There were several memorable hits from 1996, but do you know which tracks reigned supreme that year? Keep reading as we dive into our list of the 25 best songs from 1996 and see if you agree with our picks!
1. Change The World – Eric Clapton
First on our list is Change The World by Eric Clapton, which comes from the Phenomenon soundtrack. This song is all about trying to make a positive difference in the world, and there is a message of hope and power in this track. It’s one of his most uplifting songs that are still played today.
2. Killing Me Softly With His Song – Fugees
The Fugees had a hit with Killing Me Softly With His Song, which is one of the most iconic tracks from the group. It won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group and mixes both rap and hip hop to create a beautiful melody. It’s all about a woman who is so touched by a musician and his song that she begins to cry. To this day, it remains one of the best tracks ever written and one of the best songs of the 90s.
3. Because You Loved Me – Celine Dion
Up next is Celine Dion with her power ballad Because You Loved Me, which is all about appreciating the unconditional love and support from your significant other. It’s known worldwide and made it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and charted in several countries. Any romantic event likely has this song included in the playlist.
4. It’s All Coming Back To Me Now – Celine Dion
Celine Dion makes the list again with her amazing hit It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, which comes from her album Falling Into You. This iconic single is a love song that is not only powerful vocally but emotionally as well. It made it to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is one of her most beloved and recognizable tracks.
5. I Believe I Can Fly – R. Kelly
Next is R. Kelly with his smash hit I Believe I Can Fly, which you probably know from the movie Space Jam. This song is all about having hope and faith and not giving up on your dreams even when obstacles are in your way. This inspirational track won multiple Grammy Awards and is thought to be his signature song.
6. Santeria – Sublime
Sublime makes the list with its massive punk and ska hit Santeria, which also contains some hip hop elements with horns in the background. This song was written by Brad Nowell, the lead singer of the band, and it’s all about trying to get revenge on the guy who used to be with his girlfriend. It is one of their biggest hits, and it’s also one of the fan favorites because of its humor and interesting guitar riff that sounds out among other tracks of this era.
7. 3AM – Matchbox Twenty
Next is a sad and very emotional rock song called 3AM by Matchbox Twenty, which is a ballad that you’ll remember after hearing the powerful vocal skills of lead singer Rob Thomas. There is a piano in the background as he sings about struggling not only with loneliness but addiction and feeling very vulnerable. This is a fan favorite because of the emotional aspect of it that so many of us can relate to.
8. You’re Makin’ Me High – Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton had a huge hit with the song You’re Makin’ Me High, which is about falling in love and the desire, romance, and attraction that happens. If you’ve been in love then you can relate to the feeling of being high, and it’s a fan-favorite song that allows her to showcase her vocal skills and sex appeal. This is thought to be one of her most well-known hits, and it still receives a lot of radio play even today!
9. Tha Crossroads – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Written as a tribute to Eazy-E, the song Tha Crossroads makes our list by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. The track makes Bible references, and it’s all about having strength during hard times, such as when you lose a loved one. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, this song went to number two, and it’s one of their most iconic tracks that we all can relate to while mourning a loss in our lives.
10. Ironic – Alanis Morissette
One of the most well-known songs on our list is Ironic by Alanis Morrissette, and this track is still thought to be her signature song. Known by millions across the globe, it is a track about various situations in life where things seem “ironic” even though it’s all used wrong. For example, a man who was afraid to fly finally gets on a plane and it ends up crashing down. This is one of those catchy songs you can sing along to and the phrase “Isn’t it ironic?” is memorable.
11. I Love You Always Forever – Donna Lewis
Next is Donna Lewis with her signature hit I Love You Always Forever, which has sweet lyrics that’ll charm anyone and everyone that hears it. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, this song came in at number two, and it’s still played today on the radio. A lot of musicians have covered this track, but none will be as noteworthy as the original.
12. The Distance – Cake
Coming in at four on the Alternative Airplay chart is our next song, which is The Distance by Cake. This is one of those alternative tracks that blends funk, pop, and rock to create a catchy and rhythmic song that is a cult classic among alt-rock fans. The vocals are about a car race and the stakes are high; its delivery is deadpan and the storyline in the music video is funny.
13. One Headlight – The Wallflowers
One Headlight is on the list by The Wallflowers, which is a great rock song from 1996 that became a radio hit and helped the band break into commercial success. The lead singer, Jakob Dylan is the son of Bob Dylan. You can kind of hear Bob within his son’s voice, although Jakob is more talented and soulful vocally than his father. There are themes of self-discovery, love, loss, and nostalgia in this, and it’s perfect for any road trip.
14. Twisted – Keith Sweat
Keith Sweat makes our list with the track Twisted, which is a love song where you can hear his romantic soulful R&B voice tell you all about romance in only the way he can. This is thought to be one of the best R&B tracks ever, and it topped the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart while landing at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
15. Un-Break My Heart – Toni Braxton
Next is the song Un-Break My Heart by Toni Braxton, and this track is one of the most powerful heartbreak songs on our list. In this track, she uses her soulful voice over the orchestra to create an emotional song about regret and hoping the one you love comes back to you. The line “Un-break my heart” is repeated throughout the track, and it’s a song that you’ll remember the first time you hear it.
16. Where It’s At – Beck
Beck makes our list with the song Where It’s At, and this is one of their biggest tracks that helped push him into the mainstream. He is known for singing in spoken word, and this song is just like that with a chorus that’s catchy and groovy. The track reached 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 and five on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, and it’s one of their most well-known songs that still is a fan favorite today.
17. Ready Or Not – Fugees
Up next is the Fugees with their massive hit Ready Or Not, which mixes reggae, R&B, and hip hop to create an infectious beat and soulful vocal track that is still played even today. Whether you’re at a club, party, or just chilling at home, this song is going to make you feel energetic and confident at the same time. It hit 34 on the Rhythmic chart and 22 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.
18. Bulls On Parade – Rage Against The Machine
Next is Rage Against The Machine with their incredibly popular rock song Bulls On Parade, which is one of many political tracks the band has released over the years. This song was one of the biggest tracks of the decade with a music video you’ll remember because of its theme of war, resistance, propaganda, and social injustice. Whether you’re a fan of Rage Against The Machine or a political activist, this is one of those songs that’ll get you hyped up and make you want to become part of the resistance.
19. Don’t Let Go (Love) – En Vogue
En Vogue had one of the biggest songs of 1996 with their hit Don’t Let Go (Love), which is a classic and timeless R&B love ballad. This track is all about persevering and keeping up hope that love is out there for you. Thought to be one of their signature songs, it reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.
20. Firestarter – The Prodigy
If you like British wave and big-beat music, then you might know the next song, which is Firestarter by The Prodigy. This was the biggest hit the group had in the US, and it hit 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 24 on the Alternative Airplay charts. A mixture of rock, rave, and techno, it’s a dark-sounding track that stands out among many other songs on our list from 1996.
21. No Diggity – Blackstreet Feat. Dr. Dre And Queen Pen
Next is No Diggity by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre, and this song topped the Billboard Hot 100, Rhythmic, Dance Single Sales, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts when it was released. It’s one of the most iconic tracks of the 90s and their biggest hit to date. This song is thought to be one of the best tracks of all time and is still played in clubs and on the radio today.
22. Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews Band
Crash Into Me by the Dave Matthews Band is on our list, and this is their signature song that is about yearning and infatuation, and while soulful and mellow, there is a lot of angst underneath in the lyrics that you can hear. If you’ve watched the pilot episode of Roswell, then you’ve heard this track at least once.
It is a timeless rock hit that can be both romantic and perfect for a slow dance or can be interpreted as more dreamy and introspective depending on how you look at it. Regardless, it is a very haunting song that you’ll relate to if you crave a connection or an intimate relationship with someone, and it’s one of the fan favorites at their concerts.
23. What I Got – Sublime
Next is Sublime with their huge rock hit What I Got, which topped the Alternative Airplay chart at number one. It landed on the Mainstream Rock chart at number 11 and Radio Songs list at number 29.
This has a chorus that is very catchy, and there are several references to drug use within the lyrics. The theme is about being positive and hopeful as you overcome the obstacles in your life. Sadly, the lead singer, Brad Nowell, died later in 1996 from a drug overdose, and this track then became the biggest radio song that is still played today by this band.
24. C’Mon n’ Ride It (The Train) – Quad City DJ’s
Quad City DJ’s make our list next with their song C’Mon N’ Ride It (The Train), which is one of the biggest tracks that they released. It made it to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and samples different genres of music such as pop, soul, and funk. This is one of those famous dance songs that you still hear in the clubs today.
25. Say You’ll Be There – Spice Girls
Last on our list is the Spice Girls with Say You’ll Be There, and this is one of their most famous songs. Not only is this track popular because of its hook, which is super catchy, but the beat of the song is also instantly recognized among fans.
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.