2016 has made us feel all nostalgic. We’ve seen the world go crazy for Pokémon, a new Harry Potter book hit the shelves, and a Clinton is campaigning to be President of the US. You could be mistaken for thinking we’re living in the 90s again – which got us craving 90s music. The 90s saw grunge kids head banging to Nirvana, Britney Spears wannabes singing into their hairbrushes, and of course the Teletubbies song. No matter what sub-culture your music tastes pigeon holed you into, the 90s offered it all. We knew that picking a definitive top 10 list would be impossible, so here are the UK’s 10 best-selling songs of the 90s. Check out our Record Breakers in Music blog for more!
There were just some classics we couldn’t help but talk about. Here are some honourable mentions that didn’t make it into the top 10:
49. Ricky Martin, ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ (775,700 Copies Sold) – Who knew Latin pop was so catchy?
46. Bassiel & Skinner & Lightning Seeds, ‘Three Lions’ (785,000 Copies Sold) – The timeless anthem for the eternally disappointed football fans of England.
37. B*Witched, ‘C’est La Vie’ (850,500 Copies Sold) – Back when double denim was actually cool!
28. Oasis, ‘Wonderwall’ (966,000 Copies Sold) – Because what else would you sing at 3am in the kebab shop after too many vodka shots?
19. Teletubbies, ‘Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!”’ (1,100,000 Copies Sold) – We’re sure this will go down as one of the greatest pop songs of our generation.
Ranking number 9 on NME’s ‘Greatest No. 1 Singles in History’ this love ballad, the theme for Houston’s film debut in ‘The Bodyguard’, became a worldwide success. The song was Whitney Houston’s longest run at number 1, lasting 10 weeks in the UK, and also set the record for the longest run at top spot for a solo female in British singles chart history.
Written in memory of The Notorious B.I.G., this song altered the trajectory of Hip-Hop. Puff Daddy offered sentimental and mournful rhymes etched over the sampled beat of The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’. The song was one of the best-selling in history, with over 8 million copies sold worldwide.
Written and produced by Max Martin, previously of N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys, this song propelled Britney Spears’ pop career to stratospheric heights. If you were a teenage girl in the 90s, weekday evenings were spent learning dance moves in the mirror to this nostalgic belter. The song hit number 1 in every European chart it entered and sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
This love ballad, the theme for ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, enjoyed phenomenal success in the UK. Spending 16 consecutive weeks at the top spot, it sold over 15 million copies worldwide and has no doubt featured on a limitless number of romantic compilation albums.
Take David Bowie, Elton John, Bono, Boyzone, Joan Armatrading, Gabrielle, and whole host of other top musicians. Drop them in a recording studio with Lou Reed, all paid for by the BBC and you’ve got the 6th best-selling song of the 90s. Highly criticised as a waste of money from the BBC, but rescued by its charity release for Children in Need, the record contributed £2,125,000 to the charity’s fundraising initiative.
This became the first ever commercial recording to feature Auto-Tune – Kanye West eat your heart out! The song left Cher’s pop rock reputation behind and embraced a dance-pop beat in a bid to appeal to a younger fan base. It was nominated for 2 Grammy awards and sold over 11 million copies worldwide.
Admit it, you love it! This absolute classic from Danish-Norwegian dance-pop group Aqua was met by adoration across the world. It topped most charts in Europe but was voted number 1 by Rolling Stone readers in a poll to find ‘The Worst Songs of the 90s’. The song even sparked a law suit by Barbie toy manufacturer Mattel who claimed the song tarnished the reputation of their trademark – the case was dismissed and subsequent appeals rejected.
Entering the UK chart at number 4, it took this classic three weeks to rise to number 1 where it then stayed for a whole 15 weeks. The song’s success was helped along by the film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, and spent so long in the charts that some radio stations banned it for the sake of listeners’ sanity. When support began to wane and public opinion started to turn, the band opted to delete the track from sale. It has gone down as the UK’s best-selling love ballad of all time.
Before Jerome Flynn played beloved Game of Thrones character Bronn, he graced the airwaves with this best-selling 90s powerhouse. Partnered by Robson Green and steered in the right direction by a then fledgling Simon Cowell, these reluctant singers went straight to number 1 in the UK and stayed there for 7 weeks.
Easily the best selling song of the decade, this release became the biggest selling single ever in the UK and US only weeks after its release. Re-written as a tribute to Princess Diana, the proceeds from this tearjerker went towards the numerous charities supported by the late Princess. The single saw around 33 million sales worldwide.
These may have been the best-selling songs of the 90s, but were they your favourites? Build a playlist of your 90s picks and broadcast it live to your friends with the BlueJay social radio app. Download it here: