The early nineties was a transitional period for music, and there was a lot of good music from 1991. The hair bands and bubblegum pop began to fade, soon replaced by grunge, alternative rock, and a new wave of hip hop. The artists who had been popular throughout the previous decade had to reinvent their image to continue their success. As a result, there is a lot of variety found in the music of the time. Here are the best songs from 1991.
1. “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams
Many weddings and romantic gatherings include this power ballad. Bryan Adams wrote it when he was asked to create a song to accompany the film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” The movie was a hit that summer, and the song topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Two music videos were filmed for this song. The original had Adams singing the song in a forest while scenes from the film were shown. A second was footage of a live performance intended to continue being played after the film's success died down.
2. “Baby Baby” by Amy Grant
When Amy Grant released “Baby Baby” as a single on her “Heart In Motion” album, she was known as a contemporary Christian artist. She was the first Christian singer to have a number-one single in the United States. While she received some controversy in her switchover to contemporary music, the increase in her audience was staggering.
3. “More Than Words” by Extreme
Extreme released “More Than Words” as the third single from their “Pornograffitti” album in 1991. Mostly known for heavy metal with a funky sound, they created this song as a departure to display their versatility.
The music video for the song is one of the most iconic ever filmed. Shot in black and white, it takes place in a recording studio with little else. There are no effects, story, plot, or live concert shots.
4. “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Today Mark Wahlberg is an Academy Award-nominated actor who starred in “Boogie Nights” and “The Departed.” In 1991 he was a hip-hop artist and frontman for this band that infused swing and rock into rap. “Good Vibrations” was a single from their debut album titled “Music for the People” that featured classic disco singer Loleatta Holloway.
5. “Coming Out of the Dark” by Gloria Estefan
An 18-wheeler hit Gloria Estefan's tour bus early in her career, nearly killing her. After she recovered from her injuries in 1991, she was ready to release her second album, “Into the Light.” She wrote this song as a celebration of her survival. It hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and was also a hit in countries like Japan, Spain, and Canada.
6. “Losing My Religion” by R.E.M.
R.E.M. was one of the first bands in the wave of alternative rock that grew throughout the nineties. Released on their “Out of Time” album, it departed from what they had made on earlier albums. MTV and VH1 played the music video a lot, helping give the song exposure and ultimately leading to the band winning two Grammys.
7. “Where Does My Heart Beat Now” by Celine Dion
Celine Dion has a special sound that is unmatched by many other artists. Her dynamic vocals are unique and made her famous in Canada, where she mostly recorded in French. Her album, titled “Unison,” was the first she did in English. It took her to the top ten on the charts and earned her an award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
8. “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” by Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton is a singer with a unique voice, mostly known for singing romantic ballads and standards. He has an impressive list of singles, such as this one released on his 1991 album “Time, Love & Tenderness.” Some controversy surrounded this title when The Isley Brothers claimed it was a remake of a song they recorded in 1964. They won their case and were paid $4 million from Sony Music.
9. “Something to Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt
Anne Murray was originally set to record this song in the mid-eighties. She even named her album after it. Her producers talked her out of it, clearing the way for Bonnie Raitt to release it on her “Luck of the Draw” album. The US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart listed it as number 5. It was also a hit in Canada and New Zealand.
10. “Play That Funky Music” by Vanilla Ice
Wild Cherry recorded the original funk rock version of this song in the seventies on their self-titled album. Vanilla Ice's song was strongly influenced by it, but he failed to credit Robert Parissi. He lost an infringement lawsuit. Another song on the album titled “Ice Ice Baby” made up for it.
11. “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls
This song was by the Australian band Divinyls for their self-titled album. It is about what you think it is about, with erotic imagery in both the lyrics and the music video. The song performed well in the US and the UK. The music video, by filmmaker Michael Bay, was nominated for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards.
12. “The Way You Do the Things You Do” by UB40
The Temptations first recorded this song in 1964, and it was covered by Hall & Oats in 1986. UB40 released their version on their “Labour of Love II” album and made it into a reggae song. It was a hit mostly in European countries but featured in the film “Black Rain,” which starred Michael Douglas.
13. “Rico Suave” by Gerardo
This Latin hip-hop song made it to number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released. It was a single by Gerardo, an Ecuadorian rapper, and singer. It was a single on his album titled Mo’Ritmo.