By Art Tavana
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 was 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.
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.
Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger
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.
Ace of Base - The Sign 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' 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.
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 was 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.
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).