You're Going To Have All The Nostalgia Feels Listening To These '90s Pop Songs
No matter your age, it’s tough to resist the power of ’90s pop song. Delivering hit after iconic hit song, the 199os gave the world all kinds of musical gifts like Britney Spears—and fashion missteps like Justin Timberlake’s infamous ramen hair.
Sure, a lot ‘90s music didn’t make sense, and some of the most recognizable songs have lyrics that borderline gibberish. But that’s part of the beauty of it.
While Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes might rule the pop charts now, you have to give major props to all the artists that came before them. That’s why the 50 best ’90s pop songs deserve a spot on your playlist (or better yet, a whole playlist to themselves like this one—you’re welcome).
So grab a scrunchie to tie up your hair, because some of these are real head bangers.
1. “Wannabe” by Spice Girls (1996)
No matter which Spice Girl you identified with (I was Baby Spice all day), the ultimate ode to female friendships and girl power will never fail to pump up your crew, even if you still mumble through some of the lyrics…
2. “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot (1992)
This song isn’t just an instant party-starter—it’s also a Grammy award winner. Let that sink in (while shaking all you got, duh).
3. “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer (1998)
This song was **made** for romantic comedies. Lyrics like “Kiss me beneath the milky twilight / lead me out on the moonlit floor” are so dreamy. Play this around your crush because when the chorus hits, you know someone is getting a big ‘ol smooch.
4. “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men (1992)
The R&B group’s oh-so-soulful ballad was originally released as part of the Boomerang soundtrack, but has everlasting appeal. Need proof? It topped the Billboard charts for 13 weeks back in the day, and people still can’t resist the tear-jerker now.
5. “Always Be My Baby” by Mariah Carey (1995)
There’s a few hundred reasons why Mariah received the Icon Award at the 2019 Billboard Awards, and this song is definitely one of them. She somehow delivers a ballad you can actually dance to while hitting otherworldly high notes like it’s nbd. People might not stay in your life forever, but this song will.
6. “The Boy Is Mine” by Brandy and Monica (1998)
Finding a boy worth fighting another woman over is a bit questionable in 2019 because a) feminism and b) dating apps full of boys (none of whom are worth fighting over). But Brandy and Monica get a pass thanks to their masterful vocals and bangin’ beat.
7. “Torn” By Natalie Imbruglia (1997)
“I’m all out of faith / This is how I feel, I’m cold and I am shamed,” a.k.a. me waking up on a Monday morning. This song is such an angsty classic, plus let’s never forget that a baby One Direction covered this on The X Factor.
8. “Say My Name” By Destiny’s Child (1998)
When the first few notes of “Say My Name” hits speakers, it’s usually met with excited screams. The Grammy award-winning song triggered some drama within Destiny’s Child, but the past is the past, right? **Watches Homecoming for the twelfth time.**
9. “One Week” By Barenaked Ladies (1998)
Take some deep breaths before trying to sing along to these verses because you’ll be spitting a lot of words and pop culture references out there (props if you understand them all, too).
10. “Hold On” By Wilson Phillips (1990)
This is one of those songs that seems to follow you wherever you go—and that’s not a bad thing. Lyrics like “Don’t you know things can change / Things’ll go your way” can turn even the worst day around. And more likely than not, you’ll end up performing a heartfelt duet with your bestie à la Bridesmaids.
11. “…Baby, One More Time” By Britney Spears (1999)
This song is pop perfection, and it was Britney’s debut single. But obviously, that wasn’t beginner’s luck. She continues to serve pop realness on the daily. (And if you say you’ve never thought about recreating her school girl look from the music video, you’re lying.)
12. “Waiting For Tonight” By Jennifer Lopez (1999)
J.Lo is full of hit songs perfect for busting out your best dance moves, and this tune chock full of punchy beats is no exception. The original version was recorded by a girl group called 3rd Party, but Jenny’s version brought her into the dance-pop world and earned her chart-topping, fan-loving success.
13. “No Scrubs” By TLC (1999)
Before Beyonce said “Boy Bye,” TLC made sure you and your friends knew you didn’t need or want “No Scrubs.” The chart-topper nabbed the trio a Grammy nom for Record of the Year and is a forever reminder to never apologize for having high standards.
14. “Summer Girls” By LFO (1999)
LFO namedrops Larry Byrd, New Kids On The Block, Abercrombie and Fitch, and Macaulay Culkin, so listening is like a time capsule of ’90s gems. Plus, it’s forever secured its spot on summer playlists.
15. “Mambo No. 5″ By Lou Bega (1999)
Who didn’t want their name included in “Mambo No. 5”? It instantly gave you a little extra street cred. And while it always bummed me out that my sister’s name was included but not mine, it’s nonetheless a timeless bop.
16. “Vogue” By Madonna (1990)
Madonna defines “pop legend,” and this song is nothing short of iconic. Considered some of her finest work, “Vogue” is the inspiration you need to let it alllll go on the dance floor.
17. “S Club Party” By S Club 7 (1999)
It’s a bold choice to name a party song after your band, but in this case, it makes total sense, since it’s a vocal roll call to all seven (!) members of the group. After all, “There ain’t no party like an S Club party.”
18. “Gonna Make You Sweat” By C&C Music Factory (1990)
This banger’s instantly recognizable and infectious rhythm brings the energy to take your workout, solo dance party, or club moves to a level you didn’t even know you possessed.
19. “B*tch” By Meredith Brooks (1997)
You’ll feel like an instant badass when you turn this song on—and way up. Plus, when it comes to living room dance parties, this song has it all: catchy lyrics to yell at the top of your lungs and a sick guitar solo.
20. “How Bizarre” By OMC (1995)
This feel-good tune is the musical equivalent of cruising down the highway in a convertible on a sunny day (hence the music video’s opening scene). Life may be bizarre, but this song makes it a bit more bearable.
21. “I Want You Back” By *NSYNC (1998)
This certified bop remains on the shortlist of the boy band’s greatest hits. And not just because Justin Timberlake wears a skintight, half-zip periwinkle-colored tee in the music video.
(No offense to whoever this was written about, but after seeing that, I would’ve taken these boys back in a heartbeat.)
22. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” By Lauryn Hill (1998)
This was Lauryn Hill’s debut single as a solo artist outside of her group The Fugees. The song has held up against the test of time, tackling a dialogue about sexual politics.
23. “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion (1997)
You can’t think about the ‘90s without conjuring up images of blockbuster movie Titanic and a young Leonardo DiCaprio (swoon). Celine gives new meaning to the term “power ballad” with this hit that’ll have you testing out how loud you can belt “wherever you are” to whoever will listen.
Speaking of ’90s icon Celine Dion, she’s out here living her BEST life in 2019:
24. “The Sign” By Ace of Base (1994)
Pitch Perfect’s version of this classic ’90s pop song might be humorously stale, and Stephanie Tanner’s talent show rendition on Full House might’ve ended in disaster, but the OG version had just the right amount of techno to be a total crowd pleaser.
25. “Candy” By Mandy Moore (1999)
Before you watched Princess Diaries and decided you wanted to be Mandy Moore (even though she was kind of the worst), she released this “sweet as candy” pop song that’s legit like sugar to your ears.
26. “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith (1998)
Count on Will Smith to put a smile on your face and a jig in your step. The song nabbed Will a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance, so yeah, it’s a big deal. Turn it on, and just let your shoulder shimmy do its ~thing~.
27. “Step By Step” by New Kids On The Block (1990)
This funky little song was NKOTB’s highest selling single and duh, with good reason. As soon as it comes on any playlist, every ’90s kid can’t help but move and groove all night long.
28. “Lovefool” by The Cardigans (1996)
Waiting to hear someone say they love you? Relatable. So relatable, in fact, that the song appeared in not one, but two classic teen dramas—the 1996 Romeo + Juliet and the 1999 Cruel Intentions.
29. “C’est la Vie” by B*Witched (1998)
Just like in the music video, listening to this song will make you want to jump (or riverdance?) around in an electric green field of wildflowers. Like, try not to have a good time jamming to this. (Oh, and you’re definitely mature enough now to pick up on the sexual innuendos in the lyrics.)
30. “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette (1995)
There are some songs that just drip with raw emotion (and passionate fury!), and this is one of them.
31. “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys (1999)
Released before the turn of the Millennium (see what I did there?), “I Want It That Way” is the pop power ballad that begs you to belt it out any time, any place with the most sincerity you can muster. After all, boy bands do love and longing best.
32. “Mo Money, Mo Problems” by The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Puff Daddy & Mase (1997)
Released after Notorious B.I.G.’s death, this ’90s song samples Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” so it’s essentially two bangers in one.
33. “Smooth” by Santana ft. Rob Thomas (1999)
Santana and Matchbox 20’s Rob Thomas was the collab of the decade. The song has become a bit of a punchline, but Santana’s guitar still rips (in my humble opinion).
34. “Barbie Girl” by Aqua (1997)
It’s time to party (and maybe also time for a little Barbie cosplay?). The Danish-Norwegian group Aqua released this chaotic, plastic-sounding song into the world, and it’s held a, um, special spot in pop culture ever since. Oh, and the lyrics aren’t as pure as you once thought…
35. “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice (1990)
Fun fact: This was the first hip hop single to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Not-so-fun fact: Vanilla Ice was sued for ripping off the bass line of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” They settled out of court (for an undisclosed sum) and both Queen and Bowie received songwriting credits, per Rolling Stone. But hey, as far as ’90s scandals go, this one is pretty tame.
Plus, who can forget the ridiculous (and tbh, iconic) strip scene to this song in 13 Going on 30?
36. “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (1991)
Remember when (Marky) Mark Wahlberg had a music career? You do now. This pop hit samples “Love Sensation,” sung by Loleatta Holloway, and has a beat that can go on for days.
37. “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team (1993)
Party people, unite! The ultimate pump-up song, this tune’s bass shakes your soul to its core. It’s pretty much the perfect anthem for anything, from sporting events to mail rooms gone wild à la Elf.
Tag Team might be a one-hit wonder, but their cultural impact is neverending.
38. “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” by Shania Twain (1997)
Shania Twain was Taylor Swift before Taylor Swift was even a thing. She mastered the country-pop crossover and made it feel so d*mn good to be a woman at the same time. Let’s go girls.
39. “I Swear” by All-4-One (1994)
Can you believe this was originally a country song? All-4-One’s vocals are dripping with sincerity that’ll make you believe their declarations of love are meant for you—and only you.
40. “Jump” by Kris Kross (1992)
At the ripe ages of 12 and 13, this duo released a song that sold millions of copies with one very specific demand: jump!
41. “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts (1995)
Friends fanatics, this one’s for you. From the opening guitar line to those irresistible claps, this feel-good tune is indisputably one of the most iconic TV theme songs.
42. “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt (1995)
Heartbreak makes for some great art. Sad, but true (just ask Adele). This song is for anyone who just doesn’t want to hear it, okay? Thanks, Gwen.
43. “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden (1997)
Lyrics that read like a love song might make you cringe or swoon, but hopefully the latter.
44. “All Star” by Smash Mouth (1999)
Smash Mouth is the gift that keeps giving (don’t @ me). The infectious lyrics are great fodder for some sick burns, like holding your fingers in the shape of an “L” on your forehead. Classic.
45. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin (1999)
Ricky Martin knows how to get people to lose their minds on the dance floor. Sure, you might not exactly know what it means to be taken away to the crazy life, but you’re into it.
46. “MMMBop” by Hanson (1997)
Who needs real words when infectious “dapa doos” will, uh, do? Today, the song is best listened to with a bottle of Mmmhops in hand because you’re a real adult now.
47. “What A Girl Wants” By Christina Aguilera (1999)
Lyrical queen Christina Aguilera followed up “Genie in a Bottle,” the sexy single from her self-titled album, with this soulful song that established her golden riffs. Girl has the range.
48. “Wonderwall” by Oasis (1995)
Noah Gallagher would probably lose his mind seeing “Wonderwall” on a pop song list, but the fact is, it’s a banger. Immortalized by college dudes with an acoustic guitar in tow, the hit begs for a heartfelt rendition or two (thousand). And the piano at the end? Bring a tissue.
49. “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer (1990)
This song is best listened and/or danced to while wearing the most ridiculous parachute pants you can get your hands on. Get that footwork going and those hips moving!
50. “Closing Time” by Semisonic (1998)
Whether it’s last call early Sunday morning or you find yourself humming this Fridays at 5 p.m., this song is a timeless reminder of life’s endings and new beginnings. As they say, all good things, like this playlist, must come to an end.
If you love all these songs (and come on, how could you not?!), then you need to follow Women’s Health‘s Best ’90s Pop Songs playlist on Spotify ASAP.
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