Sunday, April 23, 2017

200 ESSENTIAL 90s SONGS: THE TOP 10. The countdown concludes with this post.  
A new countdown will commence later today: 200 ESSENTIAL ROCK ANTHEMS. 
Caffe` Latte` presents…
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Many new sub-genres were launched during the 1990s as hybrids of various styles were fused to create innovative new sounds. Females infiltrated the once misogynistic world of rap as it evolved into hip-hop. New Jack Swing gave way to New Jill Swing. Grunge exploded around the world. The music industry grappled with dwindling sales and the threat of piracy. Here are the 200 songs that mattered most -in terms of lasting impact, influence and enduring quality- in the final decade of the previous millennium.
Dr.DreTheChronic.jpgG thang.jpgFor those already on board the G Funk train, the arrival of Dr Dre's 'The Chronic' album in 1992 was a watershed. This was the hip hop album that defined the genre for years to come. It also served as an introduction to rising musical force Snoop Doggy Dogg. He is featured on "Nuthin' But A G Thang". The track exposed him to a wide audience before he had launched his own solo career.
BACK & FORTH Aaliyah
Backforthaaliyah.jpgAaliyah emerged with her debut album 'Age Ain't Nothing But A Number' in 1994. R. Kelly wrote and produced her material. "Back & Forth" was the first single release. Around the time, controversy began to swell surrounding the significantly older Kelly marrying -in secret- the 15 year old new talent.
As her career progressed, the impact of Aaliyah's recording output and her obvious talent as a performer became the focus. 
Aaliyah only had a few years to make her mark in hip hop and pop music. Tragically, she died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001. A star whose potential was far from fully realized. 
Metallica - Enter Sandman cover.jpgHeavy metal needed a reboot after the hair metal craze of the 1980s. Bands such as Poison and Bon Jovi had scored success with a watered down version of hard rock and metal. Metallica was still serving pure metal during that decade. 
As we settled into the 1990s, the group dropped its eponymous album. Also in 1991, the lead single "Enter Sandman" was unleashed. With this track, Metallica redefined the direction and sound of metal/ hard rock. Its influence persists to the present day.
Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory album cover.jpgDontlookbackinanger.jpgOasis led the charge for Britpop during the 1990s. In 1995, the band's 2nd studio album '(What's The Story) Morning Glory' built on the groundwork of debut 'Definitely Maybe'.
Noel Gallagher's songs fused feel-good Beatlesque references with indie rock attitude. "Don't Look Back In Anger" reached #1 on the British chart.
Green Day - When I Come Around cover.jpgAmerican punk group Green Day gradually built itself an impressive string of pop / rock hits that afforded it a lasting credibility. 
"When I Come Around" served as a rallying call for youths in the wake of grunge. Parent album 'Dookie' was issued in 1994. Green Day brought 90s punk into the mainstream. This was largely due to the evolving talent of lyricist and lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong.
R.E.M. - Losing My Religion.jpg"Losing My Religion" is one of the exquisite aural delights of 90s music. R.E.M. crafted a classic. Michael Stipe's lyrics remain as intriguing today as they did when the song was released in 1991. It can be open to varied interpretations. Sonically, the band constructed a track of great beauty. 
Image result for rem losing my religion videoWith this single, the group expanded its profile and solidified its place among the best in rock music. 
The track was featured on the 'Out Of Time' album. Its huge sales owes much to the quality of the Grammy Award winning "Losing My Religion".
Paranoid Android CD1.jpgRadiohead revealed the new musical soundscape it was exploring with "Paranoid Android". It served as the lead single for the groundbreaking album 'OK Computer'. 
Image result for Radiohead OK Computer YearsThe British group created a hybrid of art rock, electronica and indie / alternative rock that was a game-changer.
'OK Computer' expanded the band's fanbase, satisfying critics and consumers alike. Its adventurous moods and sound still has resonance on today's music. 
California Love (1995), by Tupac Shakur.png2Pac was released from incarceration in 1995. He signed with key hip hop label Death Row. The rapper set out to re-establish his place among the leading rappers. He succeeded with the album 'All Eyez On Me'. 
Alleyezonme.jpgLead single "California Love" was unleashed in December. It featured Dr Dre and Roger Troutman. The album followed in early 1996. It swiftly announced 2Pac's comeback and re-positioned him as an unrivalled force in gangsta rap.  
"California Love" reached #1 on the US Pop, R&B and Rap charts. It also peaked in the Top 10 in the U.K., Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Less than a year later, 2Pac was murdered. His legacy continues decades later, but the world will never know the full extent of his potential.
Eminem - The Slim Shady LP CD cover.jpgAt the dawn of the 1990s when rap was struggling to gain a foothold in mainstream pop, the idea of a white rapper dominating hip hop with sustained credibility was ludicrous. Vanilla Ice proved the point when his massive sales petered out soon after "Ice Ice Baby". Next, Snow failed to maintain momentum following his hit "Informer". 
Eminem's major label debut album 'The Slim Shady LP' hit the market in February 1999. This release changed everything. 
Eminem - My Name Is... CD cover.jpgBorn Marshall Mathers in Kansas, he spent his formative teen years in Detroit. Starting as young as 14, the boy began to rap, under the moniker M&M before adopting the name Eminem. After a stint as a member of D-12, he underwent several setbacks including suicide attempts, drug abuse and a bitter spilt with his girlfriend. This helped Eminem develop his alter ego Slim Shady. 
His career was on track when he was offered a contract with Interscope. With Dr Dre at the helm, the mainstream debut album was readied for release.
Eminem attracted attention, eliciting both praise and harsh derision.
Image result for eminem 1999
Single "What's My Name" targeted women, his mother, the Spice Girls and teachers among other subjects. Explicit language and misogynistic themes aside, it would be wrong to allow this to distract from Eminem's talent. Yes, his lyrics can be offensive. It is equally true that Eminem has done more to expand the audience for rap than anyone. His skill as an MC is undisputed. The narrative within his songs remain a benchmark for hip hop. 
Nirvana had released an album prior to 'Nevermind'. Issued in 1989, 'Bleach' hinted at the Seattle band's potential. The follow-up album, issued 2 years later, was a line in the sand for 90s music. 
Image result for Nirvana Smells Like Teen
Led by its 1st single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the 'Nevermind' album catapulted grunge into popular culture. Like a siren's song, punters were attracted to the call of Nirvana's signature track. Instantaneously, it grew into an anthem that defined the decade. 
Image result for Nirvana Black and White
On paper, the lyrics seem random and the intent is unclear. Play the track at full volume, and everything appears to be in its appropriate place and flows seamlessly. The genius of lead singer and songwriter Kurt Cobain powers the potent track. He is ably supported by bandmates Dave Grohl and Kris Novoselic. No other song represents the 1990s better than "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
  Sadly, on April 5, 1994, Cobain fatally shot himself. He has been an iconic figure since that tragic day.
Smells Like Teen Spirit.jpg

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