There’s something about the 1990s that some of us refuses to let go. Perhaps a lot of things nowadays are so mundane or hard on us that we want to reflect on the golden years. Many of us, 90s kids, fully appreciated this decade for being so fun and a bunch of stuff is happening all at once that it would make a historian sweat researching about it. Weather if it’s the video games, the movies, comic books, television programs, the music, or any other releases, we still go back to the last decade before we’ve entered the 21st Century. Sometimes whenever we encounter something that was released in the 1990s, I stumble to look at the back of the object and see what year was it released. I find it important to me to know that sort of information because I some of them as a historical artifact; it’s more significant to me than you realize. That’s the reason why I’m composing the top 10 years of the 1990s based on releases and historical significance. Since none of us can remember almost everything from every year, I’m only judging each year on how much fun they were to many of us. Releases are important because we’re looking at what kept us interested when we were living in those 365 days and the historical significance is more important because we need to have something that represents not only that year but also the whole decade as well. Admittedly I’m only focusing at first world countries but that’s the main focus here. No decade is perfect and neither is there a “perfect” year, so I can’t speak for everybody on that. However, I can still reflect on how much fun everyone is having at the time so what’s what I’m looking at in my final top 10 list of the 1990s.
Number 10. – 1993
I really don’t think that 1993 was at all a good year due to the fact that the only highlights, looking back at 1993, were Jurassic Park, Nirvana’s second Album In Utero, Simease Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, and the launch of WWF’s Monday Night Raw. Sure, Bill Clinton was elected as president in 1993, but honestly I have no desire of coming back to 1993. Maybe it’s because it’s really a bad year in the 1990s, but really there’s not much note worthy to discuss about. Sega dominated the video game market in this year, many consoles were toasted and Nintendo just didn’t know what the fuck they were doing in this year. Plus this was when Michael Jackson was accused for child molestation charges and that wrecked the singer’s reputation as King of Pop. And it doesn’t help that the legendary professional wrestler André the Giant passed away in this year. Meanwhile nt everything was horrible released in this year. The US and Soviet Union sign Start II reducing nuclear warheads by 3,500 each. And finally, Michael Jordan had his best years in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. There were debuting shows like Monday Night Raw, Animaniacs, The X-Files, Beavis and Butt-Head, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the underrated Sonic The Hedgehog (Sonic SatAM) was released in this very year. Hate to sound harsh (especially those who actually had a good time in this year) but 1993 was very mundane.
Number 9. – 1995
Being that is is the on the half of the decade, 1995 was the year were the old were fading away and the new things were coming in. This is the year where the digital electronics became the norm for society. From Windows 95, video games coming to 3D graphics, and having our first animated film entirely in CGI graphics with the beloved Toy Story, 1995 was important for making technology to not just be for nerds, but for the entire world as well. There were debuting consoles like the Sony Playstation (who were entering in the gaming industry after Nintendo humiliated them with their SNES CD Add-on deal) and Sega was jump shifting to the 32-bit systems with the Sega Saturn. However, the Super Nintendo was still popular (thanks to Donkey Kong Country) and it was able to withstand against the 32-bit systems. 1995 is also historical for having OJ Simpson found not guilty and Bill Clinton confirms that Area 51 exists. But the reason why 1995 is at the bottom of the list is because there were so many deaths happening around the world in 1995. There were A magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurs near Kobe, Japan, killing 6,433 people, Jerry Garcia (band member of the Grateful Dead) passed away, and so many more. Plus, like any decade, this was the middle of the decade so there’s really no sense of significance from being the beginning and the ending of the decade.
Number 8. – 1990
I understand that there are people that like the 1980s more than the 1990s, but if you’re a huge fan of the 80’s, this is pretty much your favorite year of the 1990s. I certainly do not remember what 1990 was like, since I was just born, but judging by the history books, everyone still had their mind set in the 1980′s as the fads, fashion, and 80′s music is still around and live back then. Regardless, 1990 was already starting it’s era when Sega advertised the Sega Genesis “Sega Does What Nintendon’t” and since then, it became a whole new generation of video games. Gone where all those times of having the best graphics on arcades as 16-bit finally gave us that opportunity to play at home, Nintendo was no longer in the comfort zone in remaining on top, and the birth of the console wars has started its popularity. Meanwhile in the movie world, films like Goodfellas somehow dominated over the likes of Godfather in the gangster genre of movies, The Little Mermaid started the Disney Renaissance begun, the Back to the Future trilogy came to a close, Home Alone became was John Hughes’s comedic masterpiece, Scharzenegger was in his most creative sci fi adventure in Total Recall, and the TMNT movie still remains the best cartoon to live-action movie of all time! For the first year of the 1990s (while still looking like it’s still the 1980s) was a great start! And yet, it’s so low on the list, which means that this decade is a great one!
Number 7. – 1992
A year after what is the standard of the 1990s decade, 1992 became a great follow up to the awesomeness of 1991, but not quite as good. There were historical events that somehow made part of the world better like Quebec votes to remain part of Canada, El Salvador signed peace agreements between the leftist rebels and the rightist government, and The Cold War (after so many decades of East and West fighting each other) finally ends! It’s really interesting to see that this year in gaming, since we already have Genesis and SNES competing against each other, there were so many remarkable titles released this year that not only continue to revolutionize the gaming industry but also started new genres that are still expanding to this very day; like Wolfenstien 3D started the FPS, Alone in the Dark for Survival Horror, and Dune II for Real-Time Strategy. It was a year of new beginnings and top tear franchise installments! Meanwhile in the movie world, Disney released the legendary Aladdin, Quentin Tarantino made his filmmaking debut with Reservoir Dogs, and Unforgiven became Clint Eastwood’s best hit in years! This is also the year where Alternative Rock had acceptance in the mainstream with Alice in Chain’s Dirt, Faith No More’s Angel Dust, REM’s Automatic for the People, Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes, Rage Against the Machine’s debut album made audience’s heads turn from their comfort zone with 80’s music. All that’s left to be desired was for 1992 to be better than 1991.
Number 6. – 1997
From where we’re sitting, the late 1990s were a great purity to attach the phrase “Back in the day…” The year 1997 is a great representation of golden era giving birth to so many releases. It was a year where emotional times were erupting to ourselves and it was for us to dig deep. Thing like Final Fantasy 7, Radiohead’s OK Computer, Titanic, Chasing Amy, Goodwill Hunting, Modest Mouse’s Lonesome Crowded West, Bjork’s Homogenic were there to help us to give us a good cry. 1997 was a year of sad times for us because Notorious BIG was murdered, Married with Children was cancelled, Diana Princess of Wales is killed in a car crash, and the Montreal Screwjob. Sounds like a depressing/horrible year, however there were certainly a lot of fun that came out in 1997. Final Fantasy 7 revolutionized the gaming world with it’s amazing graphics, phenomenal storytelling, and memorable characters that helped the Sony Playstation to beat Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn’s consoles sales. There were fun films like Liar Liar, Con Air, Starship Troopers, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and The Fifth Element that made all of us uplifted from humanity’s dark times. Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield’s ear during a match and is suspended from boxing. 1997 was also a year of groundbreaking record sales Microsoft becomes the worlds most valuable company valued at $261 billion dollars with the success of the Windows operating system. Titanic made an all-time best selling box office hit grossing up to $2,186,772,302, and Final Fantasy 7 sold 9.72 million units. 1997 is a year of business success and also enduring society’s dark times.
Number 5. – 1996
Everybody, you’re looking at one of the best years of all time as it was a year of groundbreaking success. Disney has never been so rich, it had some of the best Summer Olympics ever (Kurt Angle won a gold medal for amateur wrestling with a broken neck), Bill Clinton signs the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments, and the video game releases that forever changed the gaming industry. This was the year where the Sega Saturn released great titles, the 16-bit era was at its end (good bye Genesis and Super Nintendo), and the highly anticipated Nintendo 64 was finally released. Most importantly, 1996 was also the year that electronic music boomed into the mainstream. All of the sudden, artists like The Prodigy, Robert Miles, Underworld, Moby, The Chemical Brothers, and Aphex Twin became huge names in the electronic musical world that grew so much attention. Meanwhile, DJ Shadow innovated the very first fully DJ sampled album that revolutionized music forever. What’s surprising about 1996 is that Democratic incumbent Bill Clinton defeats Republican challenger Bob Dole to win his second term. This election had the lowest voter turnout since 1924. But what’s most important to me in 1996 was when the Attitude Era begun when Stone Cold Steve Austin made his first swear words on television at King of the Ring 1996, forever ending the New Generation Era. Yeah, there were plenty of dumb movies that came out in 1996 like Happy Gilmore, Independence Day, Scream, Romeo + Juliet, and From Dust to Dawn, but they were highly entertaining! There was so many things to look forward to in 1996 and it was a year of excitement.
Number 4. – 1999
We were all prepared to party in 1999 because Prince told us so in his song “1999” but also it was the last year before the 1990s ends and the 2000s begins. I remember a lot of people were ready to enter the 21st Century making their last days as great as it can be. But for others, they were paranoid about the Y2K problem that will hit when 2000 comes. Either way, everyday we made our days just in this year like it was our last. It was a great following year after the awesomeness of 1998 because of the many releases that got us excited. While many of us had to endure the awfulness of boy bands and Brittany Spear’s agonizing musical debut, there were a lot of heavy music rebelling against the stupidity that mainstream turned out to be and created an alternative for us real music fans. Things like Opeth’s Still Life, Rage Against the Machine’s last LP with Battle For Laos Angeles, and Eminem’s Slim Shady’s LP were some of the most aggressive and violent music ever recorded. At the same time we were given some of the most special musical experiences ever with Moby’s Play and The Flaming Lip’s Soften Bulletin that captures our hearts. Movies in 1999 revolutionized the way we make movies like Fight Club, American Beauty, Magnolia, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, and the ever so popular The Maxtix. This was also the year where North America finally got the Sega Dreamcast that had so much to offer that N64 and PS1 couldn’t; which is loved by many hardcore gamers as the best system ever. With all these things to talk about why is it not number 1? Well, I think it’s because we parted way too hard in 1999. There were also a lot of bad that came out in this year such as the worst Woodstock music festival that turned into a riot and Columbine Shooting that forever changed the way we think about gun control. See how conflicting it is to love something but also realize the bad?
Number 3. – 1991
Do you ever wonder how did the year 1990 felt like the 1980s, but somehow 1991 became what the 1990s is most known for? Let’s start with that killed the 1980s music shall we? How about when Nirvana released Smells Like Teen Spirit music video and started the whole grunge movement? Because the whole world was introduced to alternative music (with it’s moody and cathy swings) it somehow created a new stratosphere to the world. Grunge was a huge part of the 1990s because alternative music became the most down to Earth musical movement thanks to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains that forever change how we approach music. This where the 1990s started to grow from a seed and into a tree because everything that you remember about the 1980s is forever faded out of fashion and the new era just begun. This was an exciting, yet memorable year in music where the old takes its last breath and the new becomes a generation defining moment. We have the rise of grunge with three fantastic albums of this very movement, to brand new sound of dance music, and even innovative sounds of wave from shoegaze. How can nobody think that 1991 was at all a great year to remember? In fact, there are just so many things released in the 1991 that will forever put a special place in history and these are the albums that proves the greatness of this year. Releases like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Nirvana’s Nevermind, The Gulf War ends, debuts of Nickelodeon new original shows, launch of Comedy Channel (now known as Comedy Central), The Jerry Springer Show, Beauty and the Beast, Silence of the Lambs, and the Super Nintendo to start the 16-bit console war with Sega Genesis were all released in this very year. These are all the things that destroyed the 1980′s stereotype and popculture in the first world countries. No doubt that 1991 is remembered as one of the best years in ever!
Number 2. – 1994
If there was one year that truly defined what the 90s was all about, it has to be 1994! We’re talking about the suicide of Kurt Cobain, OJ Simpson chase, Jim Carrey made theatrical success, Disney released their biggest movie to date The Lion King, Nintendo saved the SNES with the release of Donkey Kong Country, Nathalie Portman made her debut with Leon: The Professional, Tom Hanks gave his best performance with Forrest Gump, Quentin Tarantino made his masterpiece with Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption was a sleeper hit that became loved by millions around the world, Weezer & Oasis made their best rock musical debut ever, Kevin Smith made the best independent film with Clerks, Nas’s Illmatic & Notorious BIG’s Ready to Die still remains the best hip-hop debut album ever, Beastie Boy’s Sabotage music video blew minds away, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam made their last big album hits before the grunge movement came lost popularity, Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn were released and remembered as the finest 32-bit systems, Prince Charles and Princess Diana separated, The Channel Tunnel finally opened, Wrestlemania X is the second best Wrestlemania of all time, U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin sign the Kremlin Accords, which stop the preprogrammed aiming of nuclear missiles toward each country’s targets, The New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup after 54 years, and so many more! If that doesn’t define 1994, I don’t know what will. After a horrible year in 1993, 1994 became another flip of the coin forever making the 1990s decade a memorable one!
Number 1. – 1998
I’m not going to act like nothing bad has ever happened in these 365 days, but this was the year were many of the releases in 1998 caused an everlasting impact. I’ve met a bunch of people that agrees with me that this was, one of if not, the best year ever. From television, movies, video games, (probably) comics, and music were at it’s best in this very year. And how euphoric, America was at the time. When grace was around us, and financial blessings, and an uncanny anointing, that dwelled in upon our land. Check the stats online. Some say 1998 was the best year ever, in everything! A link between economics, and the human psyche. It was the best of times. It was an age of prosperity, with six years in a row of fiscal improvement under the leadership of President Bill Clinton—including the first U.S. budget surplus in 30 years. Gas cost just $1.15 a gallon. It was an epoch of innovation, with the founding of Google, the rise of e-commerce, and the FDA’s approval of Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction.
Though we lost big stars like Kurt Cobain, 2Pac, and Notorious B.I.G., we had new rising stars coming out of this scene like Lauren Hill, Air’s Moon Safari, Queens of the Stone Age, Unkle, Brittany Spears, and the Neutral Milk Hotel making their debut albums that left us an ever lasting impression. At the same time, we’re also having old names that’s giving the same impression like Smashing Pumpkin’s “Adore,” Outkast’s “Aquemini,” Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine,” Korn’s “Follow the Leader,” and Hello Nasty” by the Beastie Boys. If that’s not good enough you can take a look at any music video released in 1998 and it will blow you away. That’s why watching music videos in 1998 in channels like Channel V or MTV to feel like an out of the body experience.
When we’re talking about movies, we’re seriously talking about some of the most groundbreaking filmmaking anyone can ask for. From the realistic depiction of war like Saving Private Ryan, the restoration of the Disney Renaissance with Mulan, innovative concepts like Truman Show and Dark City, the start of successful Marvel movies like Blade, revolutionary revolutionary animated features like A Bug’s Life, Antz, and Small Soldiers. But most importantly, the best movie that came out in 1998 had to be The Big Lebowski. It’s a comedy that was able to bring likeness to a multilayered movie and since then it has been the biggest cult following film of all time!
Even though That 1970’s Show started this year, the highlight of television in 1998 will always be the finale of Seinfeld and for a show about nothing left us a big impression towards the final season. It was the MASH of the 1990s and it was the highest rated programing of 1998. Though I wasn’t that much of a fan of the show, the one thing that kept me watching television was WWF Raw is War that happened to be on this list on Number 1 favorite thing that came out of the 1990s. We’re talking about wrestling greatest moments where Mankind was tossed off the cell, Stone Cold outsmarting Vince McMahon, Kane vs. Undertaker, D-Generation-X’s sex revolution, and so many more! This was the boom of the Attitude Era and it certainly was a great year for the WWF to compete the likes of WCW, even though they were still beating WWF in the ratings (Like Goldberg beating Hollywood Hogan). But what’s also important to me in television in 1998 was that this was the rise of anime’s popularity.
This was the time where the creative forces behind anime began pulling themselves away from the ultra violence that gave anime a bad reputation and began pushing themselves for great stories that has withstood the test of time. All of the sudden, shows like Dragon Ball Z and Pokemon started selling merchandise and we couldn’t get out of the door without even hearing of the franchise. It as well opened doors to anime that had much more mature content than your standard cartoon that we seen in Saturday Mornings children’s broadcasting and Adult Animation late at night. Also, I prefer this era of anime more so than modern anime because they had a sense of realism and humanity instead of being too shiny, sharp, and overboard with the design & storytelling that lost the appeal that I felt so many years ago. There are anime today that I enjoy, but somehow the anime that came out from this era has that everlasting appeal that even future generations of Otaku will appreciate and enjoy!
Video games has come a long way. The stuff that kids were playing on their consoles and computers decades ago, has gaming changed all that much? Of course they have, and they changed all the way back to 1998, the single greatest year in the entire history of gaming. Yes, 1998 really is the best year in gaming because many of the titles released in this very year turned video games into the pop culture phenomenon that it is today. 1998 was a well established year where popular games and genres were defined or redefined. These are instant classics proceeded to shape to define gaming forever after. This is personally my favorite year ever because this was around the time I entered the 3rd grade with a better elementary school teacher, we moved to a new two story villa, and this was the year that we got the Sony Playstation for the first time. So when it comes to making my Top 10 favorite games of this very year, it’s really hard for me to pick only ten that I still continue playing and still continue to hunt down. I love those 365 days so passionately that I would want the time machine to exist so I can just go back to those times when these games were new and people everywhere were obsessing over it. That’s part of the reason why we it’s a lot more fun to play these games when it was released in opposed to playing them now when everybody forgot about them. These are the times where I’m in a great mood to once again Gotta Catch ‘Em All, Travel Through the Land of the Dead, Obtaining the Tri Force in 3D, Having Psycho Mantis reading memory cards, escaping Black Mesa, torching Gnasty Gnorc, getting all Jiggies, collecting 25 crystals, destroy the zergs, this was all gaming in year 1998!
Can you see why 1998 does just the best of almost everything? I can’t imagine a better year than 1998. Sure there are years that almost did outdo 1998 in terms of wonderful releases like 2000, 1999, 1997, 1991, 2002, and 2007, but not as memorable or as impacting. It goes down as one of the best years of all time and what truly makes the 1990s a so beloved decade to remember many years to come.