220px-Janetperiod1993Janet Jackson – Any Time, Any Place – 1993

If you don’t remember this song, you’re not alone. But it was a #2 hit for Janet in 1994. It was the fifth single from janet. It’s just classic, smooth R&B. The success of this song gave Ms. Jackson a Billboard record: the only artist with three consecutive albums to place five singles in the top 10. 

Music_Box_Mariah_CareyMariah Carey – “Anytime You Need a Friend” – (1993)

Music Box was one of Mariah Carey’s biggest albums and while this wasn’t even among the album’s three biggest songs, it still managed to hit #12 on the Hot 100 (it was the album’s fourth and final single). Remember, in the early 1990s, Mariah still had the full range of that amazing voice (it changed as the decade progressed to where she tried to stay as high as possible in that range by ’99). But what’s great here is the gospel feel the song has with those backing vocals.

Celine Dion & Clive Griffin – “When I Fall in Love” – (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle may have been the defining “chick flick” or romantic comedy of the 90s. It was produced by David Foster and recorded by Celine Dion – who was coming on strong about this time – and Clive Griffin. Griffin’s spot was supposed to be Stevie Wonder, but I think that may have overshadowed everything. This is Griffin’s best-known work and biggest hit. This is a Grammy-winning song but it wasn’t eligible for an Oscar as it wasn’t original. The song appeared first on the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack before coming out on Celine’s The Colour of My Love later that year.

Salt-n-Pepa with En Vogue – “Whatta Man” – (1993)

This is one of the most popular songs by either Salt-n-Pepa or En Vogue (the best girl group the 90s, sorry TLC). “What a Man” was originally recorded as a soul track in 1968 by Linda Lyndell. En Vogue covered it and layered a Salt-n-Pepa rap over top of it to generate a top three hit on the Hot 100. It was also nominated for a Grammy. It’s an awesome 90s track.

George Michael & Elton John – “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” – (1991)

Obviously this song was a big hit for Elton John in 1974, reaching #2 on the Hot 100. In 1991, he and George Michael performed the song as a duet during the Live Aid concert. This version went to #1 on the Hot 100 and on charts around the world. This version was included on Elton John’s 1993 album Duets. The first part of the song is George Michael just blowing everyone away with incredible vocals and then he brings out Elton who kills it. This is an amazing version. It’s two incredible voices battling it out and we all win.

Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, & Sting – “All For Love” – (1993)

The movie was The Three Musketeers and I guess Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, and Sting were supposed to be the musical equivalent of the Three Musketeers? Maybe in 1993. Now it seems a little absurd. Let’s look at where they are now: Bryan Adams has all but disappeared off the face of the Earth after a fairly decent and long career. Sting is still a fairly well-liked and well-respected public figure, but he doesn’t put out a lot of new radio-friendly music these days. And Rod Stewart stopped singing original songs over a decade ago – releasing CD after CD of standards. This was a #1 hit on the Hot 100. The title is inspired by the Three Musketeers motto “All for one, and one for all” and was transposed into this romantic soft rock song. Ooookay.

2 Unlimited – “No Limit” – (1993)

Like 90s techno-errrr… eurodance? Eurodance was a nice way of saying “techno” back in the 1990s. They were songs by European artists that had pumping, electronic beats. 2 Unlimited was from the Netherlands and this definitely has a pumping, electronic beat. I’ve always wondered where this music was playing in the U.S… presumably at rave-y clubs that you’d see on a show like Nash Bridges. Crazily enough, this was Europe’s biggest-selling song in 1993, hitting #1 in nearly every European country. Watch the video… if you thought the 90s were weird in the U.S. – Europe had it pretty bad.

Ace of Base – “All That She Wants” – (1993)

I was at bar trivia a few weeks ago and there was a song regarding “this Swedish pop group was the first to have four major singles from one album” or something like that. Everyone guessed ABBA. I didn’t. I know my Ace of Base, apparently. Maybe it’s because this was one of the first CDs I owned. And this is one of the best songs on the album. This was the group’s first single and it was a #1 pretty much everywhere in Europe and it hit #2 on the Hot 100. It was huge – and their bigger hits were still to come. Great song.

The Four Seasons – “December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (Ben Liebrand Remix)” – (1993)

Yeah, I don’t have a link to purchase this song because it is really hard to find. If you’re creative, you can get it from the link to the YouTube video above. “December 1963” was a big hit for the Four Seasons when it was originally released in 1975, hitting #1 on the Hot 100 in March of 1976. In 1988 it was remixed by Dutch DJ Ben Liebrand and remixed again in 1993. This 1993 remix was a huge radio smash, reaching #14 on the Hot 100 and extending the songs all-time weeks on the Hot 100 to 27 weeks, a then record. This remix is the version you most often hear on Adult Contemporary radio stations today. So yeah, decade confusion all over the place here. The remix has some added beats in the background but there are some people who, without hearing them back to back, couldn’t tell you which one was the original.

Jimmy Buffett – “Another Saturday Night” – (1993)

Why must some songs be so hard to find (bear with that video, it gets there)? This cover of Sam Cooke’s classic was released on the 1993 album Margaritaville Café: Late Night Menu. No, it was not a Jimmy Buffett studio album. It was a compilation album – actually the first of three – that Buffett released that included recordings by a number of artists that regularly performed at his Margaritaville restaurants. He, Buffett, also included a few new recordings of his own on each. So what’s the deal here? Well it has the same sound and feel as the rest of his songs from the 1980s.

Maze feat. Frankie Beverly – “Twilight” – (1993)

This awesome instrumental track from 1993 sounds a lot like mid-1980s hip-hop to me. Maze was (or, I guess, still technically is) an R&B/Soul/Funk group from San Francisco. They formed in 1976. Their most recent studio album is 1993’s Back to Basics. And the final track on that album is this super slick, rockin’ instrumental hit. All right, it was never a hit – never even charted. But it did appear on a Gran Theft Auto video game. And I’ve seen a single release date of 1989 somewhere, but it didn’t appear on a studio album until 1993.

Duran Duran – “Come Undone” – (1993)

This is an awesome song. It has an almost inspirational feel to it – listen to the way the lyrics are delivered: they build and build to a steady beat and then Tessa Niles comes in with her background vocals for a second and then Simon Le Bon is back to hit a crescendo. It’s great. It was a top ten in the U.S. – hitting #2 in Canada (the highest charting country for the song). But then we’re back to the Duran Duran thing of me assuming everything they did came out in the 80s. Sorry guys, your sound is and always has been, almost the same.

Jimmy Cliff – “I Can See Clearly Now” – (1993)

Decade confusion here stems from this being a quite faithful cover of a song originally released by Johnny Nash in 1972. Jamaican reggae singer Jimmy Cliff recorded this song for the soundtrack for the 1993 film Cool Runnings starring John Candy. It climbed up a number of U.S. and international charts, hitting the top 10 on three different U.S. charts. Not only is Cool Runnings a great movie, but this is a great song and personally, I like it better than the original.

Sting – “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You” – (1993)

Ten Summoner’s Tales is one bad-ass Sting album. And it starts with this song, the biggest hit of the album. It’s a good one with the right blend of early-90s adult contemporary and light rock – and the one-of-a-kind voice of Sting. It was a top 20 hit in the U.S. – and could it have been just as big in the 80s? Absolutely.

Duran Duran – “Ordinary World” – (1993)

Duran Duran put an album out a few years ago and I remember hearing things (I think on VH1) about how huge it was that Duran Duran was putting out a new album. Like they were The Beatles or something. I thought “Oh, a follow-up to ‘Hungry Like the Wolf?’ Cool.” Well it turns out they’ve done stuff between then and now – and it’s often referred to as The Wedding Album – due to the cover art of their self-titled 1993 album. It’s actually a really good song, even if it sounds like their 80s stuff (although a little less synth-y). It peaked at #3 on the Hot 100.

Bryan Adams – “Please Forgive Me” – (1993)

So Far So Good was Bryan Adams’ 1993 Greatest Hits album and this was a brand new track that was tacked on to the end of it. The album also contained many other Bryan Adams songs that were popular in the 1980s – the decade I most associate with Bryan Adams. Fun fact: this was Bryan Adams only #1 hit in Australia that was not written for a motion picture. Which begs the question: how many movie theme songs has this guy done? A lot apparently, and there’s at least one more to come on this list.

Sting – “Fields of Gold” – (1993)

This song would’ve been popular in the 80s – but it has one very 90s thing going for it. And that is the almost Enigma-like use of the Northumbrian smallpipes. That’s right, name another song using that instrument. Don’t forget Sting’s vocal touch: lyrics that are soft and well-delivered and decipherable followed immediately by some word you cannot understand. Ten Summoner’s Tales, for my money, was Sting’s last great album (the lead single from Brand New Day) notwithstanding. And this is about as good as solo Sting comes (again, “Desert Rose” notwithstanding).

The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – (1988)

“When I wake up, yeah I know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the man who wakes up next to you… And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more just to be the man who walked 1,000 miles to fall down at your door.” The Proclaimers, of Scotland – with their thick, Scottish accents – released this song on their album Sunshine on Leith in 1988. It was a big hit in the U.K. and Australia immediately upon its release. It hit #3 in the U.S. in 1993, which is why I associate it with the 1990s. So this is a legitimate instance of decade confusion, and a good way to wrap up our initial discussion. Next up, we’ll focus on songs from the 1970s that I associate more so with the 1980s.

Aerosmith – “Crazy” – (1993)

“You say that you’re leaving on a 7:30 train and you’re heading out to Hollywood.” This is definitely a bluesy rock track from those opening lyrics. “Crazy” was the final single released from Get a Grip and it came out as a single in 1994. Again, not their best work, in fact, the song drives me a little crazy (yeah, I rolled my eyes too). Strangely, this is another Aerosmith song that features Alicia Silverstone in the video. I’m not sure what the obsession was, but she starred in three of the band’s videos in the early 90s. It made her famous, but I wouldn’t say it benefitted the band – but what do I know?

#22 – Cracker – “Low” – (1993)

“Low” is a prime example of “post-grunge” music from the early-to-mid-90s. The guitar is kinda whiney, the lyrics sound like they are being sung by someone who is a little hung over (and still a little drunk) and angry. It’s a great song to belt along with because the somewhat raspy and quite loud (but not bad) voice of lead singer David Lowery will help drown out whatever you sound like. Plus it’s an intense rock song that you can really get into. “I’ll be with you girl, like being low, hey, hey, hey, like being stoned.” Go head, get into it.

#33 – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – (1993)

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ 1993 Greatest Hits album would be a great album to own considering all of the hits that were contained on it (including Petty’s solo stuff from Full Moon Fever). But then add one of the greatest songs Tom Petty ever did as a brand new track. It has a blues-rock feeling but throw in the reminiscing and nostalgia that the lyrics contain and you get a mid-western, almost Mellencamp-y, feel. Some people like this because they say “Mary Jane”… and I’m sure these same people giggle and snicker because they think they are being sneaky talking about drugs. Well, whatever it’s about, it has a great vibe – although the music video, where Tom Petty (morgue assistant) brings home a dead body (Kim Basinger) and keeps her around the house Weekend at Bernie’s-style.

#42 – Aerosmith – “Cryin’” – (1993)

This list is simply titled “rock songs” and we’re going all over the rock genre: from synthpop to bluesy power ballad. Check that, a bluesy power ballad with Alicia Silverstone in the music video. I’ll be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy listening to this song. “So why’d you pick it?” Well, “Livin’ on the Edge” sounds like it’s from the 80s, “Crazy” is even worse, and anything from later in the decade doesn’t have the same Aerosmith feel to it that these early-90s songs do. And Aerosmith needed to be represented on this list – they were major artists in the decade (we used “I Don’t’ Want to Miss a Thing” on the other countdown). You know who else is in this video? Sawyer from Lost.

#45 – Candlebox – “Far Behind” – (1993)

This early post-grunge (that’s really breaking it down, isn’t it?) song was, statistically, Candlebox’s biggest hit, charting in the top 20 on the Hot 100. As was our #48 song – er, make that band (Temple of the Dog), “Far Behind” is also a tribute song to Andrew Wood. Candlebox was formed in Seattle in 1991 during the height of grunge so it’s no surprise that they were successful. I think anyone in Seattle could have formed a band between 1989 and 1992 and they would have found success – not to take away from those who did. The self-titled Candlebox album was their largest, going Platinum 4x.

#11 – Counting Crows – “Mr. Jones” – (1993)

There are people who really don’t like the Counting Crows, but I don’t understand how you can’t like this song. I can understand not liking some of their work, but not this. The lyrics in this song are a lot of fun: “Grey is my favorite color, I felt so symbolic yesterday, if I knew Picasso, I would buy myself a grey guitar and play.” Or: “I want to be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.” Yeah, I still don’t really know what this song is actually about. Also from August and Everything After:Round Here,” which is okay at best. In 1994 the band released an album called DGC Rarities, Vol. 1 and it contained the never-released-as-a-single-but-still-Modern Rock #1 hit “Einstein on the Beach (For an Eggman)” – which is an awesome song (but I’m not sure about the video I linked to, it’s the only one I could find).

#14 – Sarah McLachlan – “Possession” – (1993)

Sarah McLachlan has one of the best voices I can think of. This song is proof of that. The opening verse is accompanied with little instrumentation and it has a really cool sound to it. Then there’s the chorus: “And I would be the one/to hold you down/kiss you so hard/I’ll take your breath away/and after I/wipe away the tears/just close your eyes dear.” My favorite part of the song is the weird effect her voice makes when she sings: “oh you speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhymes.” Her voice really is incomparable and I have a rule in my car that Sarah McLachlan never gets the channel changed on her. This song probably isn’t as famous as “I Will Remember You” but it’s just as good.