The most significant change in the compilation of weekly singles charts took place in 1992 when the historic methods of ranking records by call-outs to record stores and radio stations were replaced by tabulations from digital scans at the point-of-sale. The average total of #1 hits per year dropped dramatically and the genres represented became more inclusive.
The big winner on the Top 40 in the ‘90s was rap/hip-hop and its sibling genre R&B/ dance.
The decade gave us two iconic rappers, linked forever by their tragic murders: 2Pac (Tupac Shakur) age 25 and The Notorious B.I.G./Biggie Smalls age 24.
Female R&B trios TLC and SWV (Sisters With Voices) made strong showings on the Top 40.
In fact…gender-wise females ruled, notably Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Their combined stats were staggering: 50 Top 10 sides, of which 23 reached #1. They were joined in 1999 by future stars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
Boy bands became all the rage with teens, the biggest of which was Boyz II Men with eight platinum singles. Joining them by decade’s end were Backstreet Boys and *NSync.
As for rock, most of the action was on the album chart with prominent showings by Nirvana, Peral Jam, Guns N’ Roses, and Red Hit Chili Peppers.
The decade closed out with an explosion of Latin tracks on the pop charts, including “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” and “Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of…).”
This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.