13 of the best songs from 1991: Bryan Adams, Simply Red and more
4 June 2018, 17:26
1991 was the year of the end of the Cold War, Terminator 2 and the beginnings of the Internet.
But what were the best songs of the second year of the 1990s?
We've jumped in our time machine to pick our very favourite Smooth classics from 1991, is yours in there?
1. Bryan Adams - 'Everything I Do (I Do it for You)'
You simply couldn't escape this song in 1991! This rock ballad still holds the UK record for most consecutive weeks at number one. While we might have got bored of it back in 1991, it remains one of the greatest love songs of all time.
It was recorded for the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, but lost out to 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Oscars.
2. Queen - 'These Are the Days of Our Lives'
This song was originally written by Roger Taylor about his children, and how parenthood made him look back on his own life.
Inevitably, the song took on new meaning when it was announced that Freddie Mercury had AIDS and knew he was going to die soon when he recorded it. The video was Mercury’s last filmed performance, and Brian May later speculated that Freddie was “saying his goodbye” in the video.
3. Cher - 'The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)'
Originally by Merry Clayton and then Betty Everett, this 1960s classic was covered by Cher to great effect in 1990.
The song was recorded for her movie Mermaids, and it became her first solo number one in the UK in 1991.
4. Chesney Hawkes - 'The One and Only'
The ultimate one hit wonder? This song featured in the 1991 movie Buddy's Song, which starred Chesney and Roger Daltrey as his father.
After its use in the movie Doc Hollywood in the same year, it was also a big hit in the States, and number one in the UK for five weeks.
5. Michael Jackson - 'Black or White'
It was a huge event when Michael Jackson unleashed the music video for his brand new single in 1991.
This was the lead single from his Dangerous album, with a video that included everyone from Macaulay Culkin, Norm off Cheers and Bart Simpson.
6. Extreme - 'More than Words'
Usually known for their funk metal style, Extreme totally changed tack with this single.
The acoustic ballad was later described by the band as "a blessing and a curse" due to its unexpected huge success, but they still embrace it to this day at live shows.
7. Scorpions - 'Wind of Change'
German band Scorpions were usually known for their hard rock anthems, but slowed it down for this political song about the end of the Cold War.
They were inspired to write the song after a visit to Moscow in 1989, and became a huge hit just after the failed coup that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Communist regime. As of 2017, it remains one of the best-selling singles ever in Germany.
8. Beverley Craven - 'Promise Me'
This song failed to chart the first time around in 1990, but after a few TV appearances its re-release was a big hit a year later.
The ballad peaked at number three in the UK in 1991, and it was Beverley's biggest hit.
9. Massive Attack - 'Unfinished Sympathy'
Using the temporary band name Massive due to the outbreak of the Cold War, this song features co-writer Shara Nelson on vocals. It is generally recognised as a pioneering song in the development of British dance music.
Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja said: “The title came up as a joke at first, but it fitted the song and the arrangements so perfectly, we just had to use it.” The distinctive bells are sampled from the 1975 song ‘Take Me To The Mardi Gras’ by Bob James. It also has elements of Run DMC’s ‘Peter Piper’.
10. Seal - 'Crazy'
This was Seal's official debut solo single. The song was inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
He later explained: "I felt the cycle had reached its apex. I felt the world changing and I felt profound things happening." It gave Seal a top 10 hit in the UK and US.
11. Simply Red - 'Stars'
One of Simply Red's greatest hits, 'Stars' helped cement the band as one of the UK's strongest musical exports of the 1990s.
Its album of the same name was a huge seller, and was the UK's best-seller for BOTH 1991 and 1992!
12. REM - 'Losing My Religion'
REM guitarist Peter Buck wrote the main riff and chorus to this song on a mandolin while watching TV one day. Buck had just bought the instrument and was attempting to learn how to play it, recording the music as he practiced.
The phrase ‘losing my religion’ is an expression from the southern region of the US that means losing one’s temper. Michael Stipe said the song was about “someone who pines for someone else. It’s unrequited love, what have you.”
13. Lenny Kravitz - 'It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over'
Taken from Lenny's second album Mama Said, this song was inspired by Motown, Philly soul, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
Based on a quote from baseball legend Yogi Berra, Lenny said of the song: "That song just came out one day, and I knew it had a classic vibe. And I still love that song very much today."