The Ten Best Selling Songs in Austria in 1996...aka "The Year of My Birth". Even though I did not consciously notice it, some of these tunes might were the first ones I heard.
The ten best selling songs of 1996 had less eurodance than the years before, but don't worry, it will come back! Instead, (mostly) excellent traditional pop music dominated the year.
Summer hits back in the 90s were somehow mostly much less annoying and far more fun to listen to. Probably because they did not try to convey this "yay it's a holiday, let's all throw a tequila party" feeling that much. "Macarena" has a pleasant, light dancehall vibe and is still catchy.
Peak position: 1
One of the few cover versions I regard as equal to the "definitive" version (Roberta Flack wasn't the original singer, but she recorded the best known version). Flack's version sounds much fuller and rich in instrumentation, but Lauryn Hill's rendition sounds as bleak as the lyrics need it to be. Flack feels cute and shy, Hill is a strong woman that feels utterly humiliated, which is also supported by the extremely minimalistic beat (apart from a few sitar sounds, it's just a drum kit) that captures this momentum of shock where everything suddenly fades around you.
By the way, this song was on top of the charts when I was born.
One of the two greatest songs Michael Jackson has ever released. I'll come to the other one later on. Here, Michael Jackson is deeply concerned with the world but he doesn't sing a heartbreaking ballad as he usually did - he is mad, furious, angry at the insanity all around. His voice and the clap-heavy beat are filled with a constant rage - the rage of a beaten martyr. This rough emotion is also why I regard "HIStory" as his best album, above "Thriller" or "Off The Wall".
Peak position: 2
What a beautiful melody. If this song shows something, then that techno isn't always cold and party oriented. Yes, this song has a stomping beat, but it's first and foremost a dreamy, enchanting, magical ride.
By the way we won't mention the other song you're all thinking of. Let's just enjoy this one.
There are some songs of which a cover version, no matter by whom, is blasphemic - "Bohemian Rhapsody" for example, Lil Meerkat. Then there are those on which are okay to cover and whose quality depend on personal taste - e.g. the beforementioned "Killing Me Softly". And then there are those evergreens that almost always sound pleasant no matter who records it. "Break My Stride" is a natural summer hit and almost every version of it has the same positive vibe from its melody alone. For Austrian group Unique II, the dancehall cover was the biggest hit, but it was big, and personally, I think it's even more fun that the original, because the singer sounds like one of the cool kids, and so casual. You can almost imagine her putting her sunglasses on and let her feet hang out of the car window.
In my opinion, one of the best hip hop songs ever recorded. Not only does the Stevie Wonder sample give it much melody, which is then expanded to epic proportions with a choir and everything, its lyrics give a good insight into the mindset of a black man being raised in the ghetto even for white people who don't live in such circumstances. It tells of worries, dreams, self reflection and a certain fatalism while acknowledging the harmful nature of his decisions.
Peak position: 1
Having spent 7 weeks on top of the charts in 1996 (plus 2 weeks in 1995), the conscious gangsta rap song was the biggest number 1 hit of the year.
Gosh, when I hear how much fun dancehall was back in the 90s, and how insanely memorable its melodies were back then (and again, how cool the female vocals sounded and how three out of four summer hits were in minor), I wish that this style would come back. Afrotrap is also heavily dancehall inspired, but it sounds nothing like it. Okay, there is lots of awesome music in the 2010s as well, but I wish the 90s style pop would coexist with it.
The folk rock / folk pop of the Kelly Family is still enchanting. And I really love that even though their image crazily stood out of the masses and was unjustly ridiculed back in the days, their music still touched so many people and made the family such legendary artists in German language territory.
Peak position: 2
One of the outstanding pop earworms of the 90s that even feels a bit folk-ish in nature and sound. It's unlike the other songs of its time. I like it, although I rarely listen to it actively.
And this is the other great Michael Jackson song I talked about. His voice is as expressive as it gets. It starts off fragile and shaky, almost helpless, asking the big question what will be with all the nature. But as the song grows, it gets stronger and stronger until it finally hits you like a force of nature himself. He is not helpless, he's ready to fight for what he believes in. It is not too late to stand up.
Peak position: 2