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The 50

The 50 Best Songs of 1993

by Dan Weiss

The 50 Best Songs of 1993


About this playlist

Welcome to The 50, a Napster scheme in which we attempt to compile the biggest, best, most historically remarkable songs of every year. Our list of 50 tracks -- presented here in no particular order, ideally flowing like a time-traveling DJ set -- has been argued over and (grudgingly) agreed upon by our full editorial staff. Please enjoy.

The year 1993 was the golden age of two genres that barely existed 10 years prior: rap and alternative rock. What rap had become by then can't be understated. From Snoop Dogg's stanky G-funk ("Who Am I [What's My Name?]") to Wu-Tang Clan's burgeoning phantasmagoria ("Protect Ya Neck") to 2Pac's thug-damaged womanism ("Keep Ya Head Up"), completely new sounds, cadences and characters were popping up, some with comic-universe-sized personalities. Meanwhile, alt rock was peaking in the form of guitar riffs and bellowed hooks, from Pearl Jam's unsettled country rock ("Daughter") to Stone Temple Pilots' reverberating imitation ("Plush"), while Nirvana wrote gospel-clear classics using the same tools ("All Apologies"), and bands like The Breeders ("Cannonball") kept the indie aesthetic alive even on a major label. Archers of Loaf ("Web in Front"), Liz Phair ("F*ck and Run") and P.J. Harvey ("50 Ft. Queenie") wrote some of the best things played on guitar, bass and drums in years, the latter two with an undeniable feminist conviction that changed the rule book entirely.

Meanwhile, country voices as disparate as Clint Black ("When My Ship Comes In") and Jimmie Dale Gilmore ("Santa Fe Thief") were hitting career strides, and R&B found new icons as singular as the auteur Meshell Ndegeocello ("If That's Your Boyfriend [He Wasn't Last Night]") and the interpreter Mariah Carey ("Hero"). Titans like Whitney Houston ("I'm Every Woman") and Michael Jackson ("Will You Be There") were transcending the genre altogether. And with the impending rise of Beavis & Butthead, even un-commercial doom metal from bands like Type O Negative ("Black No. 1") was enjoying levels of iconicity previously unheard of for such nonconformists. It's no surprise that Lollapalooza (just two years old in 1993) defined this generation's music juncture.

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