Hopefully, you’ve returned to day with the promise of some good music from 1991. Not one to disappoint, that’s what we’re here to do.
We’ll start out with a group of songs that just missed out on a spot in the top 10. There was quite a log jam of scores just outside the top 10, further proving what I said before that 1991 was an odd year of a lot of decent:
– Wilson Philips – You’re in Love – I put it to you that this is a better track than their more well known “Hold On”.
– Bonnie Raitt – Something To Talk About – A classic bluesy rock track, Raitt’s voice is so smooth, its the butter on top of this song.
– Sting – All This Time – A reflection on the passing of his farther, this track is quite upbeat given the subject and is driven by a solid Hammond organ piece.
– Roxette – Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave) – Great guitarwork in the background of a powerhouse piece of pop.
– Extreme – Hole Hearted – Great piece of acoustic rock, punctuated with vocal and instrumental harmonies.
And after all those we are finally into the countdown.
10. Oleta Adams – Get Here – Year-end: #80, Peak: #5
A cover of a 1988 Brenda Russell tune, Adams’ voice is featured front and center on this quiet storm classic. In fact, the instrumentals wrap around and push her voice to the front of the track.
9. R.E.M. – Losing My Religion – Year-end: #33, Peak: #4
If “The One I Love” is the single that announced R.E.M. to the US mainstream, “Losing My Religion” is the song that solidified their position on the musical landscape. This track helped bring the college rock scene of the late 80’s to the pop sensibilities of the 90’s, something we’d see come full circle several years later.
8. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince – Summertime – Year-end: #38, Peak: #4
The quintessential summer party jam. In fact, since we’ve just wrapped up summer, go ahead and play it one more time. The song itself has a warming effect and it’s guaranteed to evoke the smells of the grill and the sounds of backyard heaven.
7. Rick Astley – Cry For Help – Year-end: #70, Peak: #7
Another ballad that I didn’t know I knew until I started listening to this list. This is quiet a departure from the 80’s dance pop hits that Astley is more known for, it’s a muted, emotive song that almost doesn’t sound like Astley’s distinctive tones.
6. Queensryche – Silent Lucidity – Year-end: #82, Peak: #9
A classic, and yet, underrated power ballad which is far more orchestral than its contemporaries.
5. Prince and the New Power Generation – Cream – Year-End: #66, Peak: #1
Oddly enough, this is the only song in the top ten to have hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is one of Prince’s raunchier singles and one of his more experimental to have hit the charts. I love the guitar line that mimics a sitar on top of the hi-hat driven beat.
4. Salt-N-Pepa – Do You Want Me – Year-end: #98, Peak: #21
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” from the female’s perspective.
3. Chris Issak – Wicked Game – Year-end: #79, Peak: #6
An iconic guitar riff with some iconic vocals and, thought it doesn’t make the song any better, an iconic video.
2. Boyz II Men – Motownphilly – Year-end: #11, Peak: #3
This is simply one of the best new jack swing tracks ever made. As the lead single off CooleyHighHarmony, this song introduced the Boyz II Men sound to the world and what a way to kick it off. There’s so much happening in this song and it all has this smooth flow that makes this the prefect track to groove to.
The Best Hit Song of 1991 – George Michael – Freedom ’90 – Year-end: #95, Peak: #8
You have to love a top ten song that is essentially a giant middle finger to the music industry. There are so many things happening in this song that blend together to a perfect power pop song. You’ve got that piano lick, the slightly Caribbean feel to the drums and the thundering gospel chorus. It’s a tremendous piece of songwriting and production.
So that’s the list, did I miss any songs that deserved to be here? Anything that was much worse than I gave it credit for? Let me know in the comments section.
Stay tuned for a much quicker turnaround as we step back a few years and look at what was great and what was terrible on the year-end charts of 1989.