200 Most-Streamed Songs From the ’90s
From Britpop wars to that Union Jack dress and the rise and rise of US hip-hop and R&B, the ’90s brought some almighty cultural moments on both sides of the Atlantic. And right now, our nostalgia for the decade is seemingly inextinguishable, born of a yearning for what many see as a simpler, more carefree time. This playlist reveals the 200 ’90s hits we’re still listening to most in the UK, beloved as much by those who were there the first time round as by the younger generations diving headfirst into ’90s culture today. It’s no surprise that Oasis—the biggest-selling band of the Britpop era—leads the way, with “Wonderwall” the single most-streamed song from the decade and “Live Forever” in seventh place. (This playlist also, perhaps, settles some old scores: While Oasis features 11 times in total, their bitter rivals Blur appear just three times, with “Song 2” their highest-charting track at No. 44.) The Notorious B.I.G., too, features twice in the top 10, with “Hypnotize” and “Big Poppa.” Biggie is just one of the towering US hip-hop figures whose ’90s hits we’re returning to again and again, alongside Eminem, Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre, 2Pac, and Puff Daddy. Indeed, this was a decade that gave rise to indelible artists who changed music forever. Think Nirvana—whose “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the sixth-most-listened-to song from the ’90s, and who ushered in a generation-capturing grunge sound that continues to inspire artists now. Then there’s national-treasure British artists: from Britpop icons Pulp to Spice Girls—who imbued young women everywhere with their effervescent girl power spirit—and Robbie Williams, who emerged from Take That in 1995 to become one of the UK’s most successful male pop stars. And artists who brought the UK’s underground dance scene straight into the mainstream remain on heavy rotation, including Faithless, The Prodigy, and Fatboy Slim. But not every enduring hit comes from an enduring name. Alongside TLC’s “No Scrubs,” Destiny’s Child’s “Say Ny Name,” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” Goo Goo Dolls’ brooding “Iris” and Toploader’s twinkling “Dancing in the Moonlight” both feature in the top 10. More one-time hitmakers here who met the moment include Eagle-Eye Cherry, B*Witched, Vengaboys, and Seal. It’s hard to imagine a song as ebullient and silly as “C’est La Vie” being made today. But silliness is no bad thing: Just think of the brilliance—and staying power—of David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s “Three Lions” (in at No. 53). The ’90s was a decade of optimism and creativity, as well as angst and restless change. Anyone who lived through it will remember just how fervently music fans committed themselves to their chosen tribe. And whether you were Blur or Oasis, Britney or Christina, Robbie or Gary, there’s something in this playlist for everyone. Dive in to discover some of the most enduringly iconic sounds of a decade we’ll never forget.