Less than two decades ago, the world was a completely different place - or at least pop culture made it seem that way.
Movies like Pulp Fiction, Home Alone, The Sixth Sense, Wayne's World, Dazed and Confused, as well as Disney things like Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Zenon were brand new and still poppin', along with TV shows like Hey Arnold, Goosebumps, Lizzie McGuire, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Lab, and Boy Meets World.
Inflatable furniture and accessories, like backpacks, were all the rage, especially if they were paired with pony bead keychains and jelly shoes. Most little girls wanted an Easy Bake Oven and maybe some Beanie Babies to play with while they chatted on their see-through phone to their best friend, all while rocking a coat of shimmering silver Moon Rock-flavored Lip Smackers balm and scribbling away in their diary with their scented gel pens.
Another thing that was totally different? Music. I mean, it was an incredibly definitive era that helped to shape the way that things still are today.
It's hard to believe that the revival of pop that brought risque popstars like Britney and Christina into the spotlight and developed successful boy bands like the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC took place in the same decade as the booming Seattle grunge scene that birthed influential bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. To make it even crazier, all of that was going on while the rap scene was being defined by the artists of labels like Rockafella Records and Murda Inc!
Anyone who was alive for the 90s should have no problem recognizing these 50 artists - just like we will have no problem guessing who their favorite 90s boyband sensation was.
Pick or Pass: Christina Aguilera
In the beginning of her career, Christina was known for sultry, poppy hits like Genie in a Bottle, What a Girl Wants, and Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You), all of which were carefully orchestrated to fit with the female popstar image. She broke out on her own in the early 2000s and began releasing raunchy, urban-inspired songs like Moulin Rouge!'s Lady Marmalade - and then launched into her infamous, aggressively empowered Dirrty era.
Pick or Pass: LFO
The acronym LFO stands for Lyte Funkie Ones, which was the group's original name before they decided in the late '90s that simply LFO was catchier. All of their songs are full of humorous non sequitors, like "New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits / Chinese food makes me sick," which comes from one of their most well-known songs, Summer Girls.
Pick or Pass: Mariah Carey
In 1993, Mariah Carey was already working on her third studio album. It was intentionally crafted to carry stronger influences from pop music, in hopes of helping her career to take off more - and it worked! Her third album Music Box premiered at the top of the Billboard Top 200, but it was in November of 1994 that things truly changed. That was the year that she released "All I Want for Christmas Is You," which quickly became a classic Christmas season song around the world.
Pick or Pass: NSYNC
NSYNC originated in Orlando, Florida in 1995 with members Justin Timberlake, JZ Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass. The group's name comes from the last letter of each members' first name. Their first single was called "I Want You Back," which launched in Germany and quickly found its way to the top 10. When they came to America, it wasn't so easy to find their footing, but they managed it with the help of the Disney Channel, Janet Jackson, and TV shows including Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. By late 1998, they had two albums in the Billboard Top 10 at the same time: their eponymous debut and their holiday-themed release, Home for Christmas.
Pick or Pass: Duran Duran
Duran Duran is a band that was around much before the 1990s. Although they enjoyed popularity in that decade, they were actually a key part of the New Romantic pop culture movement in the 1970s. In the 90s, their single Electric Barbarella was the first single to ever be sold online. Popular 90s hits from the band include Out of My Mind, Come Undone and Ordinary World.
Pick or Pass: Guns N Roses
Guns N Roses, also known as GNR, was founded five years before the 1990s in 1985 with members Axl Rose, Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan, and Steven Addler. Their most popular song was Sweet Child o' Mine, which dropped in 1987 but maintained its popularity throughout the years. In the 1990s, some of their most popular hits were November Rain, Knockin' on Heavin's Door and Sympathy for the Devil.
Pick or Pass: Backstreet Boys
One of the only groups from the decade that is still active with all of its original members, the Backstreet Boys is a genuine phenomena from the mid-90s. Their international debut album, Backstreet Boys, set the standard for boy bands everywhere, and had a rocking influence on the pop music genre as a whole. Their most popular 90s hits include I Want It That Way, As Long As You Love Me, Quit Playing Games, but there are many others, too.
Pick or Pass: Blink-182
This Californian band's most well-known lineup featured vocalist/guitarist Tom Delonge, vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus, and drummer Travis Barker. Their 1999 album, Enema of the State, was definitive for the pop punk genre. To this day, some of the band's most iconic songs are from that album, including All the Small Things and What's My Age Again?
Pick or Pass: Kelis
New York songstress Kelis Rogers is generally known by her first name, Kelis. Her most popular song, Milkshake, wasn't released until 2003, but she her first album Kaleidoscope was an international success in 1999, featuring a number of popular singles including Caught Out Here, Get Along With You, and Good Stuff.
Pick or Pass: Aaliyah
This New York songstress was born as Aaliyah Dana Haughton, but came to be known as simply Aaliyah. Even as a teenager, she showed an abundance of talent and potential, with a natural rhythm and powerful vocal range. Among her 90s hits are If Your Girl Only Knew, One in a Million, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, and Are You That Somebody, which was for Eddie Murphy's 1998 film, Dr. Doolittle.
Pick or Pass: Lil Kim
Back in the 90s, Kimberly Denise Jones (better known as Lil Kim) was second to none. She was the queen of the rap game with an impressive repertoire of hits from her certified double platinum debut album, Hardcore, which featured popular singles Not Tonight, Crush on You, and No Time.
Pick or Pass: Michael Jackson
Iconic, innovative musician and dancer, Michael Jackson, has been dubbed the King of Pop. He started out as a member of the Jackson 5 with his brothers, but he ultimately made a name for himself as a solo artist. His most well-known songs come from his 1987 album, Bad, which still reigned supreme in the 1990s with hits like Bad, Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel, and Man in the Mirror.
Pick or Pass: Destiny's Child
In its most well-known formation, Destiny's Child featured Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams, but when their 1999 album, The Writing's on the Wall, featured Beyoncé, Kelly, LaTavia Roberson, and LeToya Luckett. The album was a huge success and laid the platform for the group's later work, featuring defenitive songs like Jumpin', Jumpin', Say My Name, Bug a Boo, and Bills, Bills, Bills.
Pick or Pass: TLC
This girl group consisted of three members, Tionne Watkins, Lisa Lopes, and Rozonda Thomas. The name comes from their nicknames, T-Boz, Left-Eye, and Chilli, respectively. The group offered a diverse range of smooth vocals and well-executed rap verses that made them successful. Their popular songs include No Scrubs, Waterfalls, Unpretty, and Creep.
Pick or Pass: Def Leppard
Def Leppard formed in Sheffield, England in the year 1977 as an influential contributor to British heavy metal's new wave. In 1991, they lost their lead guitarist, Steve Clark, to his vices but they soldiered on to release their fifth album, Adrenalize, approximately a year later in 1992. It featured popular hits like Let's Get Rocked, Heaven Is, White Lightning, Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad, and Tonight.
Pick or Pass: Usher
Atlanta's Usher Raymond is a singer, songwriter, and dancer who's known simply by his first name. His eponymous debut album was released in 1994, but it was met with backlash because of his age in comparison to the explicit nature of the songs. His second album, My Way, was released in 1997, and it was significantly more successful, featuring platinum singles Nice & Slow, My Way, and You Make Me Wanna, the latter of which received the 1999 Soul Train Music Award for Best Male R&B/Soul Single.
Pick or Pass: Nirvana
Aberdeen, Washington-formed grunge band Nirvana turned the tides for the alternative rock scene in the early 1990s. They had an abrasive, cutting-edge sound that went against everything that was mainstream - which is exactly why they were so beloved. Vocalist Kurt Cobain is often referred to as the voice of Generation X, and the band itself is considered to be the generation's flagship band. Among countless popular songs are Smells Like Teen Spirit, Heart-Shaped Box, About a Girl, Come as You Are, Lithium, The Man Who Sold the World, and Dumb.
Pick or Pass: Eve
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Eve Jihan Jeffers-Cooper is better known by simply her first name, Eve. She's landed a couple of different acting gigs throughout her career, but she's mostly a rapper, whose name really blew up when she collabed with Gwen Stefani in the early 2000s. Her debut certified double-platinum album dropped in 1999, titled Let There Be Eve...Ruff Ryders' First Lady (which was indicative of the fact that she was a part of DMX's label,) featuring popular songs Gotta Man and Love Is Blind.
Pick or Pass: Ja Rule
Jeffrey Bruce Atkins from Queens, New York, is better known by his stage name as Ja Rule. Jay-Z's 1998 single Can I Get A was originally intended to be a solo song for Ja, who wrote the hook, but the two wound up collaborating instead. His solo album, Venni Vetti Vecci, dropped approximately a year later in 1999, featuring the hit single Holla Holla which single-handedly caused it to achieve platinum status.
Pick or Pass: Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are a group of musicians from New York. In the 90s, their music was one-of-a-kind because their hip hop vibe was strongly influenced by their roots as a hardcore punk band. Their most popular songs from the decade include Intergalactic, Sabotage, Sure Shot, So What'cha Want, Pass the Mic, Get It Together, and Body Movin'.
Pick or Pass: Dixie Chicks
One of the most popular songs in the late 90s was a country song by a group called the Dixie Chicks. They had plenty of other hits, like Ready to Run, Wide Open Spaces, and Cowboy Take Me Away, but the one that really took off was called Goodbye Earl. It was a macabre but catchy song about best friends teaming up to put an end to one of their husbands' mistreatment - for good.
Pick or Pass: LeAnn Rimes
Margaret LeAnn Rimes Cibrian is known professionally as simply LeAnn Rimes. Her 1996 debut album, Blue, was certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. Her second album, You Light Up My Life: Inspirational Songs, which released in 1997, drifted toward a country pop twang and helped to set the standard for the genre. Some of her most popular songs from the 90s are How Do I Live, One Way Ticket, You Light Up My Life, and Big Deal.
Pick or Pass: 2Pac
Tupac Shakur is widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Many modern hip hop artists credit him for influencing them. Nearly ever song he released was incredibly popular, particularly following his early passing, including hits like California Love, Brenda's Got a Baby, Ghetto Gospel, Only God Can Judge Me, Dear Mama, and Keep Ya Head Up.
Pick or Pass: Sisqó
In the late 90s, Mark Althavan Andrews (better known as Sisqó) strayed from his position in the group Dru Hill and began working on music as a solo artist. In 1999, his debut album called Unleash the Dragon was released to critical acclaim. It featured raunchy pop-influenced hits that were majorly successful, including the infamous Thong Song.
Pick or Pass: LL Cool J
He's mostly doing acting nowadays but back in the 90s, LL Cool J was an incredibly well-known rapper. His late-80s hit, I Need Love, stayed relevant in the next decade, but it was quickly overshadowed by his fourth studio album, Mama Said Knock You Out. The award-winning album featured the eponymous single as well as, Around the Way Girl, The Boomin' System, and Jingling Baby.
Pick or Pass: Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson was portrayed as a more wholesome and innocent pop star, in contrast to her risque peers, so that young girls would find her more relatable. Her successful debut album, Sweet Kisses, was lyrically and visually representative of her coy, girlish image. It featured popular songs like debut single I Wanna Love You Forever, Where You Are, I Think I'm in Love With You, and Woman in Me, the latter of which featured Destiny's Child.
Pick or Pass: Eminem
Marshall Bruce Mathers, better known as Eminem, really started to make a name for himself in the late 90s when he premiered his violent alter ego on a 1997 eponymous EP. In 1999, he released The Slim LP, which featured numerous popular songs including 97 Bonnie & Clyde, My Name Is, and Role Model.
Pick or Pass: Enrique Iglesias
Born in Madrid, Spain, Enrique Iglesias is known as the King of Latin Pop.. Most of his releases in the 90s were in Spanish, but his debut English language album was released in 1999, which featured Rhythm Divine, Sad Eyes, and Could I Have This Kiss Forever, which was a duet with Whitney Houston. He also contributed a chart-topping single called Bailamos to the 1999 film Wild Wild West at Will Smith's request.
Pick or Pass: Oasis
British rock band Oasis set records with their 1994 debut album, Definitely Maybe, but the album that they're most known for nowadays is their second studio album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? The 1995 album, which has been named one of the best-selling albums of all time, features the band's most iconic song, Wonderwall, as well as Some Might Say, Don't Look Back in Anger, and Champagne Supernova.
Pick or Pass: Britney Spears
Iconic and resilient, it's easy to see why Britney Spears is the Princess of Pop. Her debut studio album ...Baby One More Time was released in 1999, and it was incredibly successful on the charts, even though it received mixed reviews from music critics. It was one of the all-time best selling albums, with the RIIA giving it a 14× platinum (diamond) certification. It featured iconic pop songs like the eponymous single, ...Baby One More Time, (You Drive Me) Crazy, Sometimes, From the Bottom of My Broken Heart, Soda Pop, and Born to Make You Happy.
Pick or Pass: Spice Girls
This English pop group was a smash hit in the 90s. It was made up of Melanie Brown aka Scary Spice, Melanie Chisholm aka Sporty Spice, Emma Bunton aka Baby Spice, Geri Halliwell aka Ginger Spice, and Victoria Beckham/Adams aka Posh Spice. Their iconic debut single Wannabe dropped in 1996. Their albums, Spice (1996) and Spiceworld (1997), did well enough that they're still the all-time best-selling girl group today.
Pick or Pass: Metallica
Los Angeles metal band Metallica was formed in 1981. Their self-titled fifth studio album dropped in 1991 and the shift from thrash metal to heavy metal helped to push them more into the mainstream. The album featured their iconic song, Enter Sandman, as well as other hits like Sad but True, The Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Don't Tread on Me, Nothing Else Matters, and The God That Failed.
Pick or Pass: Whitney Houston
The late Whitney Elizabeth Houston has been named by Guiness World Records as the all-time most awarded female artist. She is also one of the all-time best-selling musical artists. She was an etheral performer with a powerful, mesmerizing voice. When she starred in the 1992 romantic thriller The Bodyguard, she recorded multiple songs for the soundtrack, including her most iconic hit, I Will Always Love You, which made musical history as the all-time best-selling single by a female artist.
Pick or Pass: Madonna
Madonna Louise Ciccone is known simply as Madonna, but you may also know her as the Queen of Pop, a title that she claimed in the 1980s and still holds to this day. She was a fearless risk taker that embraced her femininity from a young age, challenging the boundaries set for female artists. Her most popular songs from the 90s are Vogue, Substitute for Love, I'll Remember, Bedtime Story, Take A Bow, Don't Cry for Me Argentina, and Bad Girl, but there are countless others.
Pick or Pass: Brandy
Singer-songwriter and actress Brandy Norwood is known mononymously as Brandy. Her self-titled debut album featured chart-topping singles I Wanna Be Down, Baby, and Brokenhearted, which featured Boyz II Men's Wanya Morris. In 1998, she collaborated with fellow songtress Monica on a smash hit called The Boy Is Mine, which went down in musical history as the all-time most successful song by a female duo.
Pick or Pass: Monica
This chart-topping R&B songtress may be best known as simply Monica, but she was born in Georgia as Monica Denise Arnold. Her 1995 debut album, Miss Thang, featured hits Like This and Like That fear. Mr. Malik, Tell Me If You Still Care, Let's Straighten It Out feat. Usher, Don't Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days). In 1998, she released an album called The Boy Is Mine, which featured a duet with singer Brandy of the same name that went down in history as the all-time best-selling song by a female duo.
Pick or Pass: Missy Elliott
Melissa Elliott is better known as Missy Elliott. She was an icon for the entire decade of the 90s, staring off in an all-female R&B group called Sisa, then becoming a part of the same collective as Timbaland, called Swing Mob. Her solo career launched in 1997 when she dropped Supa Dupa Fly, featuring chart-topping single Sock It 2 Me.
Pick or Pass: Faith Hill
This angelic country singer's real name is Audrey Faith McGraw (originally Perry) but she's known as Faith Hill. She released two albums prior to 1998, but she truly started to accomplish mainstream success with her self-titled third album, Faith, which featured her internationally iconic song, This Kiss, and her fourth album, Breathe, which featured her best-selling singles, The Way You Love Me, and the eponymous track, Breathe.
Pick or Pass: Ginuwine
He's known as simply Ginuwine but this R&B artist's real name is Elgin Baylor Lumpkin. He was a member of Swing Mob in the early 1990s, but he broke out as a solo artist in the mid-1990s. His 1996 debut album, Ginuwine...the Bachelor achieved double platinum status, and featured his iconic single, Pony, as well as Tell Me What U Wanna Do, Holler, and When Doves Cry.
Pick or Pass: Jay-Z
New York City rapper Shawn Corey Carter is known by his professional name, Jay-Z. His debut album, Reasonable Doubt, dropped in 1996 to critical acclaim, but his most successful album was his 1998 release, Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life. It featured two of his most iconic 90s songs, Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) and Can I Get A... which featured Amil and Ja Rule.
Pick or Pass: Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes is a stage name that takes inspiration from NFL/CLF wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes. The rapper's real name is Trevor George Smith Jr. The Coming, his debut solo album, dropped in 1995, featuring Woo Hah!! Got You All in Check and It's a Party. His second album, When Disaster Strikes... dropped in 1997, featuring Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See, Dangerous, and Turn It Up.
Pick or Pass: Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John's career has spanned over five decades. He has enjoyed immense success and is known as one of the most influential musicians of all time. He held at least one spot in the Billboard Hot 100 for 30 consecutive years, from 1970 - 2000. He was featured on the soundtrack for Disney's The Lion King with Circle of Life and Can You Feel The Love Tonight? Other popular songs from the 90s include Candle in the Wind, Don't Let the Sun Go Down (with George Michael), and Don't Go Breaking My Heart (with Kiki Dee).
Pick or Pass: Tim McGraw
Country singer and songwriter Tim McGraw was one of the first male singers in his genre to embrace the crossover with pop when he released his fourth studio album, Everywhere, in 1997. It featured a duet with his wife, Faith Hill, called It's Your Love, as well as Just to See You Smile, Where the Green Grass Grows, For a Little While, One of These Days, and the eponymous track, Everywhere. However, it should be stated that he had already made a name for himself with songs such as Don't Take the Girl, Down on the Farm, Maybe We Should Just Sleep on It, and I Like It, I Love It.
Pick or Pass: Juvenile
Rapper Juvenile's real name is Terius Gray. When his career first began in 1995, he was only 20 years old, and his debut album, Being Myself, dropped without much notice. His second album, 400 Degreez, gained national traction, and pushed him into the mainstream spotlight, mostly thanks to two popular singles, Ha and Back That Azz Up.
Pick or Pass: Pearl Jam
In the year 1990, rock band Pearl Jam got together in Washington, where they were crucial part of the Seattle grunge scene, although Nirvana's Kurt Cobain once accused them of being commercial sellouts. Their macabre, classic rock-influenced debut album, Ten, dropped in 1991, featuring Alive, Even Flow, and Jeremy. The album went 13x platinum and is one of the best-selling rock records of all time.
Pick or Pass: Foo Fighters
After Nirvana's Kurt Cobain passed away, the band's drummer, Dave Grohl, started the Foo Fighters, in which he was the only official member. When the band's debut self-titled album was released in 1995, he had written and recorded the entire album for himself, save for a small guitar contribution from Greg Dulli. It was a highly successful album, featuring I'll Stick Around, This Is a Call, Alone + Easy Target, Big Me, Exhausted, and For All the Cows.
Pick or Pass: Aerosmith
The Bad Boys from Boston, Aerosmith, formed their rock and roll band in the 1970s, but they were still both active and popular in the 1990s. Their eleventh studio album dropped in 1993, featuring singles Eat the Rich, Fever, Livin' on the Edge, Shut Up and Dance, Cryin', Crazy, and Amazing. Their twelfth studio album, Nine Lives, hit shelves in 1997, which featured singles Nine Loves, Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees), Hole in My Soul, Taste of India, and Pink.
Pick or Pass: Smashing Pumpkins
In Chicago, Illinois, in the year 1988, the alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins was formed. The band focused on releasing powerful, diverse music that didn't shy away from the guitar, taking inspiration from countless genres, such as gothic, psychedelic, and progressive rock, electronica, and dream pop. Their second studio album, Siamese Dream (1993), was remarkably successful and helped to push them into mainstream success, featuring singles Cherub Rock, Today, Disarm, and Rocket. Their 1995 release, Mellon Collie, featured Bullet with Butterfly Wings, 1979, Zero, Thirty-Three, and Tonight, Tonight.
Pick or Pass: Alanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill (1995) may not have been the first album released by singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, but it was easily the most iconic. With heartfelt angsty lyrics and a beautiful blend of post-grunte and pop rock, it's a mid-90s classic. It featured popular singles All I Really Want, Hand in My Pocket, You Oughta Know, You Learn, and Head over Feet - but all of those pale in comparison to the infamous Ironic, the genuine irony of which is still debated to this day.
Pick or Pass: No Doubt
Californian rock band No Doubt is where the iconic Gwen Stefani got her start. They were an unapologetic band that enjoyed challenging boundaries and mixing genres, particularly since they consistently maintained a ska-influenced sound. Among their most popular songs in the 90s were Don't Speak, Hey Baby, and Underneath It All.