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Top 10 Little-Known Facts About Popular 1990s Songs

Estelle Thurtle


The 1990s was a great and terrible time for music. There were number one hits that still feature on playlists today, and then there were songs that many feel should never have been written. However it may be, there are some facts behind popular 1990s songs that make them just that much more interesting . . . or weird.

Featured image credit: Universal Music Group

10 ‘Baby Got Back’


In 1992, Sir Mix-a-Lot hit the charts with his controversial song, “Baby Got Back.” It was controversial because of its blatant references to the female anatomy, but it was also extremely popular, as proven by the fact that it was beaten out only by Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” when it came to sales that year.

What some may not know is that the song was inspired by another very famous singer: none other than Jennifer Lopez. In 2014, Sir Mix-a-Lot told Vanity Fair that Jennifer’s smooth dance moves on In Living Color served as his primary inspiration for writing “Baby Got Back.” And while he admires other women’s curves, including Kim Kardashian’s, J-Lo will always be the queen where derrieres are concerned.

9 ‘I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing’


After 28 years of making music, Aerosmith finally debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 with the song “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” Used in the soundtrack to the blockbuster movie Armageddon, the song stayed at number one for a month and sold over one million copies in the UK. After having been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was also nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Original Song. It didn’t win either.

However, Aerosmith came close to never reaching the coveted number one spot, since the hit song wasn’t written by them in the first place. The band had struggled to come up with an idea for Armageedon‘s soundtrack and eventually settled on “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” which was originally written by Diane Warren for the one and only . . . Celine Dion.


8 ‘I Want It That Way’


In 1999, boy band Backstreet Boys released the first single off their album, Millennium. “I Want It That Way” stormed to the top of the charts in 25 countries, and some critics called it the pop song of the year. The video for the song was equally popular before being somewhat overshadowed by a parody video by Blink 182.

Some lesser-known facts about the song include that it was banned in China 12 years after its release because it failed to undergo a “screening process” before being made available in the country. Also, the opening notes of the song were inspired by the massive hit song “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.

7 ‘November Rain’


In 1992, “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses became and remains the longest song to hit the top ten on the Billboard chart, at roughly nine minutes in length. It stayed at number two in August of that year, beaten out for the number one spot by “Baby Got Back” as well as “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men.

At the time, the video for “November Rain” was the most expensive ever made, considering that it included the construction of a chapel in the desert. The total cost came to $1.5 million. The most notable fact, perhaps, is that the footage of the concert in the music video was not real, as many people believed it to be. Instead, extras were hired to fill a theater in Los Angeles while footage of the band playing was recorded.

6 ‘It Must Have Been Love’


Even though the original version of “It Must Have Been Love” was released in 1987, it was its rerelease in 1990 for the movie Pretty Woman that saw Roxette receive their third number one hit in the US. This was the most successful version of the song, even though it was remade into a country version in 1991 and a Spanish version in 1996.

In 2014, the writer of the hit song, Per Gessle, received the Million Air Award when the song surpassed more than five million airplays in the US. What some fans may not know, however, is that “It Must Have Been Love” was originally a Christmas song. The line “It’s a hard Christmas day” was replaced with “It’s a hard winter’s day,” and the intro was shortened before it was accepted for Pretty Woman. At the end of 1990, it was named the second most successful song of the year, after “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips.


5 ‘Everybody Hurts’


R.E.M. was formed in 1980 and enjoyed great success in the music industry, selling more than 85 million records and being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band finally split in 2011.

The song “Everybody Hurts” was released in 1992, rereleased in 1993, and peaked in the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100. It also hovered within the top ten on charts in other countries, including France, Ireland, and Canada. The song is also one of the saddest ever written, according to a survey done in 2012, which saw it beat out “Candle In The Wind” for the top spot of “Most Depressing Song Of All Time.”

4 ‘Achy Breaky Heart’


“Achy Breaky Heart” was seemingly destined for both fame and ridicule since Billy Ray Cyrus first performed it on his 1992 album Some Gave All. It was Cyrus’s ticket to fame and was his most successful song, achieving platinum status in Australia and reaching number one on the country charts and number four on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song also features on the top of charts with names like “Worst Songs Ever.”

In the Disney show Hannah Montana, Cyrus parodied himself when he pretended to write the song back in 1987 and scoffed at the words “achy breaky,” saying it’s just about the dumbest thing ever. For some reason, Cyrus decided to rerelease the song again in 2014 . . . as a hip-hop remix. This version includes a video featuring rapper Buck 22 and twerking aliens.

3 ‘Barbie Girl’


“Barbie Girl” was released by Aqua in 1997 and shot up the charts in many European countries, where it peaked at the top for three weeks. Not surprisingly, the song was the most successful for Aqua throughout their music career. Much the same as with “Achy Breaky Heart,” some people couldn’t get enough of it, while others simply hated it from the get-go.

The latter category included Mattel, the manufacturer of Barbie and Ken dolls. In fact, they hated the song so much that they dragged the matter into court, claiming that Aqua had infringed on their copyright and had fans and consumers thinking that Mattel supported the song. MCA Records in turn sued Mattel for defamation. As expected, the courts threw out both cases.

2 ‘Creep’


When Radiohead released “Creep” in 1992, it went largely unnoticed. When released again a year later, it became a massive, chart-topping hit, so much so that fans would only request “Creep” during Radiohead’s live shows and basically ignore their other songs. The song was inspired by a girl whom Thom Yorke was into and who showed up at one of their shows.

“Creep” also caught the attention of undesirables around the world, including a convicted British murderer. The man wrote a letter from prison stating that he felt like the creep in the song and that the voices in his head persuaded him to kill a man. Suffice it to say, Thom Yorke was sufficiently creeped out by this letter.

1 ‘Stay Another Day’


British boy band East 17 only had one chart-topping hit in the form of “Stay Another Day,” released in 1994. The arrangement contains almost no drums, despite being released in the mid-1990s. To appeal to the Christmas shoppers in December 1994, Christmas bells were added to the song. “Stay Another Day” sold just under one million copies in the UK.

Most fans assumed that the song referred to a sad breakup, but songwriter Tony Mortimer confirmed that the lyrics were inspired by his brother’s suicide and the pain it caused him and his family. However, he does want fans to connect with the song in their own way and not only remember the sad reason it was written.

Estelle lives in Gauteng, SA.

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