Re-living the 90s: My favourite songs from 1990

Dick Clark once said: “Music is the soundtrack to your life

That statement, for sure, holds true for my life.

I was born in 1982, but growing up in Bahrain in the 1980s, me and my older brother were more interested in cartoons about transforming robots, transforming automobiles and transforming jets. Not Michael Jackson or 80’s hair metal. It wasn’t until I grew into the next decade that my interest in music slowly started to grow.

I remember my brother getting a tiny Black & Decker radio which my dad won at some company party, and that pretty much became our introduction to the music broadcast over Bahrain’s airwaves (mostly Radio  Bahrain 96.5fm). Since the radio, we moved up to a Sony hi-fi system, got cable, and then as the internet became a part of my adult life, I ended up listening to so much music that I link moments of my life to the songs from that period.

For the past few months on my Facebook profile, I’ve been sharing songs I grew up listening to under the ‘Re-living the 90s’ headline. It was pretty well received by my friends who, like me, reminisced about the music and went: “Man, I haven’t heard this ages!”.

So, this is the first of 10 posts. One post for every year of the decade that was the 1990s.

Now, these songs weren’t necessarily the top songs of the 90s, best, or even the greatest songs of the 90s — but yeah, they surely were big hits from the 1990s.  I’m including them in my selection because I remember them as “favourites”.

So here we go:

NKOTB Vanilla Ice Cathy Dennis MC Hammer Maxi Priest 1990s chart music
All of these guys (yes, even those pants) were cool... back in 1990

New Kids on the Block – “Step by Step”

In 1990, I was 8 years old. NKOTB was my favourite group at the time. Why? I don’t know, maybe it was because their songs were simple, catchy pop songs — or I thought their dancing was “SO AWESOME” at the time. They even had their own cartoon I used to watch. Whatever it was, I had their cassette tapes… and I loved songs like “Right Stuff” and “Hangin’ Tough” as a kid.

The last NKOTB song I heard was “Dirty Dawg (1993-94),” their attempt to break away from the cheesy pop that made them famous. It wasn’t a huge hit and NKOTB eventually broke up after that. Jordan Kinght and Joey McIntyre came back to the music scene in the late 90s and in 2008, NKOTB re-emerged with a new album and tour. But as I grew up in the 1990s with the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, I now realize how much more vocally talented those two boy bands were compared to NKOTB.

DNA feat. Suzanne Vega – “Tom’s Diner”

Do you know that song that goes: “D0-do-doodeh, do-dodeh-do, do-de-do-do, do-dedo-do…” Yeah, that’s how I used to remember this song 🙂

Maxi Priest – “Close To You”

Maxi Priest‘s biggest hit. He also did a decent reggae cover of “Wild World“.

Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby”

The 1990s saw rap hit the mainstream. Unfortunately, it was through rap hits like this:

I was among the millions back then who loved this song! I have a fond memory of when we first got our Sony hi-fi stereo (with karaoke mic!) and my older brother rapped the lines while I was snuggled in excitement on our living room sofa. Oh the things that excited me back then.

Now I’m among the millions who laugh at the guy whose real name is Robert Van Winkle 🙂

MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This”

Besides Vanilla Ice, the other laughing stock of early 90s pop rap was MC Hammer. Once again, everybody loved him when he was a chart-topping success. He too had a cartoon, Hammer Man. He lived the high life, bought a multi-million dollar home, a Ferrari — and then his career fizzled out after his second album, ‘Too Legit to Quit’. Then he went bankrupt. He’s still around though.

Cathy Dennis – “Too Many Walls”

Her biggest hit — and probably the only song of hers I remember. She didn’t last too long in the public eye as a pop star. Most of you may have never heard of Cathy Dennis, but if you heard songs by S Club 7, or number 1 hits like Kylie Minogue’s  “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” “Toxic” by Britney Spears, or Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” that’s all Cathy Dennis. She wrote those hits.

So that’s all for the inaugural post in this series. I know it’s not a lot of songs, but I was only going on 8 then.

Cartoons were still a bigger priority for me.

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  • gren


    Excellent Post

  • dave@90ssongs


    I had completely forgotten about Cathy Dennis and Too Many Walls. I love love love this song.

    Now I need to go to iTunes to buy it!

    Just looked and it only charted at #17 in the UK


  • Sassiella


    I don’t remember “Too Many Walls” being a big hit for Cathy Dennis in the United States. Bahrain must have been a different story. The only song I remember from her at all is “Touch Me All Night Long” which hit #1 on the dance charts in 1991. She also performed it on a episode of 90210. This post is about your own personal recollections, of course, but also a reminder that singers and groups can be known because of different songs in different countries.

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