The future of music

75 Best 90s Songs (Greatest 1990s Hits)

June 8, 2023
best 90s songs

The 90s was one of the best decades for when it came to showing off different styles of music.

The radios weren’t just playing the latest and safest hits but rather they played anything that would get people excited.

Here are some of the best examples of some of the biggest and best songs that made the 90s one of the best decades in music history.

Enjoy our best 90s songs playlist!

Table of Contents

1. “Big Pimpin’” by Jay-Z ft. UGK

The path that Jay-Z took from being a rapper into a complete game changer in the music industry will eventually be studied in schools and it’ll start right here in the 90s.

Other 90s hits had nothing on how catchy and quotable this song was and always will be.

2. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor

When it comes to emotional gravity, no one could do it quite like Sinead could.

The way she sings is so controlled and gorgeous, you can’t help but be entranced.

The 90s were fruitful when it came to iconic vocal work and Sinead is just one of many amazing vocalists you’ll find throughout the decade.

3. “Everlong” by Foo Fighters

After working with Nirvana, Dave Grohl decided to start his own band and what this band would make would be listened to for years and years to come.

Being one of rock music’s most respectful bands, Foo Fighters’ legacy was just beginning and what a strong beginning it was.

4. “C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan

Wu-Tang Clan over the past several years has been seen more as a brand rather than a group but trust me, in the 90s this group of talent ruled the hip hop conversation.

Responsible for such hits as “C.R.E.A.M.,” this group would bring hip hop into the forefront of what would be an upward trajectory.

If you like Wu-Tang Clan, you may enjoy our list of the best 90s hip hop songs.

5. “Heaven Or Las Vegas” by Cocteau Twins

Make no mistake – this song wasn’t made in the 80s.

With the 90s finding a lot of artists at the height of their career, Cocteau Twins would actually find this to be one of their final moments in the spotlight and what a way to go.

And that shining instrumental?

To die for.

6. “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal

A song so timeless that so many people forget that this song came out in the 90s and wasn’t just put onto this world from the beginning of time.

Seal’s voice is just so powerful, it’s astounding.

7. “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails

The 90s were one of the final decades in pop music history that had a real sense of darkness and creepiness to some of its biggest hits.

Nine Inch Nails is here to deliver one of the best songs that shows why 90s music was so diverse.

8. “You Got Me (ft. Erykah Badu & Eve)” by The Roots

The Roots’ legacy will forever be written in stones but let’s not forget the song that brought them some of the biggest praise of their career.

While working with two of the biggest names at the time, the group hits us with introspection as well as a strong groove.

9. “Zombie” by The Cranberries

This song has transcended just being a hit song from the 90s.

This song is nothing short of a powerful display of what real conveys of emotions can create.

What the band has done here isn’t something to be taken lightly and they’ve been celebrated a lot for it.

10. “Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure

While the 80s were such a prominent time for The Cure, the 90s wasn’t something that the band missed out on.

In fact, it would be here where their biggest hit to date “Friday I’m in Love” would find itself being released and to critical praise!

The 90s may have wanted to move on and be its own thing but The Cure wasn’t ready to leave just yet.

11. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill

There’s always been a debate whether Lauryn Hill is a hip hop artist or an R&B artist, but has anyone considered that none of that matters and that her music is just good as it is?

Little thought for you to ponder over.

12. “Groove Is In The Heart” by Deee-Lite

If you feel like this song sounds familiar, you’ve probably heard some parts of this song as different sample origins.

Sampling multiple songs across multiple genres, this song shows what 90s music was all about: innovation.

13. “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley

No matter what the occasion is, if you play this song the mood is gone and replaced with sorrow.

What this song means to people is so unfathomable, their hearts feeling so warm and cold all at once.

Only a song as terrific as this could make such a feeling be so powerful.

14. “Ocean Man” by Ween

Whether you’re looking back on their impact as one of rock’s most experimental bands or you’re looking back on their impact on The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, Ween’s “Ocean Man” is nothing less than a masterpiece in how to make a song that anyone in the world can enjoy.

15. “Doomsday (ft. Pebbles the Invisible Girl)” by MF DOOM

After the tragic tale of DOOM’s group KMD, he would find himself creating a new persona, one that would be seen as the villain of hip hop.

While he did play himself up as a villain, he was really just misunderstood.

Listen to his biggest hit right here and find out for yourself how his character stirred the masses.

16. “No Ordinary Love” by Sade

A great example as to how mystical and wondrous R&B can be.

Sade wasn’t just an artist, she was the blueprint on how to make a song that’s transcendental and familiar all at once.

17. “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” by Deftones

Nu Metal would eventually become one of the most celebrated genres of the next decade, but until then we can thank Deftones for bringing a great early start to the genre.

Rock fans really had it the best during the 90s.

18. “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” by Celia Cruz

For anyone that’s looking for just one salsa song that encapsulates everything amazing about the genre, this song is a great pick!

It may be one of the most popular in the genre but that doesn’t make it any less meaningful and hip-swiveling.

19. “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears

Britney’s entire aesthetic and style is one that would be copied for ages and yet no one could do it just like she could.

They way her minds works is fascinating, from what she picks to sing on to the way she sings is incredible.

20. “The World Is Yours” by Nas

One of hip hop’s greatest voices and lyricists, Nas puts it all out there on “The World is Yours.”

With such an amazing instrumental and flow from start to finish, this song can compete against any hip hop song that anyone can name.

21. “Buddy Holly” by Weezer

If you thought this band was a cast of characters now, take a look at their music from the 90s.

Easily their best and most successful decade to date, Weezer pushed what it meant to have personality in your music.

Where would rock music as a whole have been had it not been for these four?

22. “Around The World” by Daft Punk

Two French producers really didn’t have to go as hard as they did making this song.

It’s almost sad, really.

How are other electronic songs supposed to compete against this.

The only ones that can even come close…are also made by Daft Punk.

23. “Gin And Juice” by Snoop Dogg

With g-funk making its way higher and higher up the charts thanks to people like Dr. Dre, it only makes sense that Snoop Dogg’s contribution to the genre would be monumental.

What Snoop achieved here is not something so feasible, he ran this side of hip hop and no one was around to compete against him.

24. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day

The impact this song and the rest of Green Day’s early music had on the 90s is immeasurable.

There may be some debate on the quality of this band, but during their run in the 90s they were on top of the world.

25. “Paper Bag” by Fiona Apple

One of music’s greatest songwriters, Fiona was more than just a musician: she was a storyteller and anyone who heard her stories knew that she was someone to look out for.

No one could do it like her and no one has come close.

26. “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill

The riot grrrl scene and punk music as a whole would not be where it is right now had it not been for groups like Bikini Kill.

The way this band mixes punk aesthetics into their music is unlike anything anyone had seen before and they proved why they deserved to have the spotlight.

27. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

A true display of what it means to really be a vocalist.

Whitney was not someone who’s music was hard to digest, but the music was also never derivative.

What she was doing during her career was always exactly what everyone needed.

28. “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba

Chumbawamba’s brand was a lot less inviting than your average musician’s, but that didn’t stop them from having a hit so big it would trump all over one hit wonders to smithereens.

29. “Shook Ones, Pt. II” by Mobb Deep

Prodigy and Havoc together make up Mobb Deep, one of the 90s’ most under-appreciated groups.

While they may not be as talked about as some other hip hop groups from back in the day, their style and talent reigns high.

30. “Creep” by Radiohead

It’s hilarious that Radiohead’s biggest song is not the greatest representation of them as a band.

While this song may not fully showcase what makes the band such a remarkable group, it sure works really well as a piece of 90s music history.

31. “No Scrubs” by TLC

R&B would make such amazing strides in the 90s and there was no one like TLC to be at the forefront of what made the genre as iconic as it was.

32. “Alive” by Pearl Jam

There’s not a rock fan in the 90s that wasn’t listening to this masterpiece.

Music’s trajectory throughout the decade was only going up and in the middle of it all, “Alive” found the sweet spot that wasn’t too unfamiliar while also sounding super fresh.

33. “Between the Bars” by Elliott Smith

There’s music from the 90s that feel very 90s and then there are songs from the 90s that sound timeless.

Between the Bars” is a song only the greatest songwriters could hope to write, with its subtle delivery and tear inducing guitars.

Elliott Smith’s work will forever be documented for how important it was.

34. “My Name Is” by Eminem

Being a white guy in rap wasn’t the most popular and successful route to take but Eminem proved that even he can contribute so much to the genre.

What he achieved in the 90s is quite the story and one that really shows how versatile and open the hip hop community can be.

35. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

One of the greatest metal songs to hit it big, Metallica put their blood, sweat and tears into creating a song more massive than previously imagined.

Ask anyone to name a metal song from the 90s or from any era really and this song will more likely than not come up.

36. “Brooklyn Zoo” by Ol’ Dirty Bastard

One of the more influential rappers when it came to his outstanding and unique personality, Wu-Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard was a master at his craft.

Rappers throughout the 90s may not have been trying to make songs like “Brooklyn Zoo,” but the influence he would have on the future generations is so explicit.

37. “Amor Prohibido” by Selena

A beautiful soul lost way too soon, Selena was more than just a prominent figure in Mexico.

Her music would touch the hearts of everybody all around the world.

Ask anyone familiar with Spanish music and they’ll gush over this song all day.

38. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

The 90s would forever be changed by bands like Nirvana and this song embodies everything that made the band as monumental and groundbreaking as they were.

The instrumental and Kurt Cobain’s one of a kind vocals mix together into what would be a song that would really define the 90s.

39. “army of me” by björk

One of music’s craziest and most inventive musicians, Björk’s run of the 90s will be looked back as one of the most consistent and quality runs of all time.

It’s hard to pin down what song best represents what she did to the music world around this time but “Army of Me” is the closest one can get to showing how she presented herself.

It’s beautiful, really.

40. “Waiting For Tonight” by Jennifer Lopez

Is anyone else surprised that this song actually came from Jennifer Lopez?

Jennifer’s impact on the early rise to popularity of the house genre is not to go unrecognized, as songs like this would be her way of bringing out the full capability that the genre has.

41. “Linger” by The Cranberries

While this wasn’t their biggest hit, some may say that it’s impact was far greater than anything anyone would’ve released during the 90s.

Most 90s hits have the unfortunate truth that they weren’t written by The Cranberries and they are all worse because of it.

42. “Glory Box” by Portishead

Glory Box” was just one of the forces needed to bring trip hop to the masses.

The state of the genre was almost nonexistent until the band came along and their sounds would influence bands like Massive Attack and Gorillaz.

Where would we be if we didn’t have bands like them?

43. “Californication” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The 90s music scene would not be the same if it wasn’t for this song.

The rise of feel good alt rock is so quintessential to what made the 90s one of the best decades for music.

44. “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” by Digable Planets

Representation has always mattered in the hip hop community and these three were great at representing an underappreciated group of the genre: the nerd community.

Where people had their hardcore rappers, the others had Digable Planets to show them how open the hip hop community is.

45. “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode

Enjoy the Silence” is more than just a song.

It’s the soundtrack for anyone who’s felt like they don’t fit anywhere.

Sure, you have your fans of Nirvana and other counterculture bands but if you were really in the crowd that didn’t feel included, this was the song for you.

46. “No Diggity (ft. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen)” by Blackstreet

When the boy band craze was at its peak, we can always count on Blackstreet to provide us with something so fun and full of style.

The way this group performed was why they were one of the 90s best male groups.

47. “Holland, 1945” by Neutral Milk Hotel

Where would indie rock as a whole be without this song?

It’s not often that you’ll find conceptual indie rock albums from the 90s where the messages are much bigger of a rabbit hole than you may believe, but here we are!

Thanks to bands like this, indie rock would shoot up in popularity and relevance throughout its history.

48. “ATLiens” by OutKast

OutKast were exactly what they called themselves: outcasts.

The hip hop world wasn’t ready for them at the time but when you look back on it, they were saying so much that no one would dare even attempt to put into their material

ATLiens” showed OutKast at their peak performance, showing off their charisma and their knack for lyricism.

49. “Miss Modular” by Stereolab

If there was one word to describe this song it would be graceful.

This song is so delicate, almost like it’s floating in the air.

One of the best pop songs from one of the 90s biggest bands from outside the states.

50. “Freak On a Leash” by Korn

It’s thanks to acts like Korn that the harsher side of rock and metal would become popularized and celebrated throughout the 90s.

Freak On a Leash” is probably the best example of nu metal’s potential and what bands like this would strive to achieve.

51. “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.

A song that feels so comforting to listen to, you’ll forget you had it on!

R.E.M. are more than just a band, they are what made the 90s as enjoyable as they were.

52. “Never Meant” by American Football

While you may not hear their name as much as some others, for anyone who’s a fan of American Football they are more than just casual fans.

Never Meant” may be most iconic for its intro but don’t let that fool you into thinking the rest of the song is not as quality.

For anyone who needs that sweet 90s indie rock feel, look no further.

53. “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)” by Scatman John

More than just a novelty song, what Scatman John did here has more history than anyone could have imagined.

Eurodance was always just seen as some silly genre but when there’s actually compelling moments like with this song, it needs to be expressed to the masses.

54. “Can I Kick It?” by A Tribe Called Quest

Not just one of the group’s biggest songs to date, but also one of their most beautiful.

A Tribe Called Quest is more than just a hip hop group – they are the reason why hip hop is as popular and as respected as it is.

Who else but them could create such pristine music?

55. “Sugar” by System Of A Down

Only a band like System of a Down can make foreign politics and societal anti propaganda so damn hardcore.

Who else could do what they’re doing, bringing politics into their music in ways that’s informative as well as sonically pleasing?

Nobody, that’s who.

56. “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang (ft. Snoop Dogg)” by Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre’s presence in the 90s was essential for the growth of hip hop.

Even just from his work with Snoop Dogg, Dre during the 90s was important for the movement and it’s songs like this that proved how much talent he had.

57. “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia

The most 2000s song of the 90s, it’s crazy to hear this and believe it came out when it did.

Pristine from start to finish, this song really showcases how much talent the 90s had.

58. “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” by Missy Elliott

Character and personality was starting to play a huge role in what makes musicians stand out from the rest and Missy was nothing but full of charisma and talent.

There’s a reason why she’s one of the best to do it.

59. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion

If there was only one thing you can take from the tragedy that was the fall of the Titanic, it’s that we got this pretty amazing song out of it.

Celine Dion held back no punches with this song, what she did here would be played for generations to come and will continue to do so for the rest of time.

60. “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy

The raw intensity of this song should be reason enough why The Prodigy was such a necessary asset to the hardcore electronic scene.

What this group brought to the table would change how people would view electronic music and its capabilities for years to come.

61. “The Sign” by Ace of Base

A fun song for anyone looking for a good time.

Ace of Base was always good at making easy going music that always put enjoyment and playability before anything else.

62. “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G.

Crowned as one of the kings of hip hop, B.I.G. is responsible for some of hip hop’s most essential material.

There’s no argument to be made – this man is one of the greatest to ever do it!

63. “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt

No Doubt’s crown jewel, “Don’t Speak” was not something that anyone could get away from and it wasn’t one that people were aching to get rid of either way.

Gwen Stefani and company were hit makers during the 90s and there isn’t anything that could even come close to the output they had.

64. “What Is Love” by Haddaway

What was 90s music if it wasn’t upbeat and full of dance?

Thanks to musicians like Haddaway, house music would thrive and kill it during the decade, making it one of the most prominent genres of the decade and making this song one of the 90s’ greatest hits.

65. “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” by Megadeth

Thrash metal may not be as hot as it was, but with acts like Megadeth there was a huge demand for the sound of intense riffs and drumwork during the 90s.

Here’s to hoping that metal can one day reach the mainstream once more!

66. “1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins

What a beautiful tune.

What Smashing Pumpkins does here is so simple yet so impactful that I can’t think of any other band who could pull this sound off.

Indie rock was killing it this decade and it’s acts like this that proved why it was as strong as it was.

67. “Rosa Parks” by OutKast

It is undeniable that OutKast had such a consistent vibe to their material.

The 90s hip hop scene was theirs to rule and with songs like “Rosa Parks” no one could deny that these two had talent.

68. “Bulls On Parade” by Rage Against The Machine

Zack de la Rocha and company are some of rock’s most ambitious and political bands not just of the 90s but of all time.

What this band achieves, with its bombastic guitar work and vocals, is more than any other rock band could imagine to come close to.

69. “Brown Sugar” by D’Angelo

D’Angelo is not as huge as some may believe and his discography surely isn’t that substantial as well, but what he’s released is just as impactful as any major and charted artist.

From his lyric writing chops to the way he creates melody’s, the way he works is so forward thinking that people for years would copy him hoping to get even a glimpse of his potential.

70. “California Love (ft. Dr. Dre)” by 2Pac

Tupac is remembered for being one of the best at what he does best: making music for the masses while releasing a message.

The 90s was his decade to shine, and yet all these years later his legacy continues to shine to this day.

71. “Goodbye Earl” by The Chicks

The Chicks are really a standout in the country music genre, making one of the most eventful and important songs in the genre.

Who else but these three could create something so action packed in its storyline?

72. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Fugees

Lauryn Hill’s impact on the 90s is incredibly visible and it’s her work with Fugees that brought her talents to a whole new level.

What Fugees would achieve would increase hip hop’s notoriety and sky rocket the genre into new heights previously unimaginable.

73. “Karma Police” by Radiohead

While “Creep” may not be a great example of what Radiohead could be like at their peak, “Karma Police” is more than just an example of the potential, it’s the potential being taken advantage of at its fullest.

No one in the 90s could even fathom what they were doing and the band would only continue to innovate throughout the span of their career.

74. “Jump Around” by House of Pain

Name one other hip hop song that got everyone jumping around as much as this song did.

While short lived, House of Pain’s impact on the state of hip hop during the 90s will not go unnoticed.

75. “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison

Mark Morrison may only have one major hit, but that hit is enough to have his name live on in infamy.

Return of the Mack” is more than just a great song, it’s a song that’s perfect from head to toe.

What was possibly going on in his head to create this masterpiece?

Best 90s Songs – Final Thoughts

Every decade has its highs and lows, it’s just extremely unfair that, when you really analyze it, the 90s’ highs were much much higher than some other decades.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best 90s songs.

Similar Playlists:

90s Rock Songs

90s Country Songs

90s Karaoke Songs

90s Love Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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