Listening to music from a certain time usually brings out feelings of nostalgia. For you, it seems that year may be ’96.
Here is a list of the best songs from 1996 you’ll hopefully love.
“Ironic” by Alanis Morisette
This playlist would be incomplete without mentioning the classic 1996 song “Ironic”. Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard this song about a thousand times.
This is a fantastic song for dealing with the ironies of life, like rain on your wedding day, meeting the perfect guy and then meeting his wife, or getting something for free after you’ve paid for it. Alanis perfectly worded the ironic things in life that can cause frustration or hilarity.
“Un-Break My Heart” by Toni Braxton
We all know the 90s were a great decade for power ballads and breakup songs. Toni Braxton delivered us this beautiful song that we all heard our aunts and moms sing through the years. It’s one of the saddest songs ever.
“Un-break My Heart” is a pleading song to an ex that shattered your heart. It talks about the betrayal you might feel when someone says they don’t love you anymore. This song showcases Toni’s amazing vocals and will have you wailing into your cooking spoon if you play it while making dinner.
“Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)” by Los Del Rio
We all know the “Macarena.” Even as you read this, you can probably hear, “1-maca, 2-maca, 3-macarena…” and see the dance in your mind. The remix by the Bayside Boys is a work of art for those who enjoy dancing.
A perfect song for your deep cleaning playlist, you can mindlessly dance to this timeless classic. You can also sneak this onto your throwback party playlist.
“Push” by Matchbox Twenty
For those who love classic rock, you’ve heard of Matchbox Twenty. For those who don’t, let us introduce you to them through their 1996 song, “Push.”
This song talks about not being good enough for someone. It’s a self-deprecating song and slightly depressing, so you can add it to your sad day playlist.
“Coco Jamboo” by Mr. President
Another dance song to add to your 90s or deep-cleaning playlist, this one from Mr. President and 9Tendo is perfect for a slow but fun day.
The lyrics are not especially deep or moving. The song is literally about enjoying yourself and letting loose. You can blast this at a karaoke event with friends or play it as you mop your floors.
“It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” by Celine Dion
One of the greatest power ballads of all time, “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” is the song to play in the shower. You can belt out those powerful lyrics until you tip your head too far back and swallow some shower water.
Celine Dion’s vocals ruled the 90s, and “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” showcases her talent. The lyrics, plus her vocal mastery and range, make this song powerful and beautiful.
“Where Do You Go” by No Mercy
“Where Do You Go” is a fun, upbeat 1996 pop song. If you want a song to energize you before your work day or cleaning, blast this at maximum volume.
However, the lyrics aren’t exactly happy. No Mercy is asking a girl where she goes whenever her lover wants to see her. This girl leaves without a word and never leaves her phone number, causing great heartache to the one who is enamored by her.
“How Do You Want It?” by Tupac Shakur
Is a 1996 best song list complete without 2Pac on it? “How Do You Want It?” is the perfect song to add here. It hit number 17 on the Billboard Top 40 songs in 1996.
Again, for those who do not like vulgarity, this is not the song for you. For those who want to get their dancing shoes on and feel like they’re partying in the 90s, add this to your playlist.
“When You Love a Woman” by Journey
1996 gave us some amazing love songs. “When You Love A Woman” by Journey is a legendary one, putting it on this list of the best songs from 1996.
Played at weddings and anniversaries, this song talks of the all-encompassing love a man has for a woman. He asks her to think of him and says that when he loves her, he loves her fully and truly.
“Fastlove” by George Michael
George Michael serenaded us with “Careless Whisper” and then had us shuffling and dancing with “Fastlove” in 1996.
This song is a classic 90s bop speaking of fast and hard love. It makes you want to dance and remember non-commital relationships and late nights in the city.
“You’re Makin’ Me High” by Toni Braxton
“You’re Makin’ Me High” is a salacious song by Toni Braxton. She shows off not only her vocal talent but also her naughty and playful side with this one.
The message in this song is exceptionally clear. Toni sings about how she can’t get this guy out of her head. She mentions how she can’t help herself and goes on to give a few details. It’s the perfect song for a night in.
“Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” by Lil’ Kim, ft. Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Left Eye, Angie Martinez
You can’t have a 90s playlist without Lil’ Kim. Her song “Not Tonight” came out in 1996 and featured Missy Elliot, Da Brat, Left Eye, and Angie Martinez.
If you’re not a fan of profanity, we recommend you skip this one, but for those who can listen to “WAP” with a straight face, this is child’s play.
“If Only Your Girl Knew” by Aaliyah
A stunning musician, Aaliyah amazed the world with “If Only Your Girl Knew.” With the funky pop beat and catchy lyrics, this song give us the perfect 90 vibes.
Another powerful 90s duo, Missy Elliot and Timbaland, wrote this song that Aaliyah sang. You can use it for your cleaning playlist or house party.
“Keep On Keeping On” by MC Lyte
A classic 90s rap song, “Keep On Keeping On” may make your mom and dad start bopping their heads. It features the girl group Xscape. Since we haven’t heard from the artists in a while, it’s truly nostalgia-inducing.
The song talks about a love that came in and changed the world of the rapper. They encourage their lover to keep on doing what they’re doing because their love is a new and welcome kind of love.
“The Earth, The Sun, The Rain” by Color Me Badd
If you’re feeling lovestruck, you will enjoy this song by Color Me Badd. “The Earth, The Sun, The Rain” is a tender and gentle love song reminiscent of the 90s.
You can add this to your date night playlist or play it after a Hallmark movie marathon to complete the mood. The song speaks of an unyielding and all-consuming love a man has for the most beautiful woman he has ever laid his eyes on.
“I Believe In You And Me” by Whitney Houston
Is any 1990s playlist complete without the queen of 90s pop, Whitney Houston? This beautiful love song reminds us why her voice is so well-known around the world.
This song talks about a love that stays strong and true through the ages. Through hardships, turmoil, and all other life events, Whitney Houston reminds her lover that she will always believe in their love.
“Po Pimp” by Do or Die
If you like 90s rap, then you have probably already overplayed “Po Pimp.” This debut single from Do or Die is a classic 90s rap song.
It features nostalgia-inducing hip-hop beats and lyrics, giving the feeling of “real rap” many people long for.
“Midnight In A Perfect World” by DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow gave us a classic 90s TV show song, “Midnight In A Perfect World”. This electronic rap song sounds like something you’d hear at the start of shows like “Sex and the City.”
The lyrics are few and far between, and the beat is almost hypnotic. This song is perfect for those who enjoy LoFi hip-hop while working, as it blends well with background noise to give a fantastic ambiance.
“Daylight Fading” by Counting Crows
This is one of the better alternative rock songs of the year 1996. “Daylight Fading” by Counting Crows probably helped start a few emo phases back in the day.
The song talks about feeling depressed and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It speaks of anger, fear, and despair at feeling unseen and unheard.
“What’s On Tonight” by Montell Jordan
A 1996 rap song by Montell Jordan, this hit is about an anticipatory date night. It’s not a love song, however, but describes the yearning for a good date night.
If you’re planning a date night, you can listen to this as you prepare. Otherwise, this can go into a playlist you’ll use to channel your inner heartbreaker.
“E-Bow the Letter” by R.E.M
This melancholy alternative rock song by R.E.M. is perfect for morning coffee playlists. It isn’t clear who the song is for or about as the “you” is ambiguous, but that’s part of the reason why it’s become so popular; it could be about anyone and everyone.
The lyrics of “E-Bow the Letter” speak of pain, fear, and a lack of understanding most people have of fame. R.E.M. mentions wearing a crown of sadness and sorrow, wishing to not disappoint their fans.
“I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis
If you want to listen to a dreamy pop love song from 1996, “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis is the perfect option. She joins many more artists in making 1996 the year of love songs.
In this song, Donna begs the love of her life to promise to love her forever since knows she will love him forever. She promises that with all she is and everywhere she goes, she will always love him.
“Follow You Down” by Gin Blossoms
“Follow You Down” is another perfect alternative rock song from 1996. The song feels a bit melancholic but the lyrics are triumphant.
The Gin Blossoms promise to follow this person wherever they go. However, they do mention that they will not follow too far down. It’s a funny, but heartwarming, song that many people enjoy.
“Change The World” by Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton gave us this heartfelt and romantic love song you can belt out in the shower. It was one of the best love ballads of 1996 and is still powerful today.
He speaks of how his love for a woman could change the world. He also says that if he could, he would want to be her sunlight and king and everything good in her life. It’s an amazing song you can add to your wedding reception playlist.
“Who Will Save My Soul” by Jewel
Jewel gave us this beautiful indie pop song in 1996. It’s a song that speaks to questioning priorities and what holds meaning in life.
Jewel speaks of someone who believes they are worth nothing. She also speaks of the hustling, wars, and general dissatisfaction of life and how we all end up alone in the end.
“You’re The One” by SWV
SWV gave us this scandalous R&B love song in 1996. It’s a song about forbidden love and the complicated feelings that come with it.
SWV sings about how the person they want to be with is already in a relationship. They know that the person loves them. However, they cannot control their feelings or love and want this person to know of it and come to them.
“Sweet Dreams” by La Bouche
If you want to feel as though you’re in a club in 1996, play “Sweet Dreams” by La Bouche. This song transports you to a neon-lit club in Manhattan during much simpler times.
La Bouche had tons of people swaying to the rhythm of the music with this one. This song stayed on the Billboard 100 at number 13 in 1996. It spoke to feeling the rhythm, the music, and finding passion.
“One of Us” by Joan Osbourne
While not technically released in 1996, this song topped the charts the entire year. You know the lyrics because even now, this song is popular.
Joan Osbourne asks the question, “What if God was one of us?” She sings about all of the mundane things that happen in our lives and asks us to consider how God would look and act if He were here on earth.
“Counting Blue Cars” by Dishwalla
1996 was a fantastic year for alternative rock. Dishwalla found himself on the Billboard Top 40 with “Counting Blue Cars.”
Before Ariana Grande’s “God Is A Woman,” Dishwalla had already told us he would like to meet God and ask her what we are doing here and why we’re who we are. This song is about reflection and questioning your purpose in the world.
“Sitting Up In My Room” Remix by Brandy
As one of the strongest voices of the 90s and early 2000s, Brandy blessed us all with her songs. “Sitting Up In My Room” is a pop song with a classic late 90s beat that will have you swaying and dancing.
This song is about infatuation and the feeling you have when you first get a crush. Brandy speaks of sitting in her room and daydreaming about a guy. She can’t get him out of her head no matter how hard she tries, hoping they’ll get together.
“You Learn” by Alanis Morrisette
We all know and love “Ironic,” but that is not the only great Alanis Morrissette song from 1996. “You Learn” is a song that speaks to harsh truths and life lessons.
Alanis sings about the hard lessons she would recommend anyone learn. She talks about getting your heart shattered and biting off more than you can chew. She explains that these life lessons are the only way to truly live and learn.
Top Songs From 1996, Final Thoughts
That was the best songs from 1996. 1996 was a good year for heartbreak, love songs, and alternative rock. The artists gave us many amazing pieces to jam out to in the car, relate to when down, and slow dance to at weddings or in the kitchen.
Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or trying to curate the perfect mood playlist, this list has plenty of good music.
Share your favorite 1996 songs with us below!