The year 1991. We saw Operation Desert Storm, the war that wasn’t a war, put into action by George Bush Sr against Saddam Hussein and his SCUD missiles. The USSR “fell”, effectively ending the fifty years long “Cold War”. A taxi driver named Rodney King was beaten by four police officers in Los Angeles, it was caught on video, and when they were acquitted, there were six days of riots. Jaycee Dugard disappeared, Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia, the first Sonic the Hedgehog game appeared on the shelves, the Dead Sea scrolls were made public for the first time, Magic Johnson retired after his HIV announcement, and Mike Tyson was arrested for assault. Actors Ben Hardy, Bonnie Wright, and Emma Roberts, singer Ed Sheeran, and rapper Tyler the Creator were all born and sadly, we lost the services of Serge Gainsbourg, Freddy Mercury, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, and Miles Davis to that bastard, death.
For me personally, the year straddled the end of my fourth and fifth years of high school. I had my first real girlfriend, though it was super short-lived and only the two of us ever really knew that it ever ‘happened’, and I got my first real job that wasn’t a paper route. My musical tastes were expanding exponentially, traversing all corners of the alternative universe, though I was looking mostly to the baggy and shoegaze scenes in England. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention a certain Seattle-based trio and a certain song that would completely change the alternative music landscape forever, a track that received the ‘honourable mention‘ treatment as a prelude to this very list.
I’m going to stop babbling now because there’s a lot of great songs to get through in this list, being one of my favourite ever years for music. Enjoy.
#30 The Real People “Open up your mind (Let me in)” (from The Real People)
#29 Pixies “Alec Eiffel” (from Trompe le monde)
#28 EMF “Unbelievable” (from Schubert dip)
#27 Ministry “Jesus built my hotrod” (from Psalm 69)
#26 Jesus Jones “International bright young thing” (from Doubt)
#25 Pearl Jam “Jeremy” (from Ten)
#24 Crash Test Dummies “Superman’s song” (from The ghosts that haunt me)
#23 Morrissey “Sing your life” (from Kill uncle)
#22 Red Hot Chili Peppers “Under the bridge” (from Blood sugar sex magik)
#21 Ned’s Atomic Dustbin “Kill your television” (from God fodder)
#20 My Bloody Valentine “Only shallow” (from Loveless)
#19 Spirit of the West “D for Democracy (Scour the house)” (from Go figure)
#18 Primus “Tommy the cat” (from Sailing the seas of cheese)
#17 Northside “Take 5” (from Chicken rhythms)
#16 Violent Femmes “American music” (from Why do birds sing?)
#15 Chapterhouse “Pearl” (from Whirlpool)
#14 Barenaked Ladies “If I had $1 000 000” (from The yellow tape)
#13 R.E.M. “Losing my religion” (from Out of time)
#12 The Farm “All together now” (from Spartacus)
#11 The Lowest of the Low “Rosy and grey” (from Shakespeare my butt)
#10 Rheostatics “Record body count” (from Melville)