Nineties Number Ones

Moving from a year packed with great music, as 1966 was, to any year is going to be difficult – even moving to a whole decade – so don’t be too hard on the Nineties, will you?

Your favourite chart-topping singles from the decade that gave us boy bands, girl bands and Beatles cover bands performing original music today, please. They can come from any country and any chart, but they must have reached No 1.

Here’s Jimmy Nail and the grammatically-incorrect ‘Ain’t No Doubt’. It spent three weeks atop the UK Top 40 in July 1992, and Guy Pratt had quite a lot to do with it.

I’ll just list five.

I should point out that the reduction from my usual roll of ten has nothing to do with the most commercially-successful songs of the Nineties being a bit naff on the whole and not wanting to admit to liking them, less still buying them and still knowing most of the words to them. It’s because I’m told that I list too many and therefore make it difficult for others to think of different ones to add. Honest.

The following tracks topped the UK singles chart. The ones I haven’t listed can be found here, should you find them useful. Re-releases from previous, and perhaps better, decades are not included (sorry, Righteous Brothers); neither is ‘Turtle Power’ by Partners in Kryme, The Simpsons’ ‘Do The Bartman’ or Mr Blobby’s eponymous, Meatloaf-mashing festive ditty.

– Adamski, ‘Killer’
– Blur, ‘Beetlebum’
– Michael Jackson, ‘Earth Song’
– No Doubt, ‘Don’t Speak’
– The Verve, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

65 thoughts on “Nineties Number Ones”

  1. Steve Miller – The Joker
    Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way
    Oasis – Some Might Say and Don’t Look Back In Anger
    Michael Jackson – Earth Song… nice Bass playing as well

    I had to skip through the list pretty quickly before I started to hum a few… Whigfield – Saturday Night, Mr Blobby… my head is starting to hurt.

    Great Result on Sunday!!!

    1. Isn’t it worrying when you realise that you know most of them, Paul?

      And isn’t it nice to see controversial decisions going against United for a change?

    2. Steve Miller Band The Joker? That song was released in back in 1973. So I did some checking. Apparently due to a commercial for Levi’s the song went back on the charts in 1990 and reached #1. Go figure.

      I know that Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody had a similar comeback due to the popularity of the movie Wayne’s World.



  2. Hi Fed!

    These are the songs I remember most, I was a child… very fond memories.

    The best album of the nineties will always be “The Division Bell” for me.

    – Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2U
    – Annie Lennox – Why
    – Sting and Eric Clapton – It’s Probably Me
    – Freddie Mercury – Living On My Own
    – Yossou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry – 7 Seconds
    – Annie Lennox – No More I Love Yous
    – Everything But The Girl – Missing
    – Robert Miles – Children
    – Bon Jovi – Queen of New Orleans
    – Oasis – Wonderwall
    – Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger
    – Oasis – Cast No Shadow
    – The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
    – Madonna – The Power of Goodbye
    – The Verve – Sonnet

    This is off topic Fed.

    I’m going to attend “Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck Concert” on the 14th of February, it is supposed to be a great gig. Does anybody attend the show? I’d like to meet you and drink a beer together.

    David, I hope you are very very well and I’d like to invite you for a beer if you’re in London that night!


    1. Speaking of Eric Clapton…

      ‘Tears In Heaven’ spent three weeks at No 1 in the US (on the Adult Contemporary chart).

  3. Wow – I always remembered the 90s as having some great music… I guess the #1s and my tastes were very different. 8|

    In any case, after dusting off some cobwebs and getting over the fact that 1990 was… 19 years ago!?!

    Here’s my list of 10 in order of years:

    1990: Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U (US & UK, it still gets to me)
    1990: Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby (US, what crap but still funny)
    1991: EMF – Unbelievable (US… gotta love that cow bell)
    1991: Enigma – Sadeness Part I (UK, one of my favorite “chill” bands)
    1991: Salt-n-Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex (Austria, come on you know all the words… admit it)
    1992: Die Fantastichen Vier – Die da (Austria, worth a listen if you don’t know it 😮 )
    1992: Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy (US, for getting fat men everywhere to show off their beer gut… wait I shouldn’t be thanking)
    1995: Shaggy – Boombastic (UK, lots of memories with this one…)
    1999: Chef (South Park, Issac Hayes) – Chocolate Salty Balls P.S. I Love You (UK, I always knew the UK had good taste)
    1999: Santana w/Rob Thomas – Smooth (US, just a great track)

    You were right FEd… way too much crap at #1 during that decade all over the world…

    Cheers! Hope to see you all in the chat…

    1. Whatever happened to EMF?

      I had to check what kept them off the top spot in the UK (‘Unbelievable’ only made it to No 3 in November 1990).

      It was the Righteous Brothers and ‘Unchained Melody’.

    1. Matt, great shout.

      Would you believe that both missed out on No 1 in the UK, peaking at No 2 and No 4 respectively? Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’ kept ‘Free as a Bird’ from topping the chart. Ah, I remember being very torn that year, back when what was the Christmas No 1 mattered much more than it should have done.

  4. The Manic Street Preachers – If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

    Madonna – Frozen with Patrick Leonard

  5. Before I add my list let me congratulate John Cleese who turned 70 today… He has not ceased to be, he has not expired, neither gone on to meet his maker and he is not an ex-Cleese.

    And now for something completely different:

    My list consists of exactly 2 songs and I’d agree it was a bad decade if not all of my three children weren’t born then: 😉

    The Steve Miller Band – The Joker
    The Clash – Should I Stay Or Should I Go


  6. Travis – Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
    Manics – Design For Life

    Not sure if they were No1s but they were good songs.

  7. fed, i love the 90s! i was still buying singles then, so there are lots of memories for me in these tunes. 😀

    my favourites:

    beats international feat. lindy layton – dub be good to me
    chesney hawkes – (i am) the one and only
    bryan adams – (everything i do) i do it for you
    the bluebells – young at heart
    jazzy jeff and the fresh prince – boom! shake the room
    take that – babe
    d:ream – things can only get better
    wet wet wet – love is all around
    r. kelly – i believe i can fly
    cornershop – brimful of asha

    thanks for the link to all the 90s numbers ones. reading through them brought back lots of happy memories for me and my workmates today. we’ve been singing along to the videos on youtube. i haven’t enjoyed work so much in ages, lol.

    i think you must be about the same age as me if you know the words to these songs. which is your favourite from my list and do you know all the words?

    1. Do I know all the words? Of course I do. I still get the urge to say “Tank-Fly-Boss-Walk-Jam-Nitty-gritty, you’re listening to the boy from the big, bad city – this is jam hot” from time to time. But then, doesn’t everyone?

      I really couldn’t choose a favourite from that lot (Chesney Hawkes).

  8. Thank you for the link, FEd.

    My school years are very connected to the 90s music, so I enjoyed very much reading all those titles again. It was the same of looking at my picture album. 🙂

    My list.

    The Offspring – Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)
    Tori Amos – Professional Widow
    Madonna – Frozen
    Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U
    Michael Jackson – Black Or White
    Ace Of Base – All That She Wants
    Stiltskin – Inside
    The Prodigy – Firestarter

    I’d also add Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to my list, but I’m not sure it reached the first position somewhere. I have to search the web to know it.

    1. The Offspring were such a great band, I particularly loved their releases Smash and Americana.

      Come Out and Play did reach number 1 in the U.S. and another fun song of theirs was Self-Esteem. That one did reach number 1 in some countries but not in the U.S. or the U.K.

      Smells Like Teen Spirit did reach number 1 on the U.S. charts. But Weird Al Yankovic’s parody “Smells Like Nirvana” only got as high as number 12 on the U.S. charts.



    2. I also like those two albums very much.

      The Offspring reminds me of Bad Religion. Do you know them? “Stranger Than Fiction” and “The Gray Race” are my favourite albums, both released in the 90s, by the way.

      I searched the web for the parody of “Smells”. It’s great when the head of the guy in the audience comes off and rolls away. :))

  9. NOOOOO! Help!!! I read ‘Céline Dion’ at least three times on your list. What a nightmare! 😛

    – Nirvana, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’

    – Bruce Springsteen, ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’

    – Here, ‘High Hopes’ was number 1 in 94. Perfect.

    – Less perfect, totally silly, even, another number 1 here was Lagaf, ‘Bo, Le Lavabo’. 😕

    1. Oh, that’s awful.

      I’m kicking myself for forgetting ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’, which was No 1 in Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Norway, apparently.

    2. Michèle,

      I love Streets of Philadelphia!

      My two other favourites are:

      1. Blur – Country House
      2. Creed – Higher

      Cath x

  10. I love the “Keep Talking” single by Pink Floyd, released on 10 October, 1994. This was the first single to be released from The Division Bell album and was written by David Gilmour, Richard Wright and Polly Samson. It was the group’s third #1 hit on the Album Rock Tracks chart (a chart published by Billboard magazine which measures radio play in the USA, and is not a measure of record sales), staying atop for six weeks.

    My favorite song from The Division Bell is I must admit is “High Hopes”. Its lyrics speak of the things one may have gained and lost in life, written from an autobiographical angle by Mr. Gilmour. It always reminds me how to enjoy the now, and that it’s not those who live with the most toys that win in life, but it’s those whose live with the least to regret. Running before time takes our dreams away.

    The Division Bell is the final studio album by Pink Floyd, released in 1994. This release marks the first time Richard Wright had sung lead vocals on a Pink Floyd album since 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon, and it also marks his first song-writing credit on a Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here.

    The Division Bell album was the band’s best since their 1975 release Wish You Were Here. It went to No.1 in the UK and debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200 album charts in April 1994, spending four weeks as the top album in the country.

  11. Off the top of my head:

    Guns and Roses – You Could Be Mine
    Air – Kelly Watch The Stars
    Air – La Femme D’Argent – Air (in fact, the whole of “Moon Safari”)
    The Wonderstuff – The Size of a Cow
    Corduroy – Chowdown (again, whole of “Dad Man Cat”)
    Dee Lite – Groove Is In The Heart
    Chemical Brothers – Leave Home

    That should do for now… more as they hit me. 🙂


    1. Firstly, I’m so glad that you mentioned Dee-Lite with that crazy slide whistle. That’s a classic.

      I had to check on Guns N’ Roses and how they fared in the UK, because they seemed to have many UK Top Ten singles, but surprisingly (or not) none of them made No 1. Shame.

      You Could Be Mine (July 1991) – #3
      Don’t Cry (September 1991) – #8
      Live and Let Die (December 1991) – #5
      November Rain (March 1992) – #4
      Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (May 1992) – #2
      Yesterdays/November Rain (November 1992 – #8
      Ain’t It Fun (November 1993) – #9
      Since I Don’t Have You (June 1994) – #10
      Sympathy For the Devil (January 1995) – #9

  12. Something more from Billboard (Hot 100, Album Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks).

    No Rain – Blind Melon
    Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
    Livin’ On The Edge – Aerosmith
    More Than Words – Extreme
    Loser – Beck
    To Be With You – Mr. Big
    Zombie – Cranberries
    Give It Away – RHCP

    I searched the web for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It reached number one in Billboard Modern Rock Tracks more than in French and New Zealand singles charts.

    Maybe it’s better if I stop here, because I could go on for hours adding songs to my list. 😀

    1. Great list, Alessandra.

      Do you remember these? I’m surprised that none of them topped any well-known singles chart, as they’re certainly better than most of the songs that did.

      – Garbage, ‘Stupid Girl’ – #4 (UK)
      No 2 on US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks

      – Green Day, ‘Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)’ – #11 (UK)
      No 2 on US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and in Australian Top 40

      – Pearl Jam, ‘Jeremy’ – #15 (UK)
      No 5 on US Mainstream Rock Tracks and US Modern Rock Tracks

    2. “Stupid Girl” is the only track I couldn’t remember before listening to it again.

      That Green Day’s one is a good song and I still like it today, but Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” is absolutely one of my favourite 90s songs. It should have deserved the first position, really, along with Soungarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, but I read in Bruce’s comment that it also never reached #1.

      And do you remember Skunk Anansie’s “Hedonism” and Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray”? I think they were both good songs, but they also never reached number one in any chart.

      I was also thinking that Leonard Cohen’s album “The Future” was released in 1992. I think it’s my second favourite 90s album, after “Division Bell”. 🙂

    3. And do you remember Skunk Anansie’s “Hedonism” and Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray”?

      Two more good ones. I liked the Lemonheads’ version of ‘Mrs Robinson’ best, which just about made the UK Top 20.

      How about these?

      – Counting Crows, ‘Mr Jones’ – #28 (UK)
      No 3 on US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks

      – REM, ‘Everybody Hurts’ – #7 (UK)
      No 3 in France

      – Weezer, ‘Buddy Holly’ – #12 (UK)
      No 2 on US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks

    4. Mr Jones! It was a lot of time that I didn’t listen to that one, but it came out from my memory again as soon as I read its title. I really loved it.

      The same for Weezer’s one. They did a video using some scenes from “Happy Days”, or am I going wrong?

      R.E.M. are still one of my favourite bands, I never stopped listening to them.

      These will be the last ones I add, I swear. 😛

      Ava Adore – Smashing Pumpkins (“Perfect” was also a good song in my opinion)

      Two Princes – Spin Doctors

      I think none of these reached the first position, but I liked them.

    5. Add as many as you like, they’re taking me back to happier times. :))

      You’re right about Weezer – here’s the video.

      Here are two more for you:

      – Crash Test Dummies, ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm’ – #2 (UK)
      No 1 in Australia

      – Stone Temple Pilots, ‘Plush’ – #23 (UK)
      No 1 on US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks

    6. they’re taking me back to happier times. :))

      The same for me… to the times when I could spend entire afternoons watching videos on MTV with my friends, instead of doing homework. :))

      Speaking about Stone Temple Pilots, I also liked “Creep”. It reached #2 in Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks U.S.

      And what about Alice in Chains “Down in a Hole”? I loved that song and I still remember the video, but it only reached #10 in Billboard.

      Then, there was that strange song with an even stranger video, Sonic Youth’s “Bull in the Heather”. Here it is.

      I could never decide if I liked it or not, but it surely caught my imagination. I still find it quite disturbing, I don’t know why.

      Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” was a song I loved, instead. It reached #1 in Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks U.S.

  13. Metallica – Enter Sandman
    REM – Losing my Religion
    Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
    Bonnie Raitt – Something to Talk About
    Barenaked Ladies – One Week
    Pink Floyd – Coming Back to Life
    Pearl Jam – Alive
    Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun
    Nirvana – Come as You Are
    Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

    The Division Bell is my favorite Album of the 90s followed by Metallica Black Album and Nirvana Nevermind.

    Contrary to what’s been said on here, the US had some kick ass albums and artists in the 90s. It’s all according to the type of music you listened to, though.

    1. Bruce, would you believe that ‘Black Hole Sun’ peaked at #12 in the UK?

      That was around the time that Wet Wet Wet kept hogging the top spot with ‘Love Is All Around’ – for 15 long, depressing weeks.

      There’s another re-make, if not re-release, for the purpose of a movie: Four Weddings and a Funeral. And what a repulsive movie it was.

    2. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun: Quite a Floydish one… I remember getting confused when I heard it on the radio (which I stopped doing three years ago).


    3. And what a repulsive movie it was.

      LOL, I hated it too.

      Good list Bruce, but you forgot Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Under The Bridge (#1 in Australia).

      It was released twice in the UK, but still only reached #13. WTF?

    4. Well remembered, JJ. We shouldn’t have forgotten that one.

      Green Day’s ‘Basket Case’ is another that needed to be re-issued in the UK to improve on its original position:

      #55 in 1994, #7 in 1995.

  14. OK, this is my list – which actually I found quite difficult, especially later on in the nineties.

    How could I leave out ‘Three Lions’? Probably the best football song ever made. Although I was tempted to put in ‘World in Motion’.

    I can say I was not really into ‘pop’ music back in the early early nineties, I was listening to my parents old Beatles vinyl and *cough* erm, Cliff Richard.

    But I have gone through a list of singles and picked the ones I like most now – and the ones I will admit to buying a little later in the 90s.

    Beats International, Dub Be Good To Me – 1990
    George Michael & Elton John, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – 1991
    Charles and Eddy, Would I Lie To You -1992
    Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – 1993
    d:ream, Things Can Only Get Better – 1994
    Oasis, Some Might Say – 1995
    Prodigy, Breathe – 1996
    Olive, You’re Not Alone – 1997
    Manic Street Preachers, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next – 1998
    ATB, 9PM (Till I Come) – 1999

    1. How could I leave out ‘Three Lions’? Probably the best football song ever made. Although I was tempted to put in ‘World in Motion’.

      ‘World in Motion’ for me, just for the John Barnes rap.

      And was there ever a better World Cup than Italia 1990?

      Which reminds me, whatever kept ‘Nessun Dorma’ off the top spot (in the UK) had better be damn good.

    2. bugger, i forgot you’re welsh – probably revelled in our semi final defeat – go on, admit it, you willed gazza into that challenge didn’t you – you were probably behind the goal putting stuart pearce off.

    3. Actually, I didn’t. I loved Gazza and felt sorry for him. Besides, the England team weren’t quite such precious darlings back then (or they didn’t seem to be to me, anyway).

      Now I thoroughly enjoy seeing England lose, partly because I like to see the smug buggers looking miserable, but mostly because it means a welcome break from the fickle media love-fest (breaking news: David Beckham, God bless him, has just had his hair cut). And it’s quite good fun counting how many times pathetic journalists and pundits disgrace themselves by shamefully harking back to victories in World War II and the Falklands just to make the country feel good about itself again.

      That and tallying up the inevitable references to 1966 and wondering where Geoff Hurst is going to pop up next. 😉

  15. Here’s a few other #1s from the 90s…

    I Wish It Would Rain Down – Phil Collins (#1 Canada)
    Killer – Adamski & Seal (#1 UK)
    Stay – Shakespeare’s Sister (#1 UK)
    Sleeping Satellite – Tasmin Archer (#1 UK)
    Torn – Natalie Imbruglia (#1 Belgium, Latvia, Mexico, Serbia, Sweden & US)
    Tubthumping – Chumbawamba (#1 Italy)
    You Learn – Alanis Morissette (#1 Canada)

    Not my favourite musical decade, too much schmaltz for my liking.

    The best thing to come out of the 90s were The Division Bell, of course, and Richard’s Broken China.

    WTF, I’ll even give Amused To Death an honourable mention too.

  16. Here’s one for you FEd. For 2 weeks in ’94, at the # 1 spot in the UK:

    “Come on You Reds” by the Man Utd football squad.

  17. “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” Puff Daddy, featuring Mase (#1, US Billboard 100 in 1997)

    1. It was one of the best albums, too: three singles off Urban Hymns made the UK Top Ten.

      ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ (June 1997) – #2
      ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ (September 1997) – #1
      ‘Lucky Man’ (December 1997) – #7

      I don’t know why ‘Sonnet’ bombed, though. I think it’s a great tune.

      “Sinking faster than a boat without a hull, my Lord…”

  18. Well, I thought the 90s was a GREAT decade for music. I liked almost all the music.

    Bjork was my most favourite though.

  19. My 90s favs – anyone paying attention will probably not care that I continue with one per year from the UK #1s just for the hell of it

    1990 – Adamski, “Killer”
    1991 – Queen, “Innuendo”
    1992 – Tasmin Archer, “Sleeping Satellite”
    1993 – Pass 8|
    1994 – Stiltskin, “Inside”
    1995 – Blur, “Country House”
    1996 – Deep Blue Something, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (just about)
    1997 – The Verve, “The Drugs Don’t Work”
    1998 – The Manics, “If You Tolerate This…”
    1999 – Robbie Williams, “She’s the One”

    Well, I think at least they’re all there on my iPod somewhere…

    1. I was never a big Robbie Williams fan but I do like his song and video for Rock DJ. That song did reach #1 but it did it in 2000.

      I’m told that the video for that song was banned in the UK. True? Yet the song also went to #1 in the UK.



    2. Considered it F’ed but Meatloaf never did it for me and that wasn’t one of his better efforts IMHO.

      Don’t really like to pass but I can’t put my name to any of those…

  20. I don’t know what the actual hits were in the 1990s (and I’m scared to google it :)), but some of my hits included PF’s Marooned, Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Born With a Broken Heart, Tonic’s Open Up Your Eyes, Santana’s Put Your Lights On (with Everlast), Cheryl Crow’s Redemption Day, the Arcangel’s Living in a Dream, Marc Cohn’s Walking in Memphis, Joan Osborne’s Man in the Long Black Coat, Shawn Colvin’s Sunny Came Home, the Eurythmics’ Would I Lie To You? and Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U (and the thousand others that I can’t think of at the moment).

  21. my favorite songs are of course a division bell album: coming back to life, marooned (best instrumental song, 1994), high hopes (best lap steel solo).

    metallica: nothing else matters
    gary moore: parisian walkway
    nirvana: come as you are

    and my favorite show is: pulse.

    david is great.

  22. The best 1990s song for me so far is No Doubt’s Don’t Speak. Up until now, I still love that song! No Doubt Rocks!

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