The Best, Most Shameless Hits of the 1990s: Rounded Up By Childhood BFFs

When you’ve been best friends with someone since the fourth grade, you obviously have an endless bank of things to talk about.

Take my pal Simon and I – kindred spirits since I was the new kid who arrived in a progressive Winnie The Pooh-themed outfit, and since his tetherball reign tormented the playground.

Simon and I can talk about our innocent childhood, raucous high school parties, attending universities in the same city and now living five minutes away from each other as adults in Toronto.

Yet, us two music lovers obviously have a penchant for reminiscing about the songs we grew up with. The constant hip-hop we traded back and forth, indie gems, guilty pop pleasures and (a surprising amount of)… shameless hits from the 90s. Sure, we all remember Jimmy Ray and Aqua. But, we’re talking mainstream, mildly embarrassing, yet almost good alternative hits that we still can’t get out of our heads. Songs that are just too legit to quit, and that would have our vote for a 2015 remastering.

Although he now works in sports broadcasting, I’ve brought Simon in to help me round up the special radio-rock hits that have shamelessly made it from our Walkmans to iTunes. We think the quality of these music videos speak for themselves…



 5. Mr. Jones – Counting Crows: “One of the all-time best karaoke songs. Ever. And if you disagree, I’ll likely fight you about it. I feel like this band could only ever succeed in the 90s – the sound is just perfect for the decade. Plus, the lead singer, Adam Duritz, had (has?) really interesting dreadlocks. I’m not sure that’s a particularly 90s thing, but just wanted to point it out.”

4. Glycerine – Bush: “The cello in this song, guys. THE CELLO! It takes this tune from “pretty solid” to “absolutely epic power ballad.” As an aside, let’s talk about the romance between Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale and No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani (who totally could have made this list as well). According to the internet, the two met in 1995 when No Doubt was opening for Bush (on the most 90’s double bill ever). That means their relationship blossomed while both were at the height of their popularity. My point is, these two were Jay-Z and Beyonce a decade before Jay-Z and Beyonce were a thing. Not nearly enough people talk about this.”

3. Black Hole Sun – Soundgarden: “One of the benefits of growing up with an older brother is that they introduce you to great (…and also sometimes terrible) music at an early age. I was six years-old when this song came out. That’s probably too young to appreciate it, or know what it was about, or know that it was a staple of a hugely important and short-lived genre. All I knew about the song back then were the two things I still know about it today: that it kicks major ass, and that the video really creeps me out.”

2. Flagpole Sitta – Harvey Danger: “My Grade 9 band covered this song, because we thought it was great… and that was about seven years after it was released. One hit wonder? Sure. But it’s catchy as hell, great to sing along to (who doesn’t yell the “paranoia, paranoia…” part) and screams 90s. They may not have had another hit in their entire career, but at least Harvey Danger blessed us with this gem.”

1. Drinking in L.A. – Bran Van 3000: “‘Hi, my name is Stereo Mike.’ That’s how this song starts, and I don’t know—nor have I ever known—what that means. But then the crunchy drum pattern kicks in and I don’t really care. This song is awesome, and just takes me immediately back to the 90s. Also, I now can totally relate to the song, finally. As a 26 year-old, I’ve caught myself thinking “what the hell am I doing drinking here?” a half dozen times. Well played, Bran Van 3000. You guys are pretty much fortune tellers.”



5. Who Will Save Your Soul – Jewel: “If you think for a damn second that you didn’t appreciate this breathy Alaskan beauty and her sassy musical poetry, you are fooling yourself. In an era weighed down by lady-led bubblegum pop, the gals of Women & Songs and Lillith Fair were what “girl power” meant to me at the ripe age of eight. Also, when I broke my arm at art camp (we’re still unsure how that happens at art camp) – my Dad bought me a penguin beanie baby and the Pieces of You cassette. #blessed”

4. Got You Where I Want You – The Flys: “Appearing on the Disturbing Behavior soundtrack, this chugging one-hit-wonder is chock full of stupidly simplistic, basically absurd lyrics, a tiny reggae breakdown (why not?) and a music video that stars a spaghetti-strap-clad Katie Holmes (circa her Dawson’s Creek days). Tell me what’s more deliciously nineties than that?”

3. Everything to Everyone – Everclear: “I feel like Everclear were tipped off on how to “turn up” 20 years before that was a thing – because this song is a JAM and a half. Although this was released when I wasn’t even really old enough to walk to the corner store without my brother, I popped this single (enough said) into my Discman and strutted. my. stuff (around the living room) to these punky guitars and major percussion.”

2. How’s It Going To Be? – Third Eye Blind: “Any TEB song could have topped this list, because they ruled the late 90s, but this epic break-up ballad was just a little bit life changing. I didn’t actually experience a break-up until a solid decade after this was released, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t sense the pain in (megababe) Stephan Jenkins’ howl as my brother and I crushed marathon games of 21 in the driveway. I still can’t hear this classic and not belt every word with conviction. (As evidenced by Kaylee and I screaming along in the middle of a quiet pizzeria last summer.) Oh, and PS – Jenkins is now 50. I’m just going to leave that there to sink in.”

1. Bittersweet Symphony –The Verve: “Alas, my number one, and likely many others’ who have rounded up 90s alt-rock one-(or two)-hit-wonders. Whether the MuchMusic video countdown introduced you to lead singer Richard Ashcroft’s casually impolite swagger down busy London sidewalks, or you heard it through the classic final scene in Cruel Intentions – there’s no denying the widespread reaction those opening violins get. The whole thing is pure gold, and to this day, few songs make me want to pursue world (or sidewalk) domination more.”

SIMON’s Honourable Mentions:  “Interstate Love Song” – Stone Temple Pilots, “Remote Control” – Age of Electric, “Money City Maniacs” – Sloan, “Lump” – Presidents of the United States of America, “Naveed” – Our Lady Peace, “Closing Time” – Semisonic, “Where It’s At” – Beck, “Longview” – Green Day, “The Way” – Fastball, “Today” – The Smashing Pumpkins.

JESS’s Honourable Mentions: “Lump” – Presidents of the United States, “Heaven Coming Down” – The Tea Party, “Take A Picture” – Filter, “My Own Worst Enemy” – Lit, “Blown Wide Open” – Big Wreck, “If You Could Only See” – Tonic, “1979” – Smashing Pumpkins, “Lovefool” – The Cardigans, “Praise You” – Fatboy Slim, “Hand in my Pocket” – Alanis Morrisette

What shameless 1990s hits did you love? Tell us in the comments!





  1. Crew says:

    I love the lists guys! You’ve hit some good alternative tracks but I’d like to hear your opinions on the best middle school pump up songs. What songs did you listen to to get psyched for your grade 5 track meets or Knights of Columbus games?

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