Dubai: I am a 90s baby. But I will admit that the 90s decade didn’t have the best popular music. The 1990s mainly consisted of teen pop and dance-pop anthems, a trend that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s.
Like… think about it… The 90s top hits weren’t exactly musical master pieces. One of the top songs of the 90s was the “Macarena” by Los Del Rio. It became a worldwide success, which honestly is impressive as heck. I have to hand it to the Spanish duo. However, to my dismay, I still hear this song at weddings and clubs. To. This. day. In 2019. I have to say that the 90s were my least favourite decade. Even though Bryan Adams wooed and Whitney Houston wailed like no one else could, there was a bit too much of a superficial pop vibe for my taste. Examples include ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ by Britney Spears and ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls.
On the other more positive hand though the 90s is generally called the Golden Era of Rap. Rap music started to pick up mainstream popularity in the 90s. ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ by Coolio, for example was the number one song in 1995, and still played at clubs and parties today.
Here are the top songs of the 90s according to the American Billboard Music 40 list.
1990: “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
1991: “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams
1992: “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men
1993: “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
1994: “The Sign” by Ace of Base
1995: “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio
1996: “Macarena” (Bayside Boys Mix) by Los Del Rio
1997: “Candle in the Wind 1997” by Elton John
1998: “Too Close” by Next
1999: “Believe” by Cher
The 80s on the other hand were full of musical gems. I think growing up, I never gave the 80s a chance, until I stumbled upon an 80s club here in Dubai and realized how great the music was from that era. Digital recording started becoming more available in the 80s, so you start to hear more synthetic sounds and music with fast beats that really gets you moving. The 1980s saw an emergence of dance music, in addition to the ever-popular Rock music continuing from the 70s to enjoy a wide audience.
Although it’s very easy to make fun of the 80s for their crazy fashion, hair, make up and just the way they talked “gnarly”, “No duh”, “totally” and “tubular” to name a few. Once must never overlook the musical gifts that the 80s gave us. While the 90s gave us rap, the 80s gave us a golden era in rock and pop.
Top songs of the 80s decade:
1980: “Call Me” by Blondie
1981: “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes
1982: “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
1983: “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
1984: “When Doves Cry” by Prince
1985: “Careless Whisper” by Wham!
1986: “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends
1987: “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles
1988: “Faith” by George Michael
1989: “Look Away” by Chicago
The 70s are most music aficionado’s favourite decade. I mean… hello! Queen, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Kiss Abba… that list can go on for ages! The 70s were a bit of an afterthought for me personally, but after delving in, I realized that this decade influences almost everything we do today. Bohemian Rhapsody is still one of the most relevant and popular songs in the 2020 era, and why shouldn’t it be? It is a masterpiece. There was never a dull moment in the 70s. The longhaired rock stars, the tight, brightly coloured trousers and the high pitched singing.
British music critic David Hepworth argues that the early 70s “saw the release of more influential albums than any year before or since.” Led Zeppelin’s IV, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Carole King’s Tapestry, Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate, and Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality are just a few songs on that list.
Top songs of the 70s decade:
1970: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel
1971: “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
1972: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
1973: “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn
1974: “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand
1975: “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille
1976: “Silly Love Songs” by Wings
1977: “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" by Rod Stewart
1978: “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb
1979: “My Sharona” by Knack
Hardcore music lovers will argue that the 60s were the best decade in musical history. It was in the early 60s when rock music was in its purest forms. As the decade neared its end, the pure rock was muddled with psychedelic rock, blues-rock, and folk rock, which had grown in popularity as the decade progressed.
John Lennon was once quoted saying “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn't the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” The music industry really started to properly form, at that time. There was less segregation determining who could sing what. The sixties was a time of excitement in the music scene. The lyrics started becoming more experimental and expressive. Songs were more thought provoking, and tackled social issues, rather than just asking how much a doggie in the window was. And artists like The Beatles helped many see through the tough times.
Top songs of the 60s decade:
1960: “Theme from ‘A Summer Place’” by Percy Faith
1961: “Tossin’ and Turnin’” by Bobby Lewis
1962: “Stranger on the Shore” by Mr. Acker Bilk
1963: “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs
1964: “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles
1965: “Wooly Bully” by Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs
1966: “The Ballad of the Green Berets” by Sgt. Berry Sadler
1967: “To Sir With Love” by Lulu
1968: “Hey Jude” by The Beatles
1969: “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies