Oh, snap! Thirty years ago, 1993 gave us a long list of songs that were all that and a bag of chips. 1993 was huge for rap, R&B, pop, and alternative. Sit back, take a chill pill, and enjoy our breakdown of the best songs from 1993.
1. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston
Although Whitney Houston’s version of this song is not the original recording, it is undeniably one of the most famous ballads in contemporary musical history.
The single is an iconic cultural pillar that sold over twenty million copies globally. Whitney Houston recorded the song for her acting debut in the film “The Bodyguard.”
She received sweeping critical acclaim for her vocal performance on this single and it brought international stardom. It broke the record for the longest duration in the number one spot on American music charts.
Whitney Houston won multiple Grammy awards and other high accolades for “I Will Always Love You.” The Library of Congress chose to preserve the recording because of its historical and cultural value.
2. “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You” by UB40
This Elvis Presley original came back into the limelight after this new recording by the British group UB40 in their signature reggae style. UB40’s cover topped musical charts across the globe.
Their version appears in films and received wide critical acclaim for its diversion from the popular music norm.
3. “Freak Me” by Silk
R&B group Silk released “Freak Me” on their debut album. It went certified platinum in the US. This is the group’s biggest hit, having spent many weeks charting in the R&B singles category.
4. “Weak” by SWV
Following in Silk’s footsteps, SWV had chart-topping success with a single off their first album. “Weak” made international R&B musical charts and is one of the greatest girl group songs of all time.
5. “Fields of Gold” by Sting
This classic ballad speaks of a golden field that a pair of lovers walk in during the late summer, casting a golden lens over their time together. The intimate vocals and folksy stylings of this ballad are the perfect methods of presenting a story of love and the passage of time.
6. “The River of Dreams” by Billy Joel
This track is Billy Joel’s best-selling single of the 90s. It features on his album “River of Dreams,” which received a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. He lost to Whitney Houston, but this song is undeniably one of the most recognizable tracks from the era.
It topped music global music charts as critics praised the song for borrowing from the black gospel style.
7. “If I Ever Fall In Love” by Shai
Number seven on our list is from another R&B group! Shai released “If I Ever Fall In Love” in September 1992, but 1993 was its year. Globally, people resonated with the slow, seductive energy this track brings. It charted in multiple countries, spending eight weeks in the Hot 100’s number two spot.
8. “Dreamlover” by Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey released this single on her third album, which entered more hip-hop territory than her previous work. Critics praised her difficult vocal stylings on “Dreamlover,” and it was a massive international hit.
Mariah Carey selected the song’s producer with strong intentions, making sure to work with someone with an R&B background, as most of her past music leaned heavily toward pop.
9. “Ditty” by Paperboy
Rapper Paperboy followed in the footsteps of other popular hip-hop recordings by sampling James Brown for this smash hit. The song was massively popular and nominated for a Grammy award, although it lost out to a Dr. Dre single.
10. “Rump Shaker” by Wreckx-n-Effect
“Rump Shaker” is a 1990s rap masterpiece that includes samples ranging from saxophones to James Brown. A little-known fact about this track is that famous recording artist Pharrell, one of the group member’s musical apprentices, offered massive lyrical contributions.
11. “Informer” by Snow
Hailing from Canada, the reggae-influenced artist Snow brought “Informer” to the US music market. The chart-topping hit had a polarizing effect on people, and it landed on both best and worst 1990s song lists.
While some critics mocked Snow for his difficult-to-understand lyrics, others praised his uniquely fast delivery. “Informer” is one of those songs you either love or hate, and we love it.
12. “C.R.E.A.M.” by The Wu-Tang Clan
This famous hip-hop group ruled the rap scene of the 1990s, and “C.R.E.A.M.,” or “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” was no exception to the Wu-Tang Clan’s popularity. Though “C.R.E.A.M.” wasn’t a chart-topper, it is one of the best songs on Enter the Wu-Tang, according to critics around the world.
13. “Nuthin But a G-Thang” by Dr. Dre
Number thirteen on our list comes to you from the iconic Dr. Dre’s debut album “The Chronic.” The track features Snoop Dogg and had chart-topping success internationally.
“Nuthin But a G Thang” landed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and on the Rolling Stones list of the Greatest Songs of All Time. The lyrics drew some criticism, but this song’s cultural impact is clear.
14. “Lately” by Jodeci
R&B vocal group Jodeci reimagined this Stevie Wonder original and brought it to the top of the R&B and Pop Singles charts. The track is one of the group’s signature songs, defining their musical style and cultural influence.
15. “In the Still of the Night” by Boyz II Men
R&B group Boyz II Men performed this acapella cover track for a television miniseries about the Jacksons. The song was a massive global hit, topping charts with its soulful callback to ensemble vocal groups of the past.
16. “Knockin’ da Boots” by H-Town
The R&B group hits keep coming! Number sixteen on our list is one of the best-performing R&B singles of 1993. The track’s chart-topping success helped H-Town win an award that year for Best New R&B/Soul Artist.
17. “Dazzey Duks” by Duice
The tiny denim shorts that were the true star of the “Dukes of Hazzard” inspired this double-platinum hip-hop hit. Duice, the duo behind the single, were active military when they first started their career. God bless America!
18. “Boom! Shake the Room!” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Yet another great dance tune, “Boom! Shake the Room!” sampled the chorus of a 1973 hit, “Funky Worm” by the Ohio Players. Since Will Smith, who had recently gained fame from his show The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire, featured on the track, it was a hit with younger audiences and those from around the world who loved the show.
19. “Show Me Love” by Robin S.
“Show Me Love” brought house music closer to the mainstream. It topped the music charts for the R&B and Dance Club categories in the US and the UK. The track’s instrumental is one of the most recognizable from this era.
20. “A Whole New World” by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle
The 1992 Disney film “Aladdin” introduced us to this golden ballad that served as the movie’s theme song. If you can believe it, this track replaced Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” as the number-one song in the country.
21. “Insane in the Brain” by Cypress Hill
This fast-paced, wild song is perfect for getting down to in the club. “Insane in the Brain” is a perfect example of the punk and EDM scene that was prevalent in the 90s. The rapping and catchy, repetitive chorus make this song a brainworm for sure.
22. “Love Is” by Vanessa Williams and Brian Mcknight
This emotional ballad found its chart-topping success after its feature on the popular television series “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “Melrose.”
There are two radio releases for this track. The more popular release features electric guitar ramping up the passionate energy, and the second release has only a piano.
23. “I’ll Never Get Over You (Getting Over Me)” by Exposé
Female trio Exposé gave us this emotional ballad off their third studio album. The track had chart success on the Hot 100 and in the Adult Contemporary category.
24. “Whoomp! (There It Is)” by Tag Team
Tag Team released this 1990s gem and instantly saw a wave of success. It was the rap duo’s first single, and nothing they ever released in the future came close to its fame.
Aside from the multitude of media outlets that have featured the track over the years, it remains a favorite for playing during sporting events. The single’s title draws inspiration from club slang that was popular at the time in areas like Miami and Atlanta, which is Tag Team’s home city.
25. “Rhythm Is a Dancer” by SNAP!
Number twenty-five on our list comes from a German group specializing in Eurodance. This single topped international music charts and is synonymous to this day with early 1990s dance music.
26. “Saving Forever For You” by Shanice
Recording artist Shanice performed this love ballad for “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Music critics have called the song “sugary,” which I believe was a compliment in 1993.
27. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers
This song is another legendary 1990s hit. The world fell in love with this track, which the band released in 1988, though it didn’t find success until 1993 when it was on the soundtrack for the American film “Benny & Joon” starring Johnny Depp.
28. “That’s the Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson
The world celebrated when Janet Jackson blessed us with this sultry, soulful smash hit. She won a Grammy award for the single, as well as other awards, and it became one of her signature recordings.
Many other R&B and pop recording artists refer to this song as influencing their work. Janet Jackson was vital to the song’s architecture by selecting the original instrumental track and writing most of the (very sexy) lyrics.
29. “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors
Nominated for a Grammy award, “Two Princes” is an alternative rock single that took the 90s by storm. The world recognizes this track as an American classic.
The song received high praise from music critics, but similar to “Informer” lists for both the best and worst rock songs of the 1990s feature it.
30. “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
This alternative rock single found global success and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Song. Dave Pirner, the band’s leader, wrote the lyrics by drawing inspiration from his struggles with depression. The song’s music video is famous for highlighting the homeless youth crisis in America.
31. “Mr. Wendal” by Arrested Development
Rap group Arrested Development made its debut with this track, making hip-hop music charts internationally. The song received critical acclaim for drawing attention to racial tension and the Black American struggle, without sacrificing the danceable funk beats popular at the time.
32. “Have I Told You Lately” by Rod Stewart
Rod Stewart’s version of this Van Morrison original found global success, winning a Grammy award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. Critics call the original recording one of the best love songs of all time, and Rod Stewart’s recording captured all of our hearts.
33. “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran
Brace yourselves, another power ballad is coming your way! Soft rock group Duran Duran released “Ordinary World” and it immediately reached the musical charts. The track’s success revived the group’s popularity.
34. “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
In true Whitney Houston fashion, this powerful soul ballad was a smash hit. It topped the R&B Singles and Adult Contemporary music charts, breaking records by making her the first recording artist to have three hits in the Top 11 spots at once.
Whitney Houston won multiple awards for her vocal performance on this track, and it has been in countless films and television series since its release.
35. “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf
Closing out our list, this iconic power ballad took over the world in 1993. It was an international best-seller that resonated with the early 90s culture. Famously, Meat Loaf never revealed the “that” the lyrics allude to. To this day, what he won’t do for love remains a mystery.
Top Songs From 1993, Final Thoughts
1993 was a time for love songs, dance numbers, and emerging mainstream hip-hop culture. Famous recording artists solidified their industry status and newcomers found exciting success.
If you ever feel nostalgic for bare midriffs, velvet, plaid, or platform shoes, these top songs from 1993 will get you feeling the groove again.