Blessid_Union_of_Souls_(album)Blessid Union of Souls – “I Wanna Be There” – (1997)

It’s interesting to me how people don’t seem to remember Blessid Union of Souls. They had four top 40 hits in the late 90s, with a fair number of other singles receiving regular radio airplay. This was a top 40 hit and is probably among the band’s most-remembered songs (and one of their best). It was the lead single off of their second album.

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220px-WillSmith-BigWillieStyleWill Smith – “Just The Two of Us” – (1997)

This isn’t a direct cover of the Grover Washington Jr./Bill Withers song of the same name, but that song is sampled heavily in the chorus. But Will raps the verses about being a dad to his sons. It reached #20 on the Hot 100 in 1998.

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-ShadesofGraceBob Carlisle – “Butterfly Kisses” – (1997)

I’ve always thought of this song as the female version of “Cat’s in the Cradle.” It’s still about dads, but related to daughters and not sons. Bob Carlisle is a Contemporary Christian singer, but he had a crossover pop hit with this song in the late 1990s. I think a lot of people think it’s sappy, but it has its champions.

220px-mrhankeyschrismasclassicscoverTrey Parker – “Merry Fucking Christmas” – (1999)

Probably one of the most offensive Christmas songs of all time, but then again it is from an album called “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics.” I’ll admit, I don’t watch South Park and haven’t seen an episode in a long time, but I have seen the Mr. Hankey episode. You might not like it, but this song is actually very funny.

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-heart_in_motionAmy Grant – “Baby Baby” – (1991)

Amy Grant’s career has mostly been spent in the Christian music realm but in the early 1990s she released a pop-tinged album, and this (the first single) went to #1 on the Hot 100. And because it was 1991, it naturally knocked Wilson Phillips out of the top spot. Oh, and this song is catchy as hell.

brandy_norwood_-_brandy_albumBrandy – “Baby” – (1994)

Brandy released her first album when she was only 15 and this Grammy-nominated song is probably the highlight of the album, and definitely the one that still gets the most radio airplay. It was a top five hit.

220px-theoffspringamericanaalbumcoverThe Offspring – “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” – (1998)

The second biggest single from Americana, “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” is one of The Offspring’s better offerings. The video is interesting because it was shot on Universal’s backlot in California and features a lot of famous places from film and TV, like the square from Back to the Future

220px-the_phantom_menace_ostJohn Williams & the London Symphony Orchestra and the London Voices – “Duel of the Fates” – (1999)

“Duel of the Fates” is a seriously epic piece of orchestral music. With the choir, it has a very “O Fortuna”-feel to it. Originally featured in Star Wars:Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the piece has been a recurring piece of music throughout every successive piece of Star Wars film. It’s great – and, it actually appeared on TRL for 11 days. 

Mark Jonathan Davis – “Star Wars Cantina” – (1996)

Mark Jonathan Davis is known by the stage name of Richard Cheese, and he recorded this pretty good spoof of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” but all about Star Wars. It was originally aired on Dr. Demento’s radio show but it has never officially been released, thus the lack of an album cover above.

220px-ScorpionsCrazyWorldScorpions – “Wind of Change” – (1990)

It’s the whistling that gets you here and sucks you in. I always forget that the Scorpions are German and I usually forgot about this song. This is from that awful era of the late 1980s and the first few years of the 1990s where hair band ballads were still relevant and black and white music videos were all the rage. Here’s a famous one.

220px-Incubus_ScienceIncubus – “Vitamin” – 1997

Incubus really hit it big in 1999 with “Drive” but before that they were more of a fringe band – even though this, their second album, was certified Gold by the RIAA. This song was never a single, but in the late-90s it was bundled with this album’s biggest single on a video game that got a lot of play around here. Almost 20 years later (holy crap) I still dig it.

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.

Foxworthy_crankupJeff Foxworthy – Redneck 12 Days of Christmas – 1996

Jeff Foxworthy was a comedy sensation in the 1990s. He could’ve put “redneck” on anything and made a boatload of money. One thing I like about this song is that it was written by the late comedian Tim Wilson, who was a really funny guy. This song was so golden that it charted on the Hot Country Singles chart five consecutive Christmases – in the top 40 each year, peaking at #18 the winter of ’95/’96. Pretty impressive.

220px-LisaLoeb_FirecrackerLisa Loeb – I Do – 1997

I like Lisa Loeb. “Stay” is her biggest hit – and a song that has followed my fiance and I everywhere we go, thus it became “our song.” And since we’re getting married tomorrow, I figured this was an appropriate song for today. It was a top 20 hit for Loeb in 1997 and it sounds very 1997.

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. 

220px-DMB_CrashDave Matthews Band – So Much To Say – 1996

This Grammy Award-winning song from Dave Matthews is him bragging about having central heating. Well, not really, but that’s the lyric I always remember. This wasn’t really a Top 40 song – more of the alternative rock side of Dave, peaking in the top 20 on that chart. It was the second single off the album, released prior to “Crash Into Me,” which turned out to be one of this biggest hits.

220px-BluesTravelerfourBlues Traveler – The Mountains Win Again – 1994

This was the third and final single from Four and it was the least successful but it’s still really good. I’m pretty sure Coors used to use it for their advertising. It sounds almost countryish or at least country rockish. Almost like a Bob Seger song from the 1980s (think “Like a Rock”).

Hootie_&_the_Blowfish_Fairweather_Johnson_CD_coverHootie & the Blowfish – “Tucker’s Town” – (1996)

This was Hootie & the Blowfish’s final album single that really garnered any real airplay. When you listen to it, if you don’t remember it specifically, you definitely can recognize the sound as mid-90s pop rock – something that has more or less entirely disappeared from modern radio. It was a top 40 hit, reaching #38 and was one of two radio singles from 1996’s Fairweather Johnson

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.

Bob Rivers – “Police Stop My Car” – (1997)

Okay, last comedy Christmas song, I promise. This really isn’t much of a Christmas song at all, which is okay, since Christmas has passed and in this world, Christmas starts at Halloween and ends at midnight the day after Christmas. Anyway, it’s a pretty good spoof of “Feliz Navidad” – but about DUI checkpoints… which sounds insane if you were trying to tell someone about it… which is why you should just listen to it.

Vanessa Williams & Bobby Caldwell – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – (1996)

From the first Christmas album by Vanessa Williams comes what has to be the “rape-iest” Christmas song ever. Sorry if that’s a little harsh, but the lyrics of this song are pretty creepy: “Say, what’s in this drink?” It’s all about a girl trying to leave and go home and a guy trying to convince her to stay because it’s cold outside. Ulterior motives? Perhaps. If you don’t listen too closely, it’s a really nice song and this is the second-best version that I know of, after Dean Martin’s, of course.

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.

Jeff Foxworthy – “Twas the Night After Christmas” – (1996)

Jeff Foxworthy was one of the most popular comedians of the 1990s. His “You might be a redneck” bit made him a huge star. And in 1996 he released an album called Crank it Up: The Music Album and it contained two Christmas songs. This one is more of a spoken-word song to music. It rhymes… he’s essentially reading the redneck version of the classic Christmas poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Of course, it ends in shooting reindeer for sport, but what did you expect?