March 2010

#59 – Aerosmith – “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – (1998)

Remember Armageddon? The movie with Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis and… Liv Tyler? Diane Warren, who primarily wrote this song, said that Celine Dion was the original choice to sing it. Hmm, interesting that it ended up in the hands of Steven Tyler… Conspiracy theories aside, this was Aerosmith’s most successful single of their career, hitting number one and staying there for four weeks. It was also the most overplayed song of the late 90s. Aerosmith had a handful of successful singles from the 1993 album Get a Grip – they also had a minor hit in 1997 with “Pink” (which has a somewhat disturbing music video).

#60 – Primitive Radio Gods – “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” – (1996)

Well I think this takes the prize for “Longest Song Title.” Musically, this is a strange song… there is a strong piano presence, an almost hip-hop like beat in the background, and the chorus is a sample from a B.B. King song – and it’s him singing “I’ve been downhearted baby…” This song was also featured in The Cable Guy but Primitive Radio Gods never really found success with any other songs.

#61 – Savage Garden – “I Want You” – (1997)

When I started writing this one, I thought, “Hmm, this song seems a little high on the list.” Then I listened to it and realized it’s just fine where it’s at. It’s possible that you know this song better as the “chick-a-cherry-cola” song. Savage Garden was an Australian duo who had a handful of other hits as well, including the number one “Truly Madly Deeply” (also from their eponymous debut album). 1999s Affirmation brought the singles “I Knew I Loved You” and “Crash and Burn.”

#62 – Dave Matthews Band – “Crash into Me” – (1996)

I’m not sure what would be considered Dave Matthew’s “signature song” but this has to be on the short list. I’m pretty sure that “Crash into Me” is their most successful single to date (and it was easily the most successful from the album Crash). It’s very smooth and if you listen closely, you’ll notice how awesome the drums are. The song stays really smooth until about the 3:25 mark where the lyrics pick up a bit… great song.

#63 – Boyz II Men – “I’ll Make Love to You” – (1994)

Boyz II Men were slick. I don’t think they are comparable to the boy bands of the late 90s as much as they are to the Temptations. This song stayed at number one on the Hot 100 for a then-record 14 weeks and it is their best – music like this just isn’t made anymore. Their second greatest hit came from 1992’s Boomerang album and that song is “End of the Road.”

#64 – Paula Cole – “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” – (1996)

Paula Cole won Best New Artist at the Grammys in 1997 – mostly because of the success of this song. The best parts are when the music eases out and, instead of singing, it sounds like she’s reading a poem. The lyrics are great and the “do-do-do-do…” that accompanies the music makes for a memorable arrangement. This song cracked the top ten in the U.S. but her follow-up, “I Don’t Want to Wait,” couldn’t quite match that success (it peaked at #11 and was the theme song for the crazy-popular Dawson’s Creek).

#65 – Spin Doctors – “Two Princes” – (1991)

Blender ranked this song as the 21st worst song ever. This is but one reason Blender is one of the worst magazines of all time and why they rank just ahead of VH1 on my unofficial list of horrible sources to trust when it comes to any sort of musical knowledge. This song was parodied excellently on Bill Nye the Science Guy as “Two Eyes.” And for some bizarre reason, the Spin Doctors chose to perform this song on Sesame Street. Their album Pocket Full of Kryptonite also contained the equally awesome hit “Little Miss Can’t be Wrong.”

#66 – Goo Goo Dolls – “Iris” – (1998)

This song was featured in the film City of Angels – a movie that has been responsible for multiple songs on this list. It was also released on Dizzy up the Girl, which itself is responsible for three songs on this list. The music on this track is beautiful with its mandolin, violins and cellos. It’s the Goo Goo Dolls’ most popular song and one of the best slow-dance songs of the decade.

#67 – Kid Rock – “Bawitdaba” – (1998)

Ah, this was one of my very favorites from 1999. I think I know most of the words – even though they are just a bunch of random things strewn together in true rap metal style. Kid followed this up with the hillbilly rap rock song “Cowboy,” which wasn’t too dissimilar to “Bawitdaba.” Devil Without a Cause was the original Kid Rock style. As was the follow-up album, A History of Rock. After the release of that album, Joe C, Kid Rock’s diminutive rapper friend, passed away and the rap left the rap-rock of Kid Rock and we were left with just rock – and the occasional ballad, that started with this album’s “Only God Knows Why.”

#68 – Citizen King – “Better Days (And the Bottom Drops Out)” – (1999)

Citizen King was a one hit wonder and their only hit was a weird alternative rock song with a beat better than most of the hip-hop songs of its day. The song never hit it big and any chart other than the Top 40, where it reached number 10 – it just kind of floated around, never really finding out what it wanted to be. But it was big and it still stands on its own.

#69 – Tom Green – “Lonely Swedish (The Bum Bum Song)” – (1999)

This was never released on an official album. This is easily the most bizarre song on this list but when it came out it created quite a stir. It went to #1 on TRL and was promptly “retired” because, as Tom put it, “it’s not fair to 98 Degrees.” I haven’t seen the music video in a while but it really reminded me of Tom Green’s wild antics, which was everything about his show. But then this song got more airplay when Tom announced he had cancer and the section “My bum is on the cheese/if I get lucky, I’ll get a disease” was played over and over.

#70 – Len – “Steal My Sunshine” – (1999)

Len was a Canadian pop band and they had one hit. And it was a good one. It’s extremely catchy, using all sorts of weird sounds in the background and the lyrics are just kind of repetitive nonsense. The video is what I refer to as “extremely 1999” and it shows that most of the members of this group are, well, doofuses. Well, at least they made one of those good summer songs.

#71 – The Rembrandts – “I’ll Be There for You” – (1995)

Better known as “the Friends theme song,” “I’ll Be There for You” received its fair share of radio airplay. If you haven’t heard this song, try turning on TBS at any hour of the day. The weirdest part about hearing this song is that I know at what part Phoebe starts dancing in the opening of the show. Also, here is a great breakdown of this song from Rob Paravonian.

#72 – U2 – “One” – (1991)

Not only is “One” one of U2’s greatest songs, it is one of the greatest songs. Say what you want about Pop or Zooropa, but Achtung Baby is the only U2 album from the 90s that is still relevant. Mostly because of the two great singles from it that have been featured on this list. U2 is weird in that every few albums or so, they’ll just nail it – then follow it with weak album after weak album. I think they are about due for greatness again.

#73 – Eiffel 65 – “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” – (1999)

Europop was a good choice for a name for this album because that’s exactly what this song is. This was one of the defining songs of 1999 and 2000. And you could start an argument with anyone if you claimed to know what was being said in the song – and there was no way to know, because it was in a time before you just Google a song title and the lyrics would pop up (yes, there was such a time). There was a radio DJ in my town (emphasis on was), who locked himself in the booth and played this song something like 50 times in a row. I loved this song then and I still love it now… how original it sounded using a computer to play with your voice… which is unfortunately all too common today – thanks, T-Pain.

#74 – Smash Mouth – “Walkin’ On the Sun” – (1997)

Yes, the first Smash Mouth album had a Parental Advisory Warning. Things have changed since 1997 haven’t they? Plus, the album was called Fush Yu Mang, which is a joke I didn’t get for many years. “Walkin’ On the Sun” was their first hit and it really put them on the map and it’s part of the reason Astro Lounge was such a big hit two years later.

#75 – Pearl Jam – “Betterman” – (1994)

What I love about this song is how it starts off slow, almost ballad-like. Then there is this turning point where the song suddenly becomes an awesome rock song. Vitalogy was otherwise devoid of lasting hits but I’ll go ahead and mention “Yellow Ledbetter” which was an outtake from Ten but was released as the b-side to the “Jeremy” single. “Yellow Ledbetter” is famous not because of massive airplay (it got some, and still does) – but because it’s nearly impossible to understand what in the hell Eddie Vedder is going on about.

#76 – Lit – “My Own Worst Enemy” – (1999)

“My Own Worst Enemy” was one of the top alternative rock songs of 1999 and it was everywhere. Two other semi-popular singles came off of A Place in the Sun. There was “Miserable” – which was more famous for its music video that featured Pamela Anderson. There was also the pretty decent (and very 90s) song “Zip-Lock.”

#77 – MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This” – (1990)

Hammer Pants! If you can do a good rendition of the “Hammertime Dance,” then I suggest you do it – always. Oh, MC Hammer everybody loved you – even white people… especially white people – which is why your fall from grace is so odd. You were once the king of cool… 15 years later you’re doing bankruptcy commercials. This is one of those songs that you can sing every word and you know you love “Super Freak” going on in the background. It’s easily one of the best rap songs of all time. Also from Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em was his cover of the Chi-Lites’ “Have You Seen Her?” (And you’re right – this song should be higher on the list).

#78 – Goo Goo Dolls – “Slide” – (1998)

“Slide” was a big hit on both the Adult Top 40 and Modern Rock charts (actually it was a number one on both). It only hit number 8 on the Hot 100, but it help solidify Dizzy Up The Girl as one of the best albums of the 1990s – and the Goo Goo Dolls as masters of alternative pop music. The only big single from this album that didn’t make this list was “Broadway.”

#79 – Madonna – “Ray Of Light” – (1998)

Ray of Light was Madonna’s best effort from the 90s (or ever). Some of the music on this album, especially this song, was more electronic in style than the straightforward pop style everyone was used to from her. This song borders on trance music and the music video was available in “Special Edition VHS” format (how 90s is that?). Some other singles from this album include “Frozen” and “The Power of Good-Bye” – although in 1999 she had a hit with the theme to the second Austin Powers movie with “Beautiful Stranger.”

#80 – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – “Zoot Suit Riot” – (1997)

This is the swing revival hit. Or, at least, it’s the most fun. It’s also the most faithful to the style of original swing music. I mean, seriously, watch this music video… and NO! this song was not in The Mask. That song was “Hey Pachuco” by Royal Crown Revue. Why I’m talking about The Mask I’m not sure, but don’t forget about Jim Carrey’s version of “Cuban Pete.”

#81 – Cardigans – “Lovefool” – (1996)

I think this qualifies as the Cardigans biggest song (easily). Especially in the United States because of its inclusion in Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet – you know, the weird modernized version with Leonardo DiCaprio where they run around in crazy cars and have gunfights at gas stations but still use the original dialogue. Yeah, well that helped this songs popularity, believe it or not. The Cardigans did have a follow-up to The First Band on the Moon – it was 1998s Gran Turismo and it featured “Erase/Rewind” and “My Favourite Game.”

#82 – Everlast – “What It’s Like” – (1998)

It’s hard to believe that this well-written song came from the same guy behind “Jump Around.” This really is an absolutely fantastic song – if you really listen to the lyrics. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that in recent years the radio version has become more and more censored. Instead of playing a weird electronic shriek over f-bombs like they’ve been doing since 1998, now they just blur the lyrics when he says words like “clinic” or “smoke” or “green.” What is wrong with America? You can’t make reference to drugs – not actually saying their name but just saying “smoke?” Really? It’s sad that just a powerful song can be ruined by people who are apparently offended way too easily.

#83 – Squirrel Nut Zippers – “Hell” – (1997)

One of the better band names you’ll ever see. They are also one of the better bands you’re likely to come across. By better I mean that their blend of musical styles makes for something very interesting and very original. The best I can do to classify “Hell” is to toss it in with the Swing Revival musical movement of the mid-to-late-90s. This song is infectious if you give it a chance. “Hell” was their only charting single but it isn’t necessarily their best song – we’ll explore more of them some other time.

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