As a teenager growing up, the 90’s would be the decade that I began listening to music, both on the TV and Radio. Our family listened to a lot of country on the FM Radio (on car trips and doing yard work outside). Because of this, I have a soft spot in my heart for 90’s country songs, but the decade would find me also listening to a lot of Pop, Hip Hop, and Top 40 as well. I never really got into the grunge or alt-rock movement, and I’m not exactly sure why, but a lot of my music knowledge is rooted in the 90’s and the times I spent listening and discovering songs. As the decade was nearing its end, a little thing called Napster would come along and help me explore the decades prior to my childhood. I did also have a short stint with Columbia House/BMG that some of us Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers know all too well!
Initially I was going to write about the One-Hit Wonders of the 90’s, and as I was compiling my list, I started to notice a trend among the 90s Billboard Hot 100 charts. Each year near the top of the charts I would see a group (that seemed like a relative newcomer to the US music scene) who had charted with a pop or dance music hit, and many of these seem to fall into a new type of music genre known as “Eurodance”. I was sort of blown away, because when I thought of 90’s One Hit Wonders, I kept seeing these artists and groups who have their origins in Europe. Now, I must admit, some of these groups mentioned have had more than one or two big hits, so to call them One-Hit Wonders is unfair, which is why I pivoted from doing this article about One-Hit Wonders. These are songs that I sang along to, heard on the radio, and even could recite most of their choruses.
Some of these hits you might consider pop, some dance, and some even considered in the funk/hip-hop/pop/electronica style. While most of these groups from Europe may have been a “flash in the pan” here in the US, these songs are definitely ones us 90’s kids should remember quite fondly. Another personal story is that I became a huge NBA fan during these years, and watched the games on TV whenever I could, and I remember these songs playing in commercials and in the arena during timeouts, so that magnified the song even more to me.
Part One of this list is sorted chronologically covering years 1990-1992. As I compiled, I quickly realized I needed to break this into a three-part series that would span the entire decade. Part One is probably packed with the most hits as we were coming out of the 80’s and this Eurodance movement didn’t waste any time making its presence felt in the 90s. The fascinating thing is that some of these groups may have had one or two more singles to go along with their main chart topper, but that’s about where it ends for these groups (at least here in the US). They were on top, but didn’t have much staying power. Nevertheless, their efforts helped define a musical decade that you would really call a melting pot of various musical stylings.
Technotronic “Pump Up the Jam” (Highest Spot: #2)
My Memories: This was a hit in the tail in of the 80’s in the UK, and hit #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts. This is a song I associate with VHS Mix-Tapes of the NBA back in the early 90’s. Even the name of the group, Technotronic, seems fitting for the style and sound of this song. The group would have at least one more high charting song from the same album, “Get Up (Before the Night is Over). Us 90’s kids should know this song quite well – with one memorable line in the song being “getcha booty on the floor tonight”!
Snap! “The Power” (Highest Spot: #2)
My Memories: 90’s kids will know this song in the first 2 or 3 seconds with its memorable opening notes. Arguably a song that oozes everything the 90’s had to offer- another hype-up type of anthem heard in many stadiums and arenas back in the day. Similarly to Technotronic, the group would produce one more high-charting single “Rhythm is a Dancer” (more on that later in this article).
Black Box “Everybody Everybody” (Highest Spot: #8)
My Memories: I keep associating these hits with the NBA of the 90’s, and I know for certain I heard this playing in one of the Dunk Contests early in the decade. Martha Wash, the singer who can be heard in the chorus of several Black Box songs, was uncredited at the time of the release and she sued the group for not giving her credit. She would later provide vocals for the American House/Eurodance group C+C Music Factory, which ironically also didn’t credit her for vocals used in their biggest hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”.
EMF “Unbelievable” (Highest Spot: #1)
My Memories: Our first true One Hit Wonder in this list, EMF was a British band who charted this hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 at the start of the decade. They wouldn’t find much commercial success after this, although the band still performs and tours and released their last album in 2022. Cool fact – The part in the song that goes “Oh” is actually comedian Andrew Dice Clay in one of his standup bits.
Londonbeat “I’ve Been Thinking About You” (Highest Spot: #1)
My Memories: Another one that would definitely qualify as a one-hit wonder of the decade, this hit #1 on the Hot 100 also in the year 1990. And like, EMF, these guys still perform today all these years later.
Right Said Fred “I’m Too Sexy” (Highest Spot: #1)
My Memories: We’ve all heard this one, a cheesy 90’s hit that’s often associated with the fashion/runway model world. This was a huge worldwide hit, but here in the US, this would be their lone chart topper.
Cathy Dennis “Touch Me (All Night Long) (Highest Spot: #2)
My Memories: I’ve included Cathy Dennis from the UK as part of this Eurodance craze, she would first achieve success in the late 80’s with a music producer named D-Mob as a vocalist for the hit singles “C’mon and Get My Love” as well as “Just Another Dream”, but Touch Me is probably her most well known hit here in the US. Dennis has had a profound impact on the music industry, writing songs for Kylie Minogue, Katy Perry, the Spice Girls, and Britney Spears, to name a few.
2 Unlimited “Get Ready for This” (Highest Spot: #38)
My Memories: If anyone remembers ESPN releasing a CD called Jock Jams, this had to have been the first track on the disk. There may not be a more iconic song played at sporting events and stadiums in the 90’s than this one. It reached as high as #38 on the Hot 100 here in the states, but gets my vote for longevity in the music world. It’s a song that will get you hyped up for any kind of activity!
Snap! “Rhythm is a Dancer” (Highest Spot: #5)
My Memories: We talked about Snap! earlier in the list, with “The Power” and this is their other hit single. This one didn’t peak as high as “The Power”, but did achieve mainstream success. You can’t call Snap a one-hit wonder, but their two contributions to the US Eurodance music scene definitely helped the cause.
Well, that’s all for Part 1. Look for Part 2 and Part 3 later this year. I hope looking at a list like this, especially for a 90’s kid with a love for music, brings back good memories and transports you back to a time in a way that only music can do. The fact that we can remember and sing along to these songs today is a testament to how good they are and how much of an impact they played in the pop culture of that day.