The music of the ’90s

The 1990s doesn’t seem that long ago, until you delve into its musical history, and all of a sudden a whole world of music that hasn’t entered your consciousness in years comes flooding back. Here’s an attempt to synopsize the biggest trends.

In the world of pop – the best-selling album of the decade was Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. Other big names were Madonna, Celine Dion, and the Spice Girls – the most commercially successful British band in the US since The Beatles. Their success brought a new teen pop movement to this country towards the end of the decade, featuring artists such as Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Christina Aguilera, and Hanson.

Some of the biggest names in worldwide music from this decade came from the Contemporary R’n’B genre – which gave us the likes of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Boyz II Men. By the end of the decade this had spawned what is sometimes known as the neo-soul movement – which featured the likes of Lauryn Hill and D’Angelo.

Rap and hip-hop started to grow exponentially in this decade – mainly because the movement extended from NYC to other US cities. Big artists in this field included Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, The Wu-Tang Clan, and 2 artists who were killed in a rumoured East Coast-West Coast feud – The Notorious BIG and 2Pac.

In the world of rock we had defining albums from bands such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Metallica.

Sub-genres of rock include Pop Rock – with artists such as Alanis Morrissette, Sheryl Crow, Bryan Adams, Jeff Buckley. Also the 1990s was the era of grunge – with bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters leading the way in this genre.

Country music remained as popular as ever. The ’90s saw the phenomenon of Garth Brooks emerge – he sold 113million albums in this decade in the US alone; also Shania Twain, who became the best-selling female artist in country music history.

Across the water in Europe, the Britpop movement featured large. Bands such as Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Suede and The Verve addressed specifically British themes in their songs and captured the feelings of a generation.

Well-known European pop artists of this decade include Seal, George Michael, Jamiroquai, Ace of Base, Roxette and Right Said Fred. Latin artists such as Los Del Rio (The Macarena), Ricky Martin and Shakira also enjoyed success during this time. This decade also saw the re-emergence of the boy band. Take That and East 17 led the way in this regard, and were later challenged by similar Irish bands such as Boyzone and Westlife.

Other big Irish artists from the era include U2, The Cranberries, Sinéad O’Connor and The Corrs. Sligo band Indian enjoyed 4 Top 30 hits in this decade alone.

Tonight myself and a dozen or so friends will be presenting our take on some of the biggest hits from this decade. It’s a big outdoor gig, and we promise to rock the town! Stephen St. Car Park, Sligo, 9pm. Admission a laughably low €3.

I'm Kieran and I play piano. Actually I do a bit more than just playing - I teach others how to play, and I write music, arrange it and host/produce shows.