Songs often tell the story of your life. You choose the songs you listen to based on how you are feeling at any given point in time. While the 1990s weren’t as well-defined in music as some of the preceding decades, there are still plenty of songs that defined the era.
Depending on when you grew up and your own personal taste in music, you might find yourself falling in love with more of these songs than you would initially think you would.
Below are 20 songs that were made popular during the 90s. These songs are guaranteed to leave you feeling better than you did before you listened to them. All you have to do now is decide which ones you will add to your own playlist so you can hear them again and again.
20. Closing Time (Semisonic)
The 90s were often considered a complicated decade. This song puts all of that into perspective. It talks about someone who goes to a party and then they go to a bar.
It’s all about drinking and staying out, mostly to avoid the responsibility of going home and dealing with whatever is waiting for you there. The song also talks about the sentiment that existed a lot during this particular decade, saying that the person in question doesn’t have to go home, yet they can’t stay where they are.
You might be thinking this doesn’t sound like anything that feels particularly good. After all, isn’t it supposed to be a feel good song? Despite the fact that the lyrics can be quite dark, the rather upbeat tempo of the song makes it one that doesn’t feel like you’re listening to something horrible. In fact, it’s quite appealing and it’s one that you’re likely to find yourself enjoying immensely, despite what the lyrics are saying.
19. U Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer)
Even people who don’t typically listen to rap music are intimately familiar with this song. After all, it’s been in popular culture for years and it has truly become one of the most popular songs of the 1990s.
It’s easy to understand why it’s so well liked. It’s upbeat, it carries a great motivational message and it basically talks about the fact that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay because whatever is coming your way, you’ve got this. Who wouldn’t want to hear a message like that?
18. Semi-Charmed Life (Third Eye Blind)
Have you ever had anyone tell you that you live a charmed life? Maybe it’s because things always seem to go your way, at least to those who are on the outside looking in. The thing about living a charmed life is that it’s usually nothing more than a lot of hard work done behind the scenes.
Others may not realize that you’ve put in a great deal of effort, not to mention countless numbers of hours and sleepless nights in order to get where you are now.
This is a song that talks about living a life that looks like it might be charmed, yet also understanding that in reality, everything is in your hands. You have the power to achieve anything you want as long as you’re willing to work hard enough to do exactly that.
This is an empowering message and it’s one that a lot of people need to hear.
17. Around the World (Daft Punk)
Daft Punk has a way of making virtually everything that they put out there intriguing and catchy enough that everybody wants to hear it. That’s precisely what they do with this song and it didn’t take very long before it became a song that was almost immediately identifiable with the decade itself.
It’s easy to see why people still choose it as one of their go-to items on their playlist when they need to get motivated, feel good about their day or simply listen to something that doesn’t make them depressed.
16. Buddy Holly (Weezer)
This is a truly good song that pays homage to another music legend that created their best work during an entirely different time. It’s interesting to hear a song created by one outstanding artist about another. It’s definitely an uplifting song because it tells the listener that they too can achieve greatness in their own right, if only they are willing to try.
15. Truly Madly Deeply (Savage Garden)
Think about this one. When you hear someone say that they are truly in love, madly in love or deeply in love, you know they mean business. That meaning can transcend love and be used in virtually anything.
Maybe you’re talking about determination that you will succeed. Maybe you’re talking about the passion that you have when it comes to doing what you genuinely love to do.
Regardless of the individual details, this is a song about being so completely committed to someone or something that you will go the extra mile in order to ensure that everything is as it should be, even on those hard days where you’d probably like to give up more than anything else.
14. Livin’ la Vida Loca (Ricky Martin)
This is a happy, loud and energetic song that makes you want to get up and move with the music. It’s been used in loads of popular culture items and it also became synonymous with various dances and even exercise routines that became popular throughout the decade.
It’s one of those songs that you heard practically everywhere you went during the 1990s. Even though it may not get the same amount of airtime today, it’s still an immensely popular song that is instantly recognizable.
13. You Get What You Give (New Radicals)
If you’re talking about feel good songs, you may not think that this particular title would fit. After all, they’re not talking about you getting all the riches and glory and fame that you’ve ever wanted, are they?
However, they are telling you something that’s more important. The song helps you remember that if you really want all of those things in life like fame, glory and money, you have to put in the effort to get them.
Why should that make you feel good? It essentially puts you in the driver’s seat. How badly do you really want those things? If it’s that important to you, then put in the work to achieve them.
That’s a positive message that helps you understand that you can do anything you want. You just have to decide what it is that you’re after and then set goals that will get you there.
12. My Hero (Foo Fighters)
How can you not love an upbeat song about someone that you consider a personal hero? Keep in mind, a hero looks different to every single individual. That being said, this is a song that personifies the qualities that typically exist in such an individual. It celebrates them. It’s easy to see why so many people love the song and why they identify with it so readily.
11. When I Come Around (Green Day)
This is a song about not being fooled by what other people tell you. Instead, it’s one that celebrates the idea of thinking for yourself and making your own decisions. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of pleasing people because no one likes for someone else to be upset with them.
However, you will never be happy as long as you’re pleasing someone else. It’s really best to do what you need to do in order to be happy and let other people deal with it.
10. Believe (Cher)
How can you not love a song that is all about helping you believe that things will always work out for the best, even when it seems like it’s utterly impossible?
It might be hard to swallow, but the very idea of believing that something could potentially come true means that you’re more than halfway there. If you believe that you can do something, you absolutely can. If you believe that you can’t achieve something, you’re also correct.
Why is this so? People who believe that they can achieve something will keep going, even when the going gets rough. Those who think they can’t achieve something will stop as soon as they hit the first speed bump in the road.
9. Wonderwall (Oasis)
Not only is this a feel-good song, but it’s a song that became immensely popular with late night karaoke. Virtually every person that was old enough to get into a karaoke bar during the 1990s has performed this song a number of times.
It’s still popular today. It’s got a great beat, it’s relatively easy to sing and it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Who wouldn’t want to get up on a stage and sing it at least once in their lifetime?
8. It Wasn’t Me (Shaggy, Rik Rok)
This is a fun song. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of fun. Just like the title implies, it’s a song that basically denies responsibility for any number of things. Remember, feel good songs don’t always have to carry some deep message. It’s perfectly okay if it’s all about having a good time, and that’s precisely what you have here.
7. …Baby One More Time (Britney Spears)
This was a song that became an almost instant hit. The very minute that it started to hit the airwaves, people fell in love with it and it ended up being played all over the place, all the time.
It’s one of those songs that just makes you feel empowered, no matter what type of situation you might be going through in life. Granted, some people can identify with the lyrics better than others but everybody seems to get motivated by this song.
6. No Scrubs (TLC)
This is a genuinely funny song about people who will not settle for just any man. In fact, they talk about being strong, empowered women who refuse to be with a man just because it’s a matter of convenience.
They talk about things being exactly the opposite from that line of thinking. To them, the ultimate level of convenience involves being able to stand on one’s own two feet.
As such, they won’t spend time with any man that they don’t think truly values them as a human being because they don’t need anyone to take care of them or be with them. They’re completely comfortable in their own skin and they’re happy to do their own thing, no matter if it’s widely accepted or not.
5. Walking in Memphis (Marc Cohn)
This is one of those songs that just makes you feel something in your soul. It talks about going to Memphis and eventually, it morphs into things that are of a more spiritual nature. It’s a song that a lot of people can identify with because it can mean many different things to different individuals.
By the time you’re finished listening to it, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself choosing the play again option because it’s one of those that you just want to hear over and over.
4. Doo Wop (That Thing) (Mrs. Lauryn Hill)
If you’ve never heard the popular doo-wop songs that came decades earlier, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. It’s an entirely different kind of music that’s fun, upbeat and entirely energetic.
This is a song that’s all about that particular feeling. The lyrics talk about taking that type of mindset and applying it to anything that you have in life, especially those things that are either holding you back or that you’ve been dreading (and putting off). In short, it’s a song about tackling things head on and doing it with a smile.
3. Dreams (The Cranberries)
This is one of those tunes that makes you feel good simply because of the way the song itself is performed. It’s not so much about the lyrics or even the meaning of the song itself. It’s much more about the tune, the tempo of the music and those soaring high notes that are performed in such a way that almost no one besides The Cranberries could pull it off.
2. Bitter Sweet Symphony (The Verve)
This song is unique in the sense that it combines different genres of music into a single piece that you just don’t hear together. It’s got the lyrics and the gravitas of a power ballad, yet it has the music of a symphony orchestra.
It’s all perfectly meshed together in a way that you can’t help but do anything but sit there with your eyes closed and listen, fully and intently. You’ll definitely feel better for having done so and you just might be motivated to go out and create something of your own.
1. I Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys)
This song practically defined the 1990s. It was tremendously popular and it’s got a great beat. It’s a love ballad and it’s one that’s done in the style of the storyteller talking directly to the other person involved. Even today, it’s a song that you can’t get out of your head once you hear it and it’s still more popular than a lot of new releases.
You can also read:
- The 10 Best Grunge Bands of the 90s
- The 20 Best Country Songs of the 90s
- The 20 Best Rap Songs of the 90s
- The 10 Best 90s Power Ballads of All-Time
- The 20 Best Feel Good Songs of the 80s