25 Best Songs From 1991

14. “Something to Believe In” by Poison

Power ballads were a type of rock song popular throughout the eighties that continued into the nineties. Poison was a glam metal band that made a lot of power ballads, including this one they released on their album “Flesh and Blood.”

The song was dedicated to James Kimo Maano, a security guard who was best friends with Bret Michaels, the band’s lead singer. During the shooting of the music video, images of Maano played on a screen to elicit an emotional response from Michaels. It worked, and the result is in the final cut.

15. “Everybody Plays the Fool” by Aaron Neville

This song was a single in 1972 for the Main Ingredient. Most people consider the definitive version to be Aaron Neville’s cover he recorded for his “Warm Your Heart” album. This song was the third time Neville had a song that hit the Billboard top 10.

16. “O.P.P.” by Naughty by Nature

When this song was released on Naughty by Nature’s self-titled album, there was a lot of discussion over what O.P.P. stood for. It isn’t hard to figure out the song is about infidelity, though it was a hit among kids who did not know what that meant. Later, it was named one of the 40 greatest hip-hop songs of all time by VH1.

17. “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…” by C+C Music Factory

C+C Music Factory was a dance group that specialized in hip-hop songs with a big sound. The inspiration for this song was a joke used frequently by Arsenio Hall about certain things that happen that make you have to stop to think about them. They released it on their album titled “Gonna Make You Sweat.”

18. “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd

This song was written for use in the film “New Jack City” and also became one of Color Me Badd’s best-selling singles. They released it on the film’s soundtrack and the band’s album “C.M.B.” The structure of the song was simple and allowed more focus on the lyrics and vocals, which were the group’s strengths.

19. “Justify My Love” by Madonna

Madonna had become a household name during the eighties and took the opportunity to change her image a little as she headed into a new decade. “Justify My Love” was a step away from the bubblegum pop she had produced before and went for a tough look. She released it as a single on her album “The Immaculate Collection.”

20. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash

Rolling Stone Magazine included this song on the list of the 500 greatest of all time. English punk rock band the Clash released it as part of their “Combat Rock” album in 1982. With the newfound popularity it received from a Levi’s commercial, it was re-released. It found its way back to the top of the UK Singles Chart again.

21. “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam

This quintessential song by Pearl Jam was released on their debut album titled “Ten”. Eddie Vedder, the lead singer, saw a newspaper article about a high school student who shot and killed himself in front of his class. That story inspired the song and the music video’s haunting imagery.

The editing of the music video left a lot of misinterpretation of the theme. MTV would not show a teenager putting a gun in their mouth. The scene was edited, making many believe Jeremy had shot his classmates. After a shooting at Frontier Junior High School, prosecutors argued that the edited version of the video inspired the shooter.

22. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

“Nevermind” was a seminal album for rock music. It ushered in the alternative rock movement of the nineties, eventually changing the sound of mainstream music. Nirvana was at the forefront with this song which became the anthem of Generation X. In 1997, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a song that shaped rock and roll.

23. “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Under the Bridge” was a song written about the loneliness and depression that comes along with getting out of a life of drug addiction. The song's lyrics were inspired by poetry written by someone who had gone through it and never wanted to experience it again. It was released on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ fifth album, titled “Blood Sugar Sex Magik.”

24. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

Metallica is one of the most versatile heavy metal bands ever. Their songs are not inaccessible to people who are dipping their toes in the genre. This song from their self-titled fifth album is filled with the imagery of a child’s nightmares. It reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

25. “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses were an iconic band during the eighties. As the nineties were ushered in, they succeeded in staying relevant by releasing this song as part of the film “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”. Even though the song is about one of the band member’s failed relationships, the sound it created with a one-minute drum and guitar solo was what James Cameron was looking for.

Top Songs From 1991, Final Thoughts

There is a lot of variety in the best songs from 1991. Grunge was taking off, alternative rock was becoming more commonplace, and the budget for music videos would sometimes rival feature films. Video outlets like MTV and VH1 were becoming powerhouses in their musical influence.

This list can be a starting point for the many songs from that year. Use the links provided here to head down a rabbit hole of music. The songs of the early nineties were a powerful lesson in the transition of culture as time passed. The way the best songs of 1991 covered so many genres is a breathtaking look at the influence of that year’s music.

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