The Top 10 Pop Songs of the Year 1990

Madona performing with hat on


Frank Micelotta Archive/Contributor/Getty Images

Here are the best of the best of the pop songs that kicked off the last decade of the 20th century.

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Heart - "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You"

Heart All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You


The rock band Heart hit the pop top 10 for the final time with this rock ballad that they have since indicated they dislike and rarely play in concert. "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" was originally written for Don Henley of the Eagles to record solo by Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The song implies the story of a woman who makes love to a stranger in order to become pregnant and raise a child with her infertile partner. The frank content generated controversy around the song, but it peaked at #2 on the pop chart. Heart earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo or Group. 

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Bell Biv Devoe - "Poison"

Bell Biv Devoe Poison


New Edition may have come to an end but group members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe proved they could create their own pop classics without the higher profile New Edition alumni Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant. "Poison" was the trio's first single and it went to #3 on the pop chart and has been certified platinum for sales. The recording trio was formed at the suggestion of producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. "Poison" hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the R&B singles chart. It earned a platinum certification for selling more than one million copies.

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Faith No More - "Epic"

Faith No More Epic


What happens when you toss together heavy metal guitar chords, funk, and hip-hop beats? You are likely to get something like Faith No More's breakthrough single "Epic." The song served as a prototype for later blends of rock and rap. The album The Real Thing, which includes "Epic," was the first Faith No More album featuring Mike Patton as lead vocalist. The accompanying music video generated controversy for its imagery of a fish flopping around out of water that appeared to be in distress. "Epic" peaked at #9 on the pop chart.

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Digital Underground - "The Humpty Dance"

Digital Underground The Humpty Dance

Tommy Boy

"The Humpty Dance" introduced pop audiences to the wry, clever rap of Digital Underground. The song tells the tale of the fictional character "Humpty Hump," a buffoon with Grouch Marx glasses who, nevertheless, was deemed very successful at sexual seduction. "The Humpty Dance" was a #1 rap hit and reached #11 on the pop singles chart. The song incorporates samples from music by both Parliament and Sly and the Family Stone. Later "The Humpty Dance" became one of the most often sampled rap songs itself.

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Janet Jackson - "Escapade"

Janet Jackson Escapade


This hit from Janet Jackson makes you want to join her in celebration. The music video has a Mardi Gras carnival theme. "Escapade" landed at #1 on the pop, dance, and R&B charts. It is the third of seven top 10 pop hit singles from the album Rhythm Nation 1814. Janet Jackson has stated that "Escapade" was influenced by the 1965 top 10 hit "Nowhere To Run" by Martha and the Vandellas. 

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MC Hammer - "U Can't Touch This"

MC Hammer U Can't Touch This


M.C. Hammer built his massive hit single "U Can't Touch This" around a riff from Rick James' "Super Freak." Consequently, Rick James sued, but the pair settled out of court with Rick James added to the credits as a recipient of royalties for the massive sales of "U Can't Touch This." M.C. Hammer won Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song and Best Rap Solo Performance. "U Can't Touch This" peaked at #8 on the pop singles chart in the US. It was also a major pop hit single around the world. It peaked at #1 in Australia, the Netherlands, and Sweden among other countries.

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Mariah Carey - "Vision Of Love"

Mariah Carey Vision of Love


This song was Mariah Carey's first introduction to pop audiences. "Vision Of Love" was one of the songs she brought with her when signed to a recording contract by Columbia Records. It was included on the demo tape that made it into the hands of Tommy Mottola prior to her signing. Nine weeks after first hitting the Billboard Hot 100, "Vision Of Love" became Mariah Carey's first #1 hit and many still consider it among her best. The song spent four weeks at #1. It earned Grammy Award nominations for both Record and Song of the Year while winning Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

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Deee-Lite - "Groove Is In the Heart"

Deee Lite Groove Is In the Heart


The New York based dance trio Deee-Lite first introduced themselves to club audiences by topping the dance chart with "Groove Is In the Heart." Then the song crossed over into pop territory and the effervescent pastiche of funk, jazz, and disco climbed to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Groove Is In the Heart" features Parliament and Funkadelic member Bootsy Collins playing bass as well as a guest rap from Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. It was the first of six #1 dance hit singles by Deee-Lite.

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Madonna - "Vogue"

Madonna Vogue

Warner Bros.

"Vogue" was originally intended as a Madonna B-side. It was inspired by the gay underground's dance known as "voguing" in which dancers combine gestures and body movements to imitate Hollywood stars and those featured on the cover of magazines like Vogue. The finished song was considered to be too good to be relegated to B-side status and was instead released as an A-side. "Vogue" then became a #1 hit around the world and one of the bestselling songs of the year worldwide. It also topped the dance chart and reached the top 20 on the R&B singles chart. David Fincher directed the celebrated black and white music video for "Vogue."  

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Sinead O'Connor - "Nothing Compares 2 U"

Sinead O'Connor Nothing Compares 2 U


The song "Nothing Compares 2 U" was written by Prince and the first recording was released by his protege group The Family in 1985. That version gave no inkling of the power that was to come when Sinead O'Connor covered the song for her album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. "Nothing Compares 2 U" went to #1 around the world and pushed the album to #1 and double platinum sales in the US. The accompanying music video is quite powerful as well including an intense closeup of Sinead O'Connor's with two tears rolling down her cheeks. "Nothing Compares 2 U" earned Grammy Award nominations for Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal. The album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Performance.

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