10 reasons 1994 was music's best year

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Courtesy of the label

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 were 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's 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 were 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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markie19
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11 days ago

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markie1918 hours ago


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Victor Guerrero
Victor Guerrero

because Bone Thugs-N-Harmony released Creepin On Ah Come Up.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson

barf! any year in the 80s beats 1994. Your writers are a bunch of young pukes

Melissa Wilson
Melissa Wilson

This just makes me want to delve in to all my 90's c.d.'s! Feeling reminiscent of my high school days!

Joel O'Brien
Joel O'Brien

Weezer? Ace of base? If I actually paid to read this filth I would cancel my subscription.

John Grinnell
John Grinnell

Can I get a job writing for the city pages? '94 was a good year but '85 is a million times better.

t-roe79
t-roe79

Crooked Rain Crooked Rain as Pavement's best albums is a bold statement. Personally I'd take Slanted and Enchanted.


Jeff Bender
Jeff Bender

You use "punk becomes pop" to justify your stance. In my opinion it contradicts it.

Jack B Smith
Jack B Smith

Don't see the Mariah Carey album as the greatest Christmas album ever

Chris Lunceford
Chris Lunceford

Also, Guided By Voices released their classic album, Bee Thousand in 1994.

Dan Carlsen
Dan Carlsen

Ha! These "best year ever" articles crack me up. On another discussion group I (tongue firmly in cheek) tried to institute a "you must clearly state what year you were born" whenever you started or responded to one of these threads, because, SURPRISE!, it usually turns out everyone likes the music from their teen years best, more specifically the year they were 18. ;-)

Timothy Sean Ritter
Timothy Sean Ritter

I agree about 1968, and I was 24 in 94', so I'm a good example of someone who should think 1994 was awesome. In fact I can think of more than a few years better than 94'. But to each their own...

Luke Rohde
Luke Rohde

Great article and a VERY solid case for '94, but I still say 1968 beat it, if even by a hair. Minnesota Historical Society hosted a panel discussion by The Current in November 2011 about 1968, The Year In Music that was REALLY great! Well done!

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