Top 10 Pop Songs of 1992

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10. Eric Clapton - "Tears In Heaven"

Eric Clapton Tears In Heaven
Eric Clapton - "Tears In Heaven". Courtesy Warner Bros.

Rock legend Eric Clapton wrote this song in response to the tragic, accidental death of his four year old son Conor. It touched an emotional chord among pop fans and became one of the biggest hits of Eric Clapton's career peaking at #2. Eric Clapton also took home Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Male Pop Vocal Performance. "Tears In Heaven" was also included on the soundtrack to the movie Rush. Eric Clapton co-wrote the song with Will Jennings who is known for writing to the lyrics to "My Heart Will Go On," the love theme for Titanic.

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9. Arrested Development - "Tennessee"

Arrested Development Tennessee
Arrested Development - "Tennessee". Courtesy Chrysalis

Arrested Development introduced a vein of positive, Afrocentric rap to the pop charts with their breakthrough single "Tennessee." The group was formed by rapper Todd "Speech" Thomas and turntable artist Timothy "Headliner" Barnwell. The song won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo Or Group. It also went to #6 on the pop singles chart and topped the R&B chart. It earned a Grammy Award for Best Rep Performance By a Duo or Group and Arrested Development took home the Best New Artist honor. "Tennessee" contains a sample from Prince's "Alphabet St."

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8. Boyz II Men - "End Of the Road"

Boyz II Men End of the Road
Boyz II Men - "End of the Road". Courtesy Motown

Boyz II Men uncorked the biggest Motown hit single of all time with this classic of romantic pain. It surpassed the earlier achievements of the Jackson 5's "I'll Be There." The song was recorded for the soundtrack of Eddie Murphy's movie Boomerang. It set an all-time record of 13 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 until that mark was surpassed just a few months later by Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." It also reached #1 on the R&B chart. "End Of the Road" earned two Grammy Award nominations for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group With Vocals. 

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7. House of Pain - "Jump Around"

House Of Pain - Jump Around
House Of Pain - "Jump Around". Courtesy XL Recordings

After one time of hearing this riveting blend of rap and rock, you will likely never forget the sampled saxophone squeal from Jr. Walker and the All Stars that leads off every bar. "Jump Around" also includes two other samples. The horn intro comes from Bob & Earl's 1963 "Harlem Shuffle." Chubby Checker's "Popeye (The Hitchhiker)" is the third recording sampled. This white hip hop trio climbed all the way to #3 on the pop singles chart with this party classic. In the mid-1990's House of Pain broke up with group member Everlast continuing on to a successful solo career and DJ Lethal joining the rap group Limp Bizkit. 

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6. Michael Jackson - "Black Or White"

Michael Jackson - Black or White
Michael Jackson - "Black or White". Courtesy Epic

"Black Or White" is one of the most ambitious of Michael Jackson's singles in his already stunning career. Musically it blends elements of dance music, rap, and hard rock. Traditionally the guitar riff that is a centerpiece of "Black Or White" has been credited to Slash of Guns 'n Roses, but in a 2010 interview he denied having played it. The song went to #1 around the world and sold more than a million copies in the US. "Black Or White" was the first single from the album Dangerous. It hit #1 in just three weeks. The song was released to radio stations just two days in advance of the internationally televised premiere of the accompanying music video.

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5. Wreckz-N-Effect - "Rump Shaker"

Wreckz-N-Effect - Rump Shaker
Wreckz -N-Effect - "Rump Shaker". Courtesy MCA

"Rump Shaker" was in part a product of new jack swing architect Teddy Riley and in part a product of his protege Pharrell Williams who worked on the song's lyrics. Although the song inevitably received criticism for objectification of the female anatomy, "Rump Shaker" is unmistakably catchy and memorable. The recording includes a saxophone sample from "Darkest Light" by the Lafayette Afro Rock Band and a drum sample from "Midnight Theme" by Manzel. "Rump Shaker" peaked at #2 on the pop chart while hitting the top 10 on the dance chart.

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4. Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Under the Bridge"

Red Hot Chili Peppers Under the Bridge
Red Hot Chili Peppers - "Under the Bridge". Courtesy Warner Bros.

The poignant lyrics written by Red Hot Chili Peppers lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis for "Under the Bridge" emerged out of the feelings of despondency and loneliness while he battled drug addiction. The ballad connected strongly with mainstream pop audiences, and it became the band's first top 10 pop hit peaking at #2. Anthony Kiedis originally thought "Under the Bridge" would not fit with the rest of his band's music, but producer Rick Rubin convinced him to share it. "Under the Bridge" also reached the top 10 at both alternative and rock radio. 

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3. U2 - "Mysterious Ways"

U2 - Mysterious Ways
U2 - "Mysterious Ways". Courtesy Island

"Mysterious Ways" began life as an improvised demo. The band U2 in particular liked the bass line Adam Clayton created. However, finding a proper melody to fit the bass part proved difficult. The song finally made progress when guitar player The Edge introduced a new pedal-based sound. "Mysterious Ways" was one of the most funky songs the band had yet recorded. With critical acclaim at its back, the song reached #9 on the pop singles chart. "Mysterious Ways" is included on the album Achtung Baby. The song was a #1 hit at both alternative and rock radio. Achtung Baby earned a Grammy Award nomination for Album of the Year.

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2. Whitney Houston - "I Will Always Love You"

Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You
Whitney Houston - "I Will Always Love You". Courtesy Arista

At the time, the 14 weeks Whitney Houston spent at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with "I Will Always Love You" was an all-time chart record. The 11 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart set a record as well. The song itself began as a country hit by Dolly Parton, but it is the Whitney Houston version, with a riveting a capella opening, that became one of the biggest hits of the 1990s. "I Will Always Love You" twice reached #1 on the country chart in Dolly Parton's version, first in 1974 and again in 1982 when it was included in the soundtrack for the film The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Whitney Houston's version was recorded for the film The Bodyguard.

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1. Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Courtesy DGC Records

Few really saw this coming on the pop charts. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain did admit in interviews he was, "trying to write the ultimate pop song." However, most industry insiders thought the song was far too heavy for mainstream pop consumption. After pop music fans first saw the video on MTV, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" generated a frenzy. Ultimately, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" peaked at #6 on the pop singles chart and suddenly alternative rock had entered the mainstream with a vengeance. The song earned two Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Hard Rock Performance.