Let’s just clear something up, if you’re looking for a cool list of influential ’90s classics, you’ve come to the wrong place. This is for people who were steadfastly approaching puberty in that glorious decade and working their way through a mine-field of music that was awful and amazing in equal measure.
Yes, we were all aware of The Verve, Radiohead and Pulp, and we like to act like we listened to little else. But truthfully, was there anyone among us who couldn’t get enough of TLC and had a real soft spot for the dulcet tones of Meredith Brooks?
This list should hopefully bring back memories of your ‘terrible music’ stage. And just think: at least we’re not in the Noughties phase of Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.
Listen to the Spotify playlist at the end of this post to revel in your younger listening habits.
Meredith Brooks – Bitch (1997)
“I hate the world today, duhh duhh, you’re so good to me, I know but I can’t change, duhh duhh,” as angsty teenage girls all over the land sang in unison, with a little more emphasis on the ‘duhh’ than was required. This (Grammy nominated) song was pretty much the only one of hers we loved. But we loved it hard.
Savage Garden – Truly Madly Deeply (1997)
First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate that spectacular artwork? Wow. Wow. Wow. It looks like a spoof. Maybe it was? Maybe the whole Savage Garden thing was one big, fat joke that we all fell for? Regardless, who can deny that they’ve played ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ on repeat when splitting up with a 12 year old beau, imagining standing on a mountain with them? And swimming with them in the sea? No. Me neither. I was probably too busy listening to Pulp, or something.
No Doubt – Don’t Speak (1995)
Of course No Doubt are perfectly credible but this particular song brings back memories of wailing along in all seriousness, while fully kitted out in scrunchies, chokers and face glitter.
The Cardigans – Love Fool (1995)
This one comes hand in hand with ‘Don’t Speak’. Released the same year, No Doubt and The Cardigans were the younger crowd’s answer to Blur v Oasis. It’s a toughie.
TLC – No Scrubs (1999)
What to say about this one? It speaks for itself. Never mind the ’90s, ‘No Scrubs’ is one of the best R’n’B songs of all time. Fact.
Eagle Eyed Cherry – Save Tonight (1997)
We all wanted Eagle Eyed Cherry to save us. What a voice. It was a close call between this and ‘Falling in Love Again’, which also deserves some recognition.
Garbage – Stupid Girl (1995)
Another contender to knock No Doubt or The Cardigans off the top spot, we all used to love listening to ‘Stupid Girl’ while feeling smugly superior that we were most definitely not a stupid girl. Undoubtedly you sung it, while sticking pins into a homemade voodoo doll and cursing the school sports captain.
Peter Andre – Mysterious Girl (1996)
In all seriousness, I thought that haircut was hot.Who doesn’t love the twiglet-plastered-to-your-forehead look? In 1996, everybody did. We all wanted to be the subject of the song. Sigh.
Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know (1995)
“And every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it” was undoubtedly the favourite line of all teenage girls listening to this song back in the day. We all sung it with an embarrassingly innocent sneer on our faces. I was nine. I very much doubt I was scratching my nails down anything other than the blackboard, to piss off my sister.
TLC – Waterfalls (1994)
Oops. TLC have slipped in again. How did that happen? I’m not even a fan or anything… Was anyone else pretty sure the lyrics to this song were actually “Don’t go, Jason Waterfalls?” Yes, everyone.
Gina G – Ooh Ahh… Just a Little Bit (1996)
What wasn’t to love about this? The perfect Friday night youth-club party song. And I challenge anyone to not remember every single word to this very day.
Radiohead – Creep (1993)
From the 1993 album Pablo Honey, it might seem that this one doesn’t quite fit in here, wedged between Chumbawumba and Gina G. But the thing is, it does. Because we all felt that we could relate to the lyrics. In the same way that Alanis Morisette made us feel little bit edgy and grown up, ‘Creep’ convinced us that we were unique in our internal weirdness. Yes, we were likely a little bit behind the times on this (I was seven when it was released) but we caught on to it early, and cherished it.
Chumbawumba – Tubthumping (1997)
This was a great pre-pubescent party song. And let’s face it, we all just loved getting away with singing “pissing the night away” over and over again, with little or no repercussions. Those were some wild times.
Ace of Base – All That She Wants (1992)
We were so funky, strutting around to this with our Adidas poppers on. Or maybe this was more around the time of the floppy, velvet hats with roses on the front? You know the ones.
Deep Blue Something – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1993)
I genuinely think I still know every single word to this song. I love it, OK.
Babybird – You’re Gorgeous
God, it seems like this list has spent its time either wishing it was a fully grown woman singing about being bitches or jealous maniacs, or the subject of an obsessive man. But yes, we all wanted to be the one Babybird was singing about.
Spice Girls – Wannabe (1993)
You didn’t think we were going to miss out the most important single of the 90s did you? The breakthrough song from everyone’s favourite girl band. Playing Posh Spice in a dancing display to this song is still one of my finest moments to date. Which is a worry.
Goo Goo Dolls – Iris (1998)
More angst driven weirdo-ness. Dizzy Up The Girl was a a truly awful album, but one we all loved at the time.
Emilia – I’m a Big Big Girl (1998)
Another pre-pubescent break up song. “I’m a big, big girl / In a big, big world / It’s not a big, big thing if you leave me” we sung to ourselves after our high school ‘boyfriend’ ignored us in the corridor for the fourth day in a row.
Sir MixaLot – Baby Got Back
This single came with the golden ticket: Parental Advisory, Explicit Content. Sold. Opening with the line, “Oh, my, god. Becky, look at her butt. It is so big”, Sir MixaLot was basically everything that Nicki Minaj wishes she could be.
Listen to the 90s Guilty Pleasures playlist on Spotify: