20 Songs from the '90s That Time Forgot

by Andrew Doscas

15 July 2015

Rather than dig through the discount CD bin, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Every decade has its slew of songs that, while memorable at the time, are quickly forgotten once the next decade once its new trends and styles come around. For every timeless classic like “Let It Be” or “Stairway to Heaven”, there’s a “More, More, More” or “96 Tears”. For some reason, it just seems like the ‘90s were home to the most memorable songs that time forgot. Here’s a salute to the songs that stop mattering once the calendar flipped to the year 2000, and some that were forgotten much, much sooner.


“Hold On” by Wilson Phillips (1990)

The last remnant of ‘80s pop music, “Hold On” not only topped the charts in 1990, but it was also the highest charting single of 1990. Despite the fact that their album, Wilson Phillips, went to number two on the charts, Wilson Phillips became most known for “Hold On”. It’s been featured in movies like Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Bridesmaids, and Whip It!. Despite their massive success, Wilson Phillips was never able to match the popularity of their debut single. 


“I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls (1990)

In their native Australia, the Divinyl’s “I Touch Myself” knocked off “Ice, Ice, Baby” for the number one spot, where it stayed for exactly one week. The band broke up after their next album, and unfortunately lead singer Chrissy Amphlett passed away in 2013 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Besides a brief return courtesy of Austin Powers, “I Touch Myself” has been left untouched in the halls of music history.


“Baby Baby” by Amy Grant (1991)

Labeled the “Queen of Christian Pop”, Grant was accused of selling out with this crossover hit.


“O.P.P.” by Naughty by Nature (1991)

Truer words, Treach, truer words. Naughty by Nature never became one of those classic hip-hop groups like Run D.M.C. or Public Enemy, but that didn’t stop them from giving us one of the most memorable acronyms of the ‘90s. Sampling the Jackson Five’s “ABC”, “O.P.P.” proved to be one of the catchiest, and most entertaining songs of the ‘90s, until everyone forgot about it a few years later. And, yes, he is holding a rusty machete on the album cover.


“Unbelievable” by EMF (1991)

EMF were pioneers of the rave-rock scene that never took off. Check out the keyboardist in the video: he’s having the time of his life. Bands like EMF and Jesus Jones were supposedly the forerunners of the next big musical fad. Rave-rock combined elements of industrial dance music, rock, and ecstasy… most importantly ecstasy. It never caught on in the U.S., or pretty much anywhere else, and by 1992 rave-rock faded away as quickly as it sprang up. Out of sight, out of mind; or, more appropriately, out of stereo, out of mind.


“Free Your Mind” by En Vogue (1992)

Despite the absurd bombardment of Europop and bubblegum pop, artists still tried to be socially conscious. “Free Your Mind” is probably the hardest rocking song with a social message about the woes of prejudice and discrimination. Taken from the wildly successful LP Funky Divas, “Free Your Mind” isn’t as timeless as “My Lovin’”, but it’s just as energetic and confident. “Free Your Mind” has just as much relevance today as it did back in 1992, when it was supposedly written in response to the race riots in Los Angeles. 


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

The most well-known member of the Eurhythmics, Annie Lennox embarked on a solo career with her 1992 album, appropriately titled Diva. The most popular song off the album, and of her career as a solo artist was “Walking on Broker Glass”, which helped the album sell over two million copies in the U.S. alone. See how long it takes you to notice John Malkovich and a pre-House Hugh Laurie in the music video.


“The River of Dreams” by Billy Joel (1993)

When it comes to Billy Joel, the line in the sand is drawn between ‘70s Joel and ‘80s Joel. People who like one generally tend to loathe the other. However, while these factions are often squabbling about the merits of depressed Joel, one thing that they do agree on is that ‘90s Joel, which only consisted of The River of Dreams, is best left forgotten. I guess Billy was trying to look hip with the flannel he was sporting.


“Fields of Gold” by Sting (1993)

This is the saddest song in the world. Lyrically and thematically, “Fields of Gold” is the successor to Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer”, as it deals with the depressing effects of nostalgia and the omnipotent passing of time. It’s sad, and beautiful, and perfect. It’s a shame that “Desert Rose” has supplanted it as Sting’s most memorable solo song. 


“Informer” by Snow (1993)

The only number one hit single to ever be sung in an indecipherable language. Snow is quite literally the Canadian Vanilla Ice, right down to the perfect Jim Carrey impersonation on the sketch comedy program In Living Colour.

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