10 Reasons 1994 Was the Best Year for Music

Categories: List-O-Rama

Nirvana.jpg
Courtesy of the label
By Art Tavana

Was 1994 the best year for pop music in history? Quite possibly.

Sure, some of it was terrible, but overall it was amazing: Nordic black metal, Britpop, pop punk, trip hop, and the best R&B of the '90s. (Boyz II Men was peaking). Hip-hop's Golden Age was winding down, but a new, arguably more compelling era for the genre was beginning, with the debut works from Nas and Biggie Smalls. Green Day would establish pop punk as a force for years to come, while across the pond Oasis and Blur were stirring the pot. Hole, meanwhile, unleashed a powerful post-feminist statement. It was also the year Beck gave slackers a good name.

But that's just part of the story. Here are 10 reasons why 1994 was the best year for music, ever.

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Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger

10. Black-Metal Renaissance
If the '80s were metal's glory days, 1994 was Nordic black metal's renaissance. Darkthrone released Transilvanian Hunger -- a masterpiece that set Norway on fire. Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse was Nordic black metal's boldest statement, making black metal into fine art.

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Ace of Base - The Sign

9. The Glory Days of Pop
Pop music was ridiculously diverse in 1994. In the same year, R Kelly's "Bump n' Grind" became one of R&B's biggest singles and Ace of Base's "The Sign" ruled the charts. The sweet satisfaction of rock-pop classics like Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones" and Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do" will never happen again, in the same year where Mariah Carey released the greatest Christmas album in history.

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Oasis - Definitely Maybe

8. Britpop Was Born
When a new sense of hope drove the British youth to chew up "anti-grunge" bands like Blur and Oasis, the two groups would ignite nationalistic pride that culminated in the release of Oasis' Definitely Maybe, a working-class rocker that went on to become one of England's most popular albums ever. Twenty years later, the Brits are still losing their shit over a possible Oasis reunion.

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Hole - Live Through This

7. Women Ruled
Part of Sarah McLachlan's inspiration for Lilith Fair was rooted in the goings-on of 1994, when Liz Phair and Tori Amos were in their creative primes, the Cranberries were writing protest songs, and Hole was body-slamming men on tour. It also signaled the debut of Veruca Salt, and the first time a woman (Roseanne) would host the MTV VMAs.

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Pulp Fiction Movie Poster

6. The Best Film Soundtracks
Besides the goth gems off The Crow soundtrack, 1994 also was the year of The Lion King soundtrack, Above the Rim, Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" and Pulp Fiction. And while the Reality Bites soundtrack wasn't particularly great, it did give us Lisa Loeb singing "Stay" in an NYC apartment -- filmed by Ethan Hawke (true story).


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29 comments
Al Jensen
Al Jensen

Say whaaaaaaat? 1997 > 1994 for days.

Earl Lamkie
Earl Lamkie

This was the era of my youth. At the time seemed great but was mostly garbage . This was probably written by someone in their mid twenties . Because everyone thinks the music they were first introduced too was the most profound .. Like a childhood food that takes you back

fozra
fozra

while the 90s in  general was great for music (I was out seeing shows almost constantly), the title on this article is missing a qualifier: "in my lifetime." there are so many great years in the history of modern music, and every generation has at least one to count.

Bob Monroe
Bob Monroe

"24 hour revenge therapy" came out in 94. The greatest indie-punk record of all time.

Ricky Nelson
Ricky Nelson

Once again proving you know nothing about music.

Steve Brumleve
Steve Brumleve

The album overall isn't depressing. But listening to 'Lake of Fire' still pretty much gives me goosebumps. Cobain was saying goodbye, but we didn't know it yet

juliocpratop
juliocpratop

1994 is so far from being the best year in music, I don't think I could even say that without breaking into laughter

Angi-la Red Cloud
Angi-la Red Cloud

i think what you meant to say was "pure norwegian black metal" ;)

Kenneth Lane
Kenneth Lane

There was a Democrat in the Whitehouse with serious brains?

Melynda Baumeister
Melynda Baumeister

Fuk nirvana n thank the Lord kurt cobain isn't makn music anymore!

Matthew Blankis
Matthew Blankis

I'll still take 71, but 94 was great. Music from the 90s has been getting unfairly slagged lately and I don't like it one bit.

A Robert Jacques
A Robert Jacques

I think a lot of people saw it as depressing in light of his death, being among the last new material, released less than 6 mos. before the fact. Not to mention the somber mood and funereal stage set.

Lance Holdforth
Lance Holdforth

Why is Nirvana MTV Unplugged considered 'depressing'? Kurt's death certainly was, but the record was amazing.

Josh Robinson
Josh Robinson

Tons of great albums from that year also woodstock 94

Jeff Fortner
Jeff Fortner

90s music is in my heart n my soul. . I wish could live in the 90s again it's best decade I lived in so far n most likely ever.. great music n loved watching cartoons in that period lol

Jim Descher
Jim Descher

Wow...you lost me when you pronounced Mariah Carey's Christmas album as the "greatest Christmas album in history" Really?

Greg Van
Greg Van

lol the thumbnail alone makes me wanna puke

Sublunar Johnson
Sublunar Johnson

Far Beyond Driven... I'm guessing the only reason you left it out is because it's so good there's no point bringing it up all the time. I'll forgive you. This time.

Jamie Van
Jamie Van

Greg, this is for you, 90's hater! lol

Nic Clark
Nic Clark

And Dazzling Killmen's Face of Collapse album!

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