When I was 13 years old, the radio was my enemy.
It was a device that brought hours and hours of joy to my older sister, Shay. The sounds that echoed for the box in her room fueled topics for her phone conversations. Her emotions would change depending on what K97.1 or 101.1 Jams was playing at the time. The genres of hip-hop, rap and pop made her dance and kept her in style.
Then R&B and soul music would make her talk about her latest crush. Occasionally Shay would play other types of acoustics like country music and rock ’n’ roll.
It was a couple of years later I finally realized why my sister connected so much with all that music. My ear started to connect with lyrics, beats, rhythms and the soul of the artist.
K-Ci and Jojo’s “How Could You” was the first song I learned all the words. Over the years I have developed an eclectic taste, loving several forms of music.
The landscape of music changed forever 25 years ago. The year in music had so m
any identifying factors from veterans making a comeback to young, new artists hitting the scene.
Established artists in their prime delivered hits and made songs that are today classics. The Billboard Top 100 saw all genres take a turn at the top. It was hard just to find my top 10 list of the most impactful songs of 1994.
The Best Sellers’ List is going back down memory to rank the 10 songs I feel had the biggest impact on music today, are certified classics and that I will still play on my car radio through my cell phone.
Here are the honorable mentions: Ace of Base “The Sign,” Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love to You,” All-4-One “I Swear,” Celine Dion “The Power of Love,” Mariah Carey “Hero,” Toni Braxton “Breathe Again,” Salt-N-Pepa “Whatta Man,” Elton John “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” Prince “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” Coolio “Fantastic Voyage,” Da Brat “Funkdafied,” Snoop Doggy Dogg “Gin and Juice,” Bruce Springsteen “Streets of Philadelphia,” Aaron Hall “I Miss You,” Xscape “Understanding,” Craig Mack “Flava in Ya Ear,” Queen Latifah “U.N.I.T.Y.,” Ahmad “Back in the Day,” Brandy “I Wanna Be Down –Remix,” The Notorious B.I.G. “Juicy” and Tupac Shakur “Pain.”
10. Tevin Campbell “Always in My Heart”
One of those young artists taking over the music scene in 1994 was Tevin Campbell. He had a few hits hit the charts that year as a 17- and 18-year-old. His best vocal work came on the song “Always in My Heart from the album “I’m Ready.” This song is 5 minutes and 31 seconds of a pure inside look at a teenager’s dilemma when in love. The greatest song writer of my generation, Babyface, penned this classic, and Daryl Simmons was a co-writer and composer on the hit.
It works as a breakup song or serves as a way to declare to your crush, “I am the one for you.”
9. Aerosmith “Crazy,” “Amazing” and “Cryin”
The holy trilogy of one of the greatest comebacks in music history started in 1993. By the time “Crazy” was released by Aerosmith in 1994, America was in love with a young actress from the three music videos, Alicia Silverstone. And the country quickly realized the legendary rock band had plenty of hit-making power left.
Here comes the criticism of the three songs: “They all sound the same.” I counter that with, “If it ain’t broke, why are we trying to fix it?”
“Cryin” was featured on the “Get a Grip” album being released in 1993. Then it was time for “Amazing” off the same CD. Then in May 1994 the nation was hit with “Crazy.” The trio of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Desmond Child wrote their place in music history with these three great songs. And a new generation of Aerosmith fans were born.
8. Tag Team “Whoomp! There It Is”
Tag Team never really came back again after its mid-1990s hit “Whoomp! There It Is.” This song was created in 1992, released a year later and dominated the charts in 1994.
This song made my countdown because it is a prime example of the dance hip hop of that era. Groups like Tag Team and the Quad City DJs kept pumping out dance hits for the club, children’s parties and even weddings.
Anybody 35-years or older knows what “Whoomp!” means and will get the song stuck in their head quickly.
7. Sheryl Crow “All I Wanna Do”
Pop quiz! What song dominated at the Grammy Awards that year. OK, stop cheating and looking at the subhead. Sheryl Crow took home the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
This is a fun song to listen to and gives any gathering a wholesome boost. It’s the perfect song to precede “Whoomp! There It Is.”
Crow’s album “Tuesday Night Music Club” dominated the charts throughout 1993 and 1994. And the certified classic off the CD was “All I Wanna Do.” It will always be Crow’s career-defining hit.
6. Crash Test Dummies “Mmm Mmm Mmm”
Confession time, I discovered this song through a Weird Al Yankovic parody that was too hilarious. To fully enjoy Weird Al’s joke, I went and watched his source material. I ended up liking the song “Mmm Mmm Mmm.”
It put me in the mind of a grunge scene at a slower pace. It was a good acoustic feel with very unique vocal styles. This song also defines that era and screams mid-’90s. This might be my favorite folk-rock song of all time. A close second is the Weird Al version.
5. Meat Loaf “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
OK, the best comeback of 1994 came like a “Bat Out of Hell 2: Back into Hell.” Meat Loaf was a rock star in the 1970s and wasn’t a stranger to movies. But he disappeared for a minute before the song “I’d Do Anything for Love” shot him back onto the scene.
The creative music video and operatic style of the song grab the attention of American by 1994. Although the piece was mocked in some circles and even won NME Award for Worst Single, many folks rediscovered Meat Loaf. And children like me wanted to get to know the beastly character in conflict with love. Jim Steinman wrote a great song and Meat Loaf gave his trademark performance to create a lasting hit.
4. Beck “Loser”
The irony of this selection in the countdown is Beck became a winner because of this song. He won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Newcomer in large part to hits like “Loser.”
The album “Mellow Gold” was golden to listen to. Beck’s alternative/Indie style introduced a new sub-genre to the music industry. His music made it cool to listen to Jewel and Bjork.
At the same time Beck had a hip hop flavor to his music that made me fall in love with later hits like “Where’s It’s At.”
3. R. Kelly “Bump N’ Grind (Remix)”
This might be a controversial pick only because of the current scandal. But if you were purely going by the music, it’s a no-brainer 1990s R. Kelly would be mentioned in any countdown reflecting on his music during his prime.
The “12 Play” album is a classic that my mom wouldn’t allow me to listen to until I was 17. And I understand why.
But “Bump N’ Grind” and the “Bump N’ Grind (Remix)” dominated the airwaves in 1993 and 1994. By the time I was 15, I knew the words to the song and even did my remix version of it as a parody.
R. Kelly was the King of the Remix and had a skill to make a great song sound even better.
2. Warren G and Nate Dogg “Regulate”
This song was the jam when I was seventh grade. It meant you were cool when you played this song. It introduced the West Coast Rap style to the masses and brought back memories of Michael McDonald for some.
I love Nate Dogg’s singing on the hook and how Warren G kept the smooth flow throughout. It was a great story told and the music video was must-see TV.
Regulate” was essential for the movie “Above the Rim” being the perfect compliment. The song was hot through the spring and summer that year and still is a jam at a party 25 years later.
“Regulate won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and earned an MTV Movie Award for Best Musical Moment. Regulate is simply one of the best things about the year 1994.
1. TLC “Waterfalls”
This song racked up several awards in 1995 and 1996. The foundation for “Waterfalls” came in 1994.
“Waterfalls” transformed TLC from a young female hip hop trio into certified mature music superstars. The thought provoking music video is still timely today and might have actually saved some lives.
A person my age might have walked away from a bad situation or had second thought as the voices of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tiona “T Boz” Watkins echoed through their soul.
“Waterfalls” was just one of the many wonderful songs off the album “CrazySexyCool.” But people from all walks of life have heard and enjoyed “Waterfalls.”
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.