Twenty years ago, in 1994, a great number of things happened in the world of music. Nas and Biggie dropped their iconic debut albums. Green Day and Oasis released Dookie and Definitely, Maybe, respectively, which had a profound effect on the direction popular rock music would go for the rest of the decade. Kurt Cobain died on April 5, a scant four weeks after a baby named Justin Drew Bieber was born in Ontario. (Probably unrelated, but worth looking into.) The landmark case Campbell v. Acuff-Rose, Inc. was tried before the Supreme Court, certifying parody as a fair use of another artist’s work, and resulting in the highest legal authority in the land listening to 2 Live Crew’s version of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” which contained lyrics like “Big hairy woman, You need to shave that stuff/ Big hairy woman, You know, I bet it’s tough.” What a country.
Anyway, with all that in mind, and because 2014 is winding down, I thought it would be fun to look back at Billboard’s Top 10 songs from 1994. Are we remembering it with rose-colored glasses, as one tends to do when one gets nostalgic? Probably. Definitely.
Away we go.
1) Ace of Base – The Sign
Congratulations, you have this song in your head now!
Yes, even with all the notable music released in 1994 — and I do urge you to glance at both the full Top 100 and this list of albums that came out that year — “The Sign” by Ace of Base took home the top spot on Billboard’s year-end list. We loved weird Swedish Eurodancesynth pop music so much back then. Don’t believe me? Stick around as we work our way through this chart.
While we’re on the subject, did you know that Ace of Base founding member Ulf Ekberg was in a neo-Nazi rock band in the 1980s called Commit Suicide that performed songs with lyrics like, “Men in white hoods march down the road, we enjoy ourselves when we’re sawing off n—–s’ heads/ Immigrant, we hate you! Out, out, out, out! Nordic people, wake up now! Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot”? That’s not good! But he has also apologized profusely for it a number of times since then, including in this statement to the Huffington Post. That’s, uh, better!
We are learning so much already.
2) All-4-One – I Swear
Proof 1994 was a goofy year: All-4-One, a store brand version of Boyz II Men, charted ahead of Boyz II Men on the singles list with a song that stayed at number one for 11 weeks, despite the fact that Boyz II Men had a song that was at number one for a record-setting 14 weeks IN THE SAME YEAR and only slipped to number two in week 15 because BOYZ II MEN RELEASED ANOTHER SONG THAT BUMPED IT OUT OF THE TOP SPOT. This is madness. We should be ashamed of ourselves.