The year 1991 was filled with several great tracks spanning nearly every genre you can think of as hair metal started to fade and grunge was all the rage. If you’re looking to create a playlist or just want some nostalgia, keep reading to find out what made our list of the 31 best songs from 1991!
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
First on our list is Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, which is on the Nevermind album. This was the staple song for the grunge movement, and it changed the direction of music in the early 90s. The track made it to number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Alternative Airplay chart.
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2. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams was very popular in the 90s and his song (Everything I Do) I Do It For You is one of the biggest tracks of 1994 and one of the best songs of the decade. The track was made for Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
3. Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
Up next is R.E.M. with their alt-rock song Losing My Religion, which comes from the album Out Of Time. Both VH1 and MTV played the music video often and that’s how this track became such a big hit, and it was far different from other songs the band had written at that time. It hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and is one of their most well-known tracks to date.
4. I Touch Myself – Divinyls
Divinyls had a hit with I Touch Myself, which is exactly what you think, and this song had a lot of erotic elements to it in the lyrics including female masturbation. Michael Bay directed the music video, and it ended up being nominated for an MTV award. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit number two on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.
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5. Justify My Love – Madonna
Next is Madonna with her hit Justify My Love, which was from her The Immaculate Collection album. This song was more hip hop and experimental pop, so it was different from other tracks she had released in the past. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance Club Singles chart. It was featured in an episode of Glee, and it’s still played on the radio today.
6. O.P.P. – Naughty By Nature
Up next is Naughty By Nature with their song O.P.P., which is a track where everyone was trying to figure out what it stood for, and it’s one of the best hip hop songs of 1991 and of that decade. This track is all about infidelity, and it goes both for women and men. It hit number one on the Hot Rap Songs chart and peaked at six on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. Jeremy – Pearl Jam
Jeremy is up next, which is one of the most famous songs by Pearl Jam and comes from the album Ten. This track is about a boy who the lead singer Eddie Vedder had read about in a newspaper that killed himself in front of his classmates. He was so inspired by the news article that he wrote this song in honor of the boy.
8. Where Does My Heart Beat Now – Celine Dion
Where Does My Heart Beat Now is on our list, which is one of many hit Celine Dion songs from the 90s. This track comes from the album Unison, which was the first album that she did in English since she is a French-Canadian musician. The song hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at two on the Adult Contemporary chart.
9. More Than Words – Extreme
Next is the band Extreme who had a hit with the song More Than Words on their album Pornograffitti. This track is mostly known for its iconic music video, which shows the guys just sitting there singing in black and white. It is all about telling your significant other to show you that they love you instead of saying it.
10. Unbelievable – EMF
The recognizable “Ohh” of Andrew Dice Clay is featured in the song Unbelievable by EMF, which came from their debut album. Not only was this one of the biggest tracks of the year, it has been a staple on the radio ever since.
11. You Could Be Mine – Guns N’ Roses
Next is the rock band Guns N’ Roses with You Could Be Mine, which was released on the soundtrack to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The song went to number two on the Mainstream Rock chart and peaked at 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first single released on the Use Your Illusion II album, and it’s all about a failed relationship.
12. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday – Boyz II Men
One of the sadder songs on our list is the cover of It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday, which is one of the classic tracks by Boyz II Men. The song has been used in several movies including Lethal Weapon 3, and it’s all about the sadness you feel when someone you know and love dies.
13. High Enough – Damn Yankees
Damn Yankees is on the list with their song High Enough, which reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. This track was from their debut album and became the only top single they would have. It’s all about when you love someone but you’re worried that you’ll scare them away if you try to take the next step.
14. Something To Talk About – Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt is next on our list with Something To Talk About, which she released on her album Luck Of The Draw, and this song was a hit in 1991. It hit number five on the Adult Contemporary chart and was a hit outside of the US, including being popular in Canada.
15. Good Vibrations – Marky Mark
Calling all fans of The Departed, you may not know that Mark Wahlberg had a hip hop group in the 90s called Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch. One of their biggest hits was Good Vibrations, and this song was on the debut album Music For The People.
16. Rush, Rush – Paula Abdul
Up next is Rush, Rush by Paula Abdul, which was released on her album Spellbound. This was a huge success for her, and it went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Not only was it popular in America, but it was a hit globally. It was the first time she released a ballad such as this one so it was unique compared to her past work.
17. One – U2
Irish rockers U2 are on our list with their hit One, which made it to number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. This song was one of their biggest hits as it topped the Modern Rock Tracks chart and topped the Singles Charts in Ireland. They put it out there for a single release to benefit AIDS research, and it’s one of their most well-known songs to date.
18. I Like The Way (The Kissing Game) – Hi-Five
Hi-Five makes the list with I Like The Way (The Kissing Game), and this song went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It comes from their debut album, and despite the pop sounds, the music video was very dark.
19. Baby, Baby – Amy Grant
Amy Grant makes our list with her hit Baby, Baby, which was released on the album Heart In Motion. What’s interesting is that she became the first Christian artist with a number-one hit in America when she released it, and this song is thought to be her signature track.
20. I Wanna Sex You Up – Color Me Badd
Color Me Badd is a band you’ll recognize because of their hit song I Wanna Sex You Up, which was used in the movie soundtrack album for New Jack City. This track also was released on the album C.M.B. that they released.
21. The First Time – Surface
Next is Surface with the song The First Time, which went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for two weeks. It hit the Adult Contemporary chart and R&B chart where it also peaked at number one.
22. How I Could Just Kill A Man – Cypress Hill
Next is hip hop group Cypress Hill with How I Could Just Kill A Man from their debut album. It is one of the top rap songs of all time and was their biggest hit. This track has been released a few times through the years on compilation albums.
23. Love Is A Wonderful Thing – Michael Bolton
Love Is A Wonderful Thing by Michael Bolton makes the list because it’s one of his romantic ballads that has stood the test of time. This mega-hit comes from his album Time, Love & Tenderness, and his unique voice along with the instruments make this one of the top songs of 1991.
24. Enter Sandman – Metallica
Up next is metal band Metallica with their hit Enter Sandman, which reached 16 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. This is one of their classic songs and is all about it has one of the most memorable drum beats of all time and has become one of their signature tracks.
25. Black Or White – Michael Jackson
The next artist needs no introduction since it’s Michael Jackson with his song Black Or White, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in less than a month and then stayed there for seven weeks! This became one of his biggest tracks, and it is still a classic song fans love to listen to today.
26. Two Princes – Spin Doctors
Two Princes by Spin Doctors is next, and this song hit number three on the Cash Box Top 100 chart and seven on the Billboard Hot 100. They didn’t win but were nominated for a Grammy under Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group for this track. This was known as their signature song, and they could never top the popularity of this track.
27. Someday – Mariah Carey
Pop star Mariah Carey is on our list with her hit Someday, which mixes R&B with pop and dance, and this song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s thought to be one of her biggest hits, and it was one of her most-played tracks of 1991.
28. From A Distance – Bette Midler
Next is Bette Midler with From A Distance, which was a cover song that not only brought her more success, but the track quickly became an international hit after her cover. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and one on the Adult Contemporary chart.
29. Right Here, Right Now – Jesus Jones
Jesus Jones makes the list with Right Here, Right Now, which was released on the album Doubt. It went to number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and hit two on the Billboard Hot 100. This song was played the most on college radio stations during 1991.
30. One More Try – Timmy T
Timmy T is on the list with One More Try, which was inspired by a breakup he went through. It went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and that was the first time a song that was from an independent record label hit number one in 10 years.
31. Should I Stay Or Should I Go – The Clash
Last on our list is Should I Stay Or Should I Go by The Clash. This song was rereleased when it ended up in a Levi’s advertisement, which was when it really gained a lot of traction. One of their biggest hits, the track is still played often on the radio today. Contrary to rumors, it’s not written about any specific person or situation with the band.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.