There was something in the musical water of 1994. Let's take another sip.
A good chunk of millennials were either pre-teens or young teens in 1994 — and their budding musical tastes were informed by a wide array of memorable offerings in just about every genre. It was the post-grunge era, and alternative music ruled. But so did R&B, rap (which was getting away from party-anthems and addressing more realistic or slice-of-life tales) and pop-ish singer-songwriters.
It was a year that saw the release of many seminal albums: Green Day's "Dookie," Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral," Nas' "Illmatic," Weezer's "Blue Album," Hootie and the Blowfish's "Cracked Rear View," the Notorious B.I.G's "Ready to Die."
Aaliyah, Korn, Dave Matthews Band, Brandy, Oasis, Portishead and Marilyn Manson were among the artists who released their first album in 1994.
Below are 20 of the most influential, notable and, well, just downright catchy, songs released two decades ago. And yes, it was agonizing to narrow this down to 20 (sorry, Des'ree! You just missed it).
We're getting a little misty.
1. "The Sign," Ace of Base
To be technical (as one always should when dealing with Ace of Base), this song will turn 21 this year, since it was released in the United States on December 21, 1993. But we'll overlook that since Billboard recognizes it is as the No. 1 song of 1994. Yes, of the entire year. And it also has the distinction of inspiring a "Full House" episode where Stephanie forms the band, Girl Talk. How's that for a very 1994 sentence?
2. "Longview," Green Day
"Dookie" was Green Day's major-label debut, and "Longview" was its first single (it went to No. 1). There probably was no better song in 1994 that captured that "slacker" mentality (pot smoking! boredom! other things we can't say!). It's also likely the best thing ever to come from being high on LSD, as bassist Mike Dirnt said he was doing when he wrote the bass line.
3. "Juicy," the Notorious B.I.G.
Despite a now-unfortunate World Trade Center reference, "Juicy" remains one of the most beloved hip-hop chronicles of all time. Plus, we always gravitate toward a song dedicated to really bad teachers.
4. "Crazy," Aerosmith
Aerosmith unexpected early 1990s renaissance (Aerosance?) was capped with this track and its influential video, which was played roughly 28 times an hour on MTV.
5. "100% Pure Love," Crystal Waters
Nothing quite said "Jock Jams"/MTV's "The Grind" like "100% Pure Love." Bonus awesome points: One of the video's dancers is Michael Kenneth Williams, Omar on "The Wire," who also choreographed it.
6. "Undone (The Sweater Song)," Weezer
Weezer released it's self-titled debut album, aka "The Blue Album" in 1994, and angsty/awkward teens (like us) were never the same after this, its first single (next single: "Buddy Holly"). God bless you, Rivers Cuomo.
7. "Stay (I Missed You)," Lisa Loeb
Latest vidence of the enduring legacy/power of "Stay"? The prison sing-along in Season 2 "Orange is the New Black."
8. "I Alone," Live
Live was the Creed of 1994 — but less Jesus-y. And sure, they're a bit of a joke now, but here's a reminder that the album "Throwing Copper" sold more than 8 million copies. Mostly to angry frat guys, but still.
9. "Gin and Juice," Snoop Doggy Dogg
Everyone who came of age in 1994 still knows every word to this song. Every word.
10. "On Bended Knee," Boyz II Men
Oh hey, middle school prom.
11. "Hold My Hand," Hootie and the Blowfish
Yes, "Hold My Hand" was released in the same year as Nine Inch Nails' "Closer." Still waiting for that mash-up.
12. "Creep," TLC
"Fanmail"-era TLC is OK and all, but we'll always have a soft spot for "CrazySexyCool" TLC. Always.
13. "Cut Your Hair," Pavement
Or: What you listened to while compiling your latest zine.
14. "Sabotage," Beastie Boys
One of the best songs of the '90s, I'm telling y'all.
15. "Strong Enough," Sheryl Crow
1994 was a big year for Crow, and this was the follow-up to the mega-popular "All I Wanna Do." And Lilith Fair was a follow-up to everything Crow did in 1994.
16. "Interstate Love Song," Stone Temple Pilots
Both "Vasoline" and "Interstate Love Song" were released by STP in 1994. "Interstate" had — shocker! — apparently a lot to do with lying and Scott Weiland's heroin use and him lying about his heroin use.
17. "Cotton Eye Joe," Rednex
Ace of Base wasn't the only Swedish band to hit it big in 1994. There was also Rednex, who took this 1850s-era song and turned it into some sort of disco-dance version. Which we're pretty sure could have only happened in the 1990s.
18. "Regulate," Warren G and Nate Dogg
A new classic.
19. "Last Goodbye," Jeff Buckley
Singles from Buckley's landmark album "Grace" weren't technically released until 1995, but we'll make an exception because he's Jeff Buckley.
20. "The Man Who Sold the World," Nirvana
"MTV Unplugged in New York," was released in November 1994, seven months after the death of Kurt Cobain, the man who helped shaped much of the music of 1994.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun