the year 2000.

In hindsight, The Prodigy was to Hardcore what Public Enemy was to Rap, and I feel they both wound up with crusties for their fans of today.

Traditional Metal RIP.

As comical (and annoying at times) as I found Britpop, it was the soundtrack to certain key moments for me, so I'm glad it came and fleetingly went.

Anecdotally, House absolutely dominated. With the exception of myself and my mate Techno Terry, I watched fellow students from a wealth of diverse backgrounds become like one entity and it took me down this crazy rabbit hole this week.

Despite the no Rap rule, it certainly left its mark on this decade's other musical genres.

Cheers for this topic, blud.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Everyone knew a Techno Terry.

Re: The Prodigy and Public Enemy both becoming crusties faves - the same can be said of Jungle innit.

Spartan said...

And without fail, a bunch of songs I predictably forgot:

INXS - Suicide Blonde (1990)
Audio Deluxe - 60 Seconds (1991)
Black Sabbath - T.V. Crimes (1992)*
Motörhead - Hellraiser (1992)
Urban Shakedown feat. Micky Finn & Aphrodite - Some Justice (1992)
Leviticus - Burial (1994)
Monica - Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days) (1995)
Lush - Ladykillers (1996)
DJ Luck & MC Neat - A Little Bit Of Luck (1999)

* Late pass. Didn't cop Dehumanizer 'til late in life.

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Suicide Blonde is definitely one of my honourable mentions.

Spartan said...

Think this has gone on long enough (-‸ლ)

Kelvin Mack10zie said...

Good work. I definitely regret not including Suicide Blond in mine.

Added you to my blogroll.