As time continues unabatedly further into 2021, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that 1991 was 30 years ago! Back then, I was still in my first year studying at UC Davis, in the middle of winter quarter, and doing my best to survive academically, socially, and emotionally. There was no Facebook or Twitter or email back then, life was both simpler, and more complicated back then. But, one thing that has always comforted me is music. I Music has always been there, even if it wasn’t available on an iPod or Spotify 30 years ago!
So, let’s take a trip back to 30 years ago this week in February 1991, and relive those memories with the Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hits that week. Some of the songs that are 30 years old will certainly surprise you, just as they did me!
#10. Love Will Never Do (Without You) by Janet Jackson. This song is technically the oldest song in the countdown, not based on the number of weeks it was on the chart at this point, but merely by the fact that it was from an album that was released in 1989, the critically acclaimed, Rhythm Nation 1814. And in early 1991, Janet was still going strong with singles from that album, with this song at Number 10 exactly 30 years ago this week! This song has aged well, still sounding fresh and inventive. Janet, just like her brother Michael Jackson, has created music that definitely stands the test of time.
#9. Play That Funky Music by Vanilla Ice. Unfortunately, this song probably has not stood the test of time as well, well, at least this particular version of the song! The original version, by Wild Cherry in the 1970s, has probably fared a bit better. In any case, this was the follow-up to the Number One hit, Ice Ice Baby, which went to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1990. This song did feature different lyrics from the original version by Wild Cherry. But, it definitely seems frozen in time and very representative of the early 1990s sound...for better AND worse.
#8. Disappear by INXS. I dedicate this song to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19! We would like it just to disappear already. Of course, this song was written very much pre-pandemic, and is a great song to sing along and dance to. Unfortunately, we lost lead singer Michael Hutchence later in the 1990s, but at this point in time, INXS we’re still going strong with fantastic tunes like this one.
#7. I’ll Give All My Love To You by Keith Sweat. "Slow jam," "quiet storm," and "romantic and soulful R&B love song" are all ways to describe this hit by Keith Sweat. Valentine’s Day is this weekend, and this may be the perfect song to rekindle the romance with you and your special someone. If not, it may rekindle your love of the memories of early 1991!
#6. Where Does My Heart Beat Now by Celine Dion. This was Celine’s very first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, with this song eventually peaking at Number Four. This is such a fantastic power ballad, and still one of my favorites from Celine. Although many of her songs have been bigger on the charts, this one continues to sound really good today.
#5. Someday by Mariah Carey. Mariah Carey was on a chart tear starting in the fall of 1990. This was her third song in a row that would hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. Her style of music, incorporating upbeat dance numbers, ballads, and everything in between, and featuring her amazing soaring vocals and musical range was all the rage throughout the 1990s.
#4. The First Time by Surface. Right now, we could all use a little bit more love, whether it’s for Valentine’s Day, or just because we’re all feeling a bit isolated. Surface to the rescue! This is a song that received a lot of radio airplay in 1991, and became their first and only Number One hit on the Billboard hot 100 to date. For some reason, great songs like this one just don’t seem to receive much exposure anymore, but maybe it’s time to remedy that? Turn it up, and hug the one you’re with!
#3. One More Try by Timmy T. If you “try,” you really do succeed! George Michael took his song, One More Try, to Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988. Three years later, Timmy T took a different song with the same title to Number One as well. This song definitely has that early '90s production quality, but for those of us who appreciate that sound, this makes it a winner! And, I can’t think of too many other artists from Fresno, besides Timmy T! If you can, let me know. Maybe I will feature a future music blog on musicians hailing from Fresno California. Could be fun!
#2. All The Man That I Need by Whitney Houston. The late great Whitney Houston left us with so many wonderful songs with which to remember her by. Some critics had complained that Whitney’s music in the 1980s often sounded “too pop, and not R&B enough.” Her 1990 album, I’m Your Baby Tonight, was partly a reaction to some of that criticism. The songs on the album were more soulful and less obviously pop than many of her songs in the 1980s. But one thing remained consistent, and that was the high quality of the music contained on the album. Songs like this one remind me of why Whitney was so popular. She seemed to so effortlessly sing soaring ballads like this, while displaying such emotion and control, taking the listener on the musical journey with her.
#1. Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C&C Music Factory featuring Freedom Williams. Most of the songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 this week 30 years ago were either slow jams or ballads, so this was a nice complementary song to crown the Billboard Hot 100. This classic, by the C&C Music Factory doesn’t just demand that you dance, it requires it! I don’t really think it’s possible to sit still while this song is playing. I dare you to sit still while this song is playing, in fact I double dog dare you, I just don’t think it’s possible! With all that’s going on these days, as well as all that’s not going on, we probably need to take more time to get on our feet and move. Dance along with this song, burn a few calories, and know that you are doing your body good, while celebrating some of the great tunes from 30 years ago!
Well, this has been fun. I will plan to do another look back before too long. Even if we are locked down and masked up, we can still enjoy a musical interlude, while tapping our feet to the beat! Keep the music playing...and keep smiling.