By Jack Sharkey, June 9, 2017

 

1994

Rock & Roll called itself grunge. It was a bit dark and dystopian, but it was still rock & roll. Ask a Black Sabbath fan if anything new was going on in 1994.To off-set all of the bumming, pop music did its best to present a sunny side, even reaching back to some old favorites from the previous two decades. 

 

Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden Truly the voice of his generation, Chris Cornell and Soundgarden took the torch lit by Kurt Cobain Eddie Vedder three years earlier and made music from the glow and soot that has truly stood the test of time.

 

 

Don't Turn Around - Ace of Base Sweden's 1990s answer to Sweden's 1970s pop sensations ABBA, Ace of Base ended the year with three songs on Billboard's Top Ten, including the Number One spot with The Sign. But Don't Turn Around gets the mention here because of it's long history. Written by Albert Hammond (It Never Rains In Southern California) and Diane Warren (pretty much every pop hit ever), it was a B-Side for Tina Turner in 1986, a minor hit for UK reggae act Aswad in 1988 and finally a mega-ear-wormer for Ace of Base in 1994.   

 

 

Baby, I Love Your Way - Big Mountain Before Winona Ryder became known only as a shoplifter, she was a major movie star, and Big Mountain's interpretation of Peter Frampton's 1976 mega-hit was pushed to the stratosphere as the lead song from the Reality Bites soundtrack. But, it's a really good reworking of the original in its own right. Also interesting to note that scat singing, a stylistic curiosity in the early nineties (Big Mountain, Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors to name three) had lead singers reaching back to the 1940s and the jump blues innovators for their "new" spin on singing.    

 

 

Can You Feel the Love Tonight - Elton John Music and movies were totally intertwined in the 90s, and some of our biggest musical memories wouldn't have happened without having been tied to some of the decade's biggest box office smashes. Elton John's Can You Feel the Love Tonight is the rare movie song that transcended its placement and became a mega-hit on its own. This song is also a great example of a fabulous singer who kind of hates his own voice and loves to cover it up with effects, in this case the huge stereo reverb on his main vocal.  

 

 

Hero - Mariah Carey Regardless of what you may think of her now (and her New Year's Eve live TV meltdown), Mariah Carey is probably the last of the great divas. A straight line can be drawn from Bessie Smith to Bille Holliday to Aretha Franklin to Patti LaBelle to Mariah. She is singer outside of the studio, and very few singers since (possibly excepting Christina Aguilera) have been able to come close to Mariah in her prime.     

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