Lately, I have found myself listening to the ’90s station on my streaming services, and I just can’t get enough of it. The songs that are new today are ok — some are catchy, others seem well-produced. But nothing really compares to the hits that were popular two decades ago. Everything from R&B to rap to ballads happened to make it to the top of the charts over and over again. But most importantly, once they got in your head, there was NO getting them out.
Prepare for your day to be ruined (or made completely awesome), because once you read this list, you’ll be singing these songs on loop until you go to bed tonight.
10. Macarena — Los Del Río, 1993
Sorry. Now you’re trying to remember how the hand motions to the song go, right? The amazing thing about this tune is that no one really knows the words — but that doesn’t stop any of us from singing it. What you don’t know, you just make up with a bunch of gibberish. “A baso guip para greea MACARENA hosa pel pala gra bama feeya hosafena.” That’s basically what goes through my head every time I sing it. You know you do it too.
9. MMMbop — Hanson, 1997
I’m not sure anyone actually loved this song, but it’s certainly one that we all love to hate. And we hate it even more because it sticks in our heads like gum. It gets all tangled up and before you know it, you’re mmmbopping in the shower, and on your drive to work, and under your breath during meetings. It’s pretty awful, in a way that only a ’90s song can be. Whatever happened to those Hanson brothers anyway?
8. …Baby One More Time — Britney Spears, 1998
Maybe this one launched Britney’s career because it’s just so damned catchy. It’s not her best, but it sure does linger, doesn’t it? Suddenly, even grown men are making pouty faces as they sing “oh baby baby…”
7. The Sign — Ace of Base, 1993
The video for this is so very not good, but that didn’t keep the song from becoming wildly popular and catchy. Once you start “I saw the sign” you pretty much can’t stop until you run out of the lyrics that you know.
6. Baby Got Back — Sir Mix-a-Lot, 1992
“Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt…” And we’re off to the races. This song didn’t just make big butts ok, it celebrated them in a way that had never been done before. And can we discuss the genius of the line “LA face with an Oakland booty”??
5. Ice Ice Baby — Vanilla Ice, 1990
This is one that we all know (most of) the lyrics to, and somehow nearly 30 (!!!) years after it was released, we’re all able to dig deep into the trenches of our memory and rap along with Ice like we’re in his posse. I dare you to sing any part of this and not make outrageous gestures with your hands in the process. The boy I had a crush on in the early ’90s had a Vanilla Ice haircut, so this one will always be particularly close to my heart.
4. Nothing Compares 2 U — Sinéad O’Connor, 1990
Oh Sinéad. We love this song so so so much. And who can forget that one tear streaming down your face in the video? This is another one that makes anyone who sings it think that they’re the best singer in the world. It takes an amazing song to do that, doesn’t it? Because nooooooothing compares — no-thing compares — to yoooooooooou.
3. My Heart Will Go On — Celine Dion, 1997
You can’t think of this song without also thinking about Titanic, obviously. This is another song that I absolutely love to hate. I really can’t stand it, but once it’s in my head, it’s there for DAYS. I’m just grateful it’s not played on the radio over and over again like it was in 1997, because I would never get anything done.
2. U Can’t Touch This — MC Hammer, 1990
Just the thought of this song can send someone shuffling back and forth across the floor, doing the Hammer dance like a champ. It is still on my running playlist to this day because it has the best beat and just makes you feel gooood. And somehow those big, baggy pants made sense, didn’t they?
1. I Will Always Love You — Whitney Houston, 1992
You know we had to go there. “And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII…..” You know the rest. When The Bodyguard came out, there was no escaping this song. And every time anyone sings it, they don’t hold back and belt it out in the hopes that they are conjuring some of Whitney’s genius. It’s ok — we all do it.