downloadDonald O’Connor & Debbie Reynolds – “Chrissy the Christmas Mouse” – (1992)

I bet you didn’t even know this was a thing. It is, you’re welcome. It’s not great, but people who are of an age where they love Debbie Reynolds or Donald O’Connor, they seem to enjoy this well enough. I hope this gets stuck in your head for days.

220px-tlc-tipTLC – “Baby-Baby-Baby” – (1992)

Baby was a popular word in early-90s pop music, apparently. Also, TLC’s cover for this single looks like a still image from a Nickelodeon show from ’92. This was the girl group’s second-ever single and first huge hit. This song just goes to remind us all that the girls from TLC are all now in their mid-40s, which makes me feel old.

220px-Home_For_Christmas_-_Amy_GrantAmy Grant feat. The Children’s Choir & The London Studio Orchestras – “The Night Before Christmas” – (1992)

This song, written by Carly Simon, isn’t exactly one you hear on the radio but it’s one I’ve heard a thousand times. The choirs in the background add a nice effect – even though it’s all kids… whose parents probably spent any royalties that came their way. Yay, exploit children for Christmas.

Amy Grant – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – (1992)

This song, originally recorded by Judy Garland for Meet Me in St. Louis, has been covered by numerous artists, some quite successfully. It’s a Christmas standard and Amy Grant’s version from her hugely-selling Christmas album is pretty well done.

Patty Smyth & Don Henley – “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” – (1992)

I could’ve sworn this song was from the 80s. Nope – 1992. But hey, adult contemporary from the early 1990s might as well have been from the 80s because it all sounds very similar. Also, let’s note that this is by Patty Smyth, former lead singer of Scandal and not Patti Smith, the punk singer. Big distinction. And of course, Don Henley, the Eagle. This was an Adult Contemporary #1 and a #2 on the Hot 100. And I’ve always thought Patty Smyth sounds like a country singer in this song. Am I crazy?

Alice in Chains – “Rooster” – (1992)

This is one of Alice in Chain’s most well-known songs and it’s the one track that got me into the band (not literally, I’m not a member, but I was a pretty big fan). This song peaked at #7 on the Mainstream Rock chart and still receives airplay on hard rock radio stations. I like how the verses are almost just spoken while the chorus is this loud booming thing. In the era of 140 character tweets and six-second videos, this is among the rare 6+ minute songs that I don’t mind listening to in full.

Amy Grant – “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” – (1992)

Amy Grant, whose career began in Christian music eventually found herself atop the Adult Contemporary scene in the early-1990s. In 1992, she released this Christmas album, Home for Christmas. Strangely, this song was actually a #1 hit on the very popular Christian Radio-Adult Contemporary chart. It’s an original, written by Grant and songwriter Chris Eaton. This album was massively successful, selling over 2.5 million copies as of December 2012. Oh, and yes, I completely realize how strange it is to follow a Godsmack song with a Christian Christmas hit from Amy Grant. But we’re into Christmas music season at least through Christmas.

R.E.M. – “Drive” – (1992)

Generally, I’ve noticed that the faster the R.E.M. song, the better. Here’s an exception. This was the first single from Automatic for the People and it wasn’t a huge smash like some of their then-recent singles. But it did top the Modern Rock chart and became the band’s second-biggest single they’d had in the U.K. up to that point. For whatever reason, this song has always reminded me of “Rock On” by David Essex. Not too sure what the connection is there, but this is a good song.

Annie Lennox – “Walking on Broken Glass” – (1992)

What an awesome song. Annie Lennox, one of the queens of popular music, who is best known for her work with the Eurythmics, had this kick ass adult alternative hit in 1992. It was a top 15 in the U.S. and a #1 in Canada. This song has an excellent arrangement – strings! And, of course, the vocals are second to none and could not have been recorded to this standard by any other artist. This might actually be one of the better songs of the entire decade, if you knew what decade it came out in – which kind of confused me at first but makes sense now. And on that album cover, doesn’t she kind of look like Gloria Estefan or something?

Madonna – “This Used to be My Playground” – (1992)

I do not like this song. It is sappy and sounds like a lot of the crap that came out in the 80s that was supposed to sound sappy. The lyrical delivery sounds… bored. This was the theme from the movie A League of Their Own – in which Madonna starred. Somehow, it hit #1 in the U.S. for a week – it must have been a lousy week. If you’re into #1 hits like I am, then you’re familiar with it… sorry, I’m falling asleep listening to it as I write this.

Go West – “King of Wishful Thinking” – (1990)

This is a great tune, originally used in the 1990 film Pretty Woman – and also featured on its soundtrack. It was released on Go West’s 1992 album Indian Summer as well. There is a very 90s dance beat backing the vocals – there is even a brass section that gives it a hint of tropical-ness (or it does to me, anyway). It was a top ten in the U.S. and Australia and it’s a song I’ve always liked since the first time I heard it. Definitely worth a listen if you don’t know it.

Jon Secada – “Just Another Day” – (1992)

I’ll admit it: there are some weeks where every song we feature isn’t necessarily awesome. It’s old and you may have forgotten about it – but there might be a reason you’ve forgotten about it. But let’s be honest, the three songs featured this week are pretty kickass. A Sting classic on Monday. The best, upbeat Michael Bolton song in existence. And now this. Jon Secada is a Cuban born performer and this album was his English-language debut. And this song was a top five hit in the U.S. and the biggest of his career stateside. It has a definite Latin feel with an almost dance beat. And the lyrics are masterfully delivered. This song was actually the genesis for this list. For whatever reason, I’ve always assumed this came out in the mid-1980s. It reminds me of a mix of Benny Mardones and Gloria Estefan. Which is weird, I know. Listening to it right now, it’s so obviously from the early 90s. Those first post-Miami Sound Machine Estefan years that put south Florida in the Latin music spotlight (where it would return about nine years later). I also always assumed it was featured in an episode of Miami Vice (it wasn’t). It’s a fantastic song and one of my absolute favorites from the early 90s.

Celine Dion – “If You Asked Me To” – (1992)

Originally recorded by Patti LaBelle for the soundtrack to the late-80s James Bond movie License to Kill, “If You Asked Me To” was the second single from Celine Dion’s eponymous album, released in 1992. It was a top five hit in the U.S. and a #1 in Canada. You’d be hard-pressed to listen to any Celine Dion song and say it was a cover because she has such a unique voice. And this was one of the very first hits that showcased that unique voice that would become one of the biggest of the 1990s.

#30 – Stone Temple Pilots – “Creep” – (1992)

This was actually a hard one. Core was STP’s debut album and it is packed with awesome 90s rock songs. “Take time with a wounded hand, cause it likes to heal” is the lyric that stands out the most, other than “I’m half the man I used to be.” Do they even say “creep” in this song? This song is more ballad-like than some of the others but I just really like it. Stone Temple Pilots are one of my favorite bands of the era and they don’t always come up in talks about “grunge bands” but they should because this is a hell of an album that came out right in the midst of the grunge era.

#47 – The Cure – “Friday, I’m in Love” – (1992)

Well this is a big change, style-wise, from the past three songs. We’ve gone from punk to metal to grunge to… whatever The Cure is. I’m not a huge fan of The Cure, Robert Smith is just too weird and most of their songs are kind of whiney. However, “Friday, I’m in Love” is an amazing song that I’ve always loved. The Cure is a rock group and this is an alternative rock song so it is eligible for this list – but yeah, it does sound like pop music. “I don’t care if Monday’s black. Tuesday, Wednesday – heart attack. Thursday, never looking back. It’s Friday, I’m in love.”

Adam Sandler – “The Thanksgiving Song” – (1992)

Adam Sandler first performed this song on Saturday Night Live in 1992 and it appeared on his debut album a year later (although the album version was recorded at a live event elsewhere). There aren’t many Thanksgiving songs and this is one of the more popular. It’s funny and childish and simple – but hey, it’s Adam Sandler (and that’s a good thing).

#34 – Soul Asylum – “Runaway Train” – (1992)

Soul Asylum “technically isn’t a one-hit wonder,” as they had another Top 40 hit, but if you want to go ahead and consider them one, I won’t tell anyone. I’m pretty sure this qualifies as “a good song” based on subject matter and lyrics. There were multiple versions of the video featuring missing children and teens. There are all sorts of weird stories concerning them: some of them returned home (sometimes to bad homes) and others were eventually found murdered. I hope that no one lets that take away from an otherwise stellar song.

#38 – En Vogue – “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” – (1992)

Okay, I didn’t realize until just know that the title of #39 is “Vogue” and the group name of #38 is En Vogue. Yeah, that’s weird – and unintentional. The gals in this group were very talented vocally – perhaps that is why they were chosen to appear as the guest vocalists on Salt-N-Pepa’s “Whatta Man” (which is an awesome song in its own right). Neither of these songs achieved the success of 1996’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)” – unfortunately, I can never remember what song that actually is from the title alone, although I recognize it immediately upon hearing it.

#40 – Gin Blossoms – “Hey Jealousy” – (1992)

“Tomorrow we can drive around this town/and let the cops chase us around” is a very familiar lyric from this song. I’m not sure if this is technically the bands biggest single (I can’t see why it wouldn’t be) but it’s definitely their most recognizable. The only other major airplay-earning single from New Miserable Experience was “Found out about You,” although the singles “Until I Fall Away” and “Allison Road” were both hits on the Modern Rock charts. (Note: seemingly half of this album, and half of their singles, were previously released on more obscure albums from the bands pre-fame days).

#91 – Eric Clapton – “Tears in Heaven (Unplugged)” – (1992)

Unplugged was a great television institution. They (MTV) took great artists and made them play acoustically. Now, it would be miraculous is they took artists and made them do anything musical. This brilliant piece of music was written about the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son and this makes the song that much more haunting than it already is. I’ll grant you that Eric Clapton may not fit with the general pop-music theme of this list – he’s been churning out this since the 60s – but this song was very popular (it hit no. 2 on the Hot 100) and it’s definitely one of the best songs of the decade. Clapton also helped rejuvenate his career with the Unplugged version of his (Derek & The Dominos) 1970 classic “Layla.” In 1996, he released the incredibly popular (#5) “Change the World” from the soundtrack for the Travolta movie Phenomenon. And 1998 saw the spectacular “My Father’s Eyes.” Clapton no longer plays “My Father’s Eyes” or “Tears in Heaven” and I think that only adds to their luster.

#95 – House of Pain – “Jump Around” – (1992)

This song is awesome. It’s relatively simple, musically – just kind of the same short little thing over and over… and that weird electronic screaming. Then there’s Everlast rapping… or just yelling “jump” over and over… a Jock Jams classic. Since #96 centered on Euro-dance music, I’ll let #95 revolve around U.S. based hip hop, and mention “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” by Us3 (with Gerard Presencer on trumpet). “Cantaloop” is technically classified as “jazz rap” – which is so popular – and it was from a group signed to a jazz label… the song is just sweet. Hmm, #95 has become just as much about Us3 as House of Pain.

#115 – Blind Melon – “No Rain” – (1992)

Everything about this song fits in perfectly to the early 90s – it could have come straight from Seattle (it didn’t). It has such a distinct sound and lyrics. The video is memorable in its own right with the Bee Girl running and dancing around. There were many good frontmen that were lost in the 90s, and Shannon Hoon is among them. The sound of his voice on this track is so cool…

#174 – Mariah Carey feat. Trey Lorenz – “I’ll Be There” – (1992)

Mariah Carey dominated the charts throughout the 90s. When she performed on MTV: Unplugged, she sang this duet with her backup singer Trey Lorenz. “I’ll Be There” was a smash hit – hitting number one. Music Box was the follow up CD to Unplugged and it spawned two massive singles as well: “Without You” and “Hero.”

#183 – Barenaked Ladies – “Brian Wilson” – (1992)

I lifted this from Wikipedia: “Brian Wilson rearranged and sang this song a cappella with his new band at live concerts, one of which was recorded for a live album he recorded in 2000. One of the stories the band often tells is about the time he came to their studio while they were recording Maroon. They played him a bunch of their new songs, and then he played them his version of “Brian Wilson”. At the end, he turned to them and asked, “Is it cool?” Upon his departure, his advice to the band was “don’t eat too much.” The band described the entire experience as surreal.”

If you like “Brian Wilson,” be sure to check out “If I Had $1000000” (also from Gordon) – if you don’t already know it by heart.