1989 was a significant year for music, with many iconic artists releasing some of their most memorable songs. From pop to rock and everything in between, the music of 1989 left a lasting impression on fans worldwide. The music of 1989 was diverse and groundbreaking, with many artists pushing the boundaries of their respective genres. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best songs from 1989 that have stood the test of time and continue to be beloved by music fans today. So, whether you were around to experience the music of 1989 firsthand or are discovering it for the first time, these songs are sure to transport you back to a time when music was at its most vibrant and exciting.
The Significance of Good Music From 1989
The year 1989 was a pivotal moment in music history. It marked the end of the 80s, a decade defined by its excesses and flamboyance, and the beginning of a new era with a more introspective and alternative sound. It was a year that saw the emergence of grunge and alternative rock, along with the continued dominance of pop and hip-hop. Furthermore, 1989 also witnessed the release of groundbreaking albums that would go on to define the sound of the 90s.
One of the most iconic albums of the year was Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, showcasing the singer’s versatility and cementing her status as a pop culture icon. Meanwhile, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation 1814” tackled social and political issues through its infectious dance beats. The year also saw the emergence of new artists who would go on to become household names, such as Nirvana with their debut album “Bleach” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers with “Mother’s Milk.”
But 1989 wasn’t all about the mainstream. The underground scene was thriving, with bands like Sonic Youth, Pixies, and Fugazi pushing the boundaries of rock music and laying the groundwork for the alternative movement that would dominate the 90s. Overall, 1989 was a year of great change and innovation in music, and its influence can still be felt today.
Good Music From 1989
1989 was a stellar year for music, with numerous standout tracks becoming timeless classics that we still love today. Each of the below songs showcases the unique sound and style of the artists who created them. Together, they represent the diverse musical landscape of the late 80s. Whether you’re a fan of classic rock or 90s hip-hop, there’s something on this list for everyone:
Good Music From 1989 – Hip-Hop: Public Enemy – Fight The Power
“Fight the Power” is a politically charged hip-hop anthem by the American rap group Public Enemy. The song was written for Spike Lee’s film “Do the Right Thing”, quickly becoming an anthem for the black community. With its powerful lyrics and hard-hitting beats, “Fight the Power” spoke to the frustration and anger felt by many people of colour in America who were tired of being marginalized and oppressed.
The song’s message of resistance and empowerment continues to resonate today, making it a timeless classic in the world of hip-hop and beyond.”
Good Music From 1989 – Pop: Madonna – Like a Prayer
Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” describes a passionate and intense relationship with religious undertones. The track combines elements of gospel and pop music with a catchy chorus and powerful vocals from Madonna. The song’s music video, directed by Mary Lambert, was controversial for its use of religious imagery and themes of racism and violence.
Despite the controversy, “Like a Prayer” was a commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in several countries and earning critical acclaim for its boldness and creativity. The song has since become one of Madonna’s most iconic and memorable hits.
Tom Petty – Free Fallin’
Tom Petty’s classic rock song features a simple but memorable melody driven by an acoustic guitar riff and a steady drumbeat. Petty’s song lyrics paint a picture of a carefree, laid-back lifestyle in Los Angeles, with references to iconic landmarks like Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive. The chorus, with its soaring harmonies and catchy hook, has become an anthem for generations of fans.
“Free Fallin'” is widely regarded as one of Petty’s greatest hits and a timeless classic of the rock genre.
Technotronic feat. Felly – Pump Up The Jam
“Pump Up The Jam” is a dance and house music track by Belgian group Technotronic featuring American rapper Felly. The song, featuring a catchy and repetitive melody, a strong bassline, and Felly’s rap verses, became a massive hit worldwide and a classic of the genre.
The song’s lyrics encourage listeners to dance and let loose, making it a staple at parties and clubs. “Pump Up The Jam” has been remixed and covered numerous times. Furthermore, its influence still resonates in contemporary dance music.
Lisa Stansfield – All Around The World
“All Around The World” is a classic dance-pop number by British singer Lisa Stansfield. The song’s upbeat tempo, catchy chorus, and Stansfield’s soulful vocals made it an instant hit. The song’s lyrics are about Stansfield’s search for true love and the willingness to travel anywhere to find it. The music video, which features Stansfield in various locations around the world, further emphasises the song’s theme.
“All Around The World” was a commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in several countries and earning Stansfield multiple award nominations. It remains a beloved classic to this day.
B-52’s – Love Shack
“Love Shack” is a classic party anthem by the American rock band B-52’s. The song’s upbeat tempo, catchy chorus, and playful lyrics have made it a beloved favourite among fans of all ages. The band’s signature sound, which blends rock, pop, and new wave elements, is on full display in this track, with its use of horns, percussion, and call-and-response vocals. The lyrics describe a wild and free-spirited party at a remote cabin. Furthermore, they offer a number of humorous, quirky, and highly quotable references.
“Love Shack” remains a staple of pop culture and a timeless example of the B-52’s unique style.
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
“Wicked Game” is a hauntingly beautiful love song by Chris Isaak that has captured listeners’ hearts since its release. The song’s melancholic melody and Isaak’s soulful vocals perfectly capture the bittersweet feeling of longing and desire. The lyrics describe the intense emotions of a passionate but complicated relationship, with lines like “What a wicked game you play to make me feel this way” conveying the pain and confusion that can come with love.
The song’s music video, which features Isaak and supermodel Helena Christensen in a sensual beach setting, has also become iconic, cementing “Wicked Game” as a timeless classic.
Madonna – Express Yourself
“Express Yourself” is a song by American singer Madonna, released as the second single from her fourth studio album, “Like a Prayer”, in 1989. The song is an empowering anthem that encourages listeners to be themselves and not settle for less in their relationships. It features a catchy pop melody with a strong bassline and horn section, along with Madonna’s signature vocals. The music video, directed by David Fincher, features Madonna in various costumes and settings, including a workplace and a masquerade ball.
“Express Yourself” became a commercial success, reaching the top five in several countries and earning critical acclaim for its feminist message and catchy production.
Faith No More – Epic
“Epic”, Faith No More’s 1989 classic, is famous for its eclectic mix of genres, including funk, metal, and rap, and its memorable opening bassline. The song’s lyrics touch on themes of individuality and non-conformity, with lead singer Mike Patton urging listeners to “say what you will, do what you feel, you’ll be forgiven if you’re not what they want you to be”.
“Epic” was a commercial success, reaching the top 10 in several countries, and remains a staple of 90s rock radio to this day.
Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus
“Personal Jesus” is a song by English electronic band Depeche Mode. The song’s lyrics revolve around the idea of a “personal Jesus”, offering guidance and support to individuals in their times of need. The track features a distinctive guitar riff and a driving beat, combined with lead singer Dave Gahan’s powerful vocals.
“Personal Jesus” became one of Depeche Mode’s most successful singles, reaching the top 20 in multiple countries and earning critical acclaim for its innovative sound and thought-provoking lyrics. The song has since become a staple of the band’s live shows and remains an electro classic.
Good Music From 1989 – Industrial: Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole
“Head Like a Hole” was the debut single from the American industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. The song features aggressive guitar riffs, pounding drums, and Trent Reznor’s intense vocals, delivering lyrics that criticise greed and materialism. The song’s catchy chorus and memorable hooks helped it become a fan favourite and a staple of Nine Inch Nails’ live shows.
“Head Like a Hole” was also a commercial success. It reached the top 30 on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, establishing Nine Inch Nails as one of industrial rock’s leading acts.
Phil Collins – Another Day in Paradise
“Another Day in Paradise” is a song by English musician Phil Collins, released in 1989 as the lead single from his fourth studio album, “But Seriously”. The song addresses the issue of homelessness and poverty, with Collins using his platform to raise awareness and encourage action. Its lyrics describe a wealthy man’s encounter with a homeless woman, highlighting the stark contrast between their lives and the harsh reality of those living on the streets.
The song’s haunting melody and poignant message have made it a timeless classic. Furthermore, It remains one of Collins’ most popular and impactful songs.
Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven
Pixies first released “Monkey Gone to Heaven” as a single in 1989 before later including it on their album “Doolittle”. The song features a unique blend of surrealistic lyrics and catchy guitar riffs. The lyrics touch upon themes of environmentalism, religion, and mortality, with the chorus repeatedly asking, “Is there a heaven? Is there a hell?”
The song’s popularity helped cement the Pixies’ status as one of the most influential bands of the era’s alternative rock scene. Its legacy continues to inspire and influence musicians to this day.
Good Music From 1989 – Metal: Mötley Crüe – Dr. Feelgood
“Dr. Feelgood” is a hard rock anthem by the American band Mötley Crüe, released in 1989 as the title track of their fifth studio album. The song features a catchy guitar riff and powerful vocals from lead singer Vince Neil. Neil’s lyrics tell the story of a drug dealer who provides his customers with a sense of euphoria.
The song became one of Mötley Crüe’s biggest hits, reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and earning the band their first Grammy nomination. Its success helped solidify Mötley Crüe’s place as one of the biggest bands of the 1980s and a major influence on the glam metal genre.
Skid Row – Youth Gone Wild
“Youth Gone Wild” is a classic hard rock anthem by the American band Skid Row. Following its release in 1989, the song became an instant hit, remaining a staple of rock radio to this day. The lyrics speak to the rebellious spirit of youth and the desire to break free from societal constraints.
The powerful vocals of lead singer Sebastian Bach and the driving guitar riffs of Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill combine to create a high-energy, head-banging masterpiece. “Youth Gone Wild” has become a classic rock anthem and a symbol of rock and roll rebellion.
Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time
“If I Could Turn Back Time” is a power ballad by American singer and actress Cher. The song was the lead single from her nineteenth studio album “Heart of Stone”. The lyrics are about a woman who regrets the mistakes she made in her past relationship and wishes she could turn back time to fix them.
The song’s catchy chorus and strong vocal performance helped it become one of her biggest hits, reaching the top 10 in several countries. The music video, featuring Cher performing on a battleship wearing a revealing outfit, was both iconic and controversial upon release.
Nirvana – About a Girl
“About a Girl” is a song by the American rock band Nirvana, released in 1989 on their debut album “Bleach”. The song was written by lead vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain and features a catchy melody and acoustic guitar riff. The lyrics describe Cobain’s complicated relationship with his girlfriend at the time, Tracy Marander.
The song’s simple yet effective structure and Cobain’s raw and emotional delivery helped establish Nirvana’s unique sound, setting them apart from their contemporaries in the early 1990s. “About a Girl” remains one of Nirvana’s most popular and enduring songs.
Cure – Lullaby
“Lullaby” is a haunting and eerie song by the British rock band The Cure, released in 1989 as a single from their album “Disintegration.” Robert Smith’s lyrics describe a nightmare in which a giant spider visits the narrator and sings him a lullaby. The song’s instrumentation is sparse and atmospheric, with a prominent bassline and haunting synth effects. The overall effect is unsettling and dreamlike, perfectly capturing the mood of the song’s lyrics.
“Lullaby” remains one of The Cure’s most beloved and iconic songs. Significantly, the track is a testament to their ability to create deeply affecting and memorable music.
They Might Be Giants – Birdhouse In Your Soul
“Birdhouse in Your Soul” is a quirky and upbeat song by the American alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. The song’s lyrics are whimsical and imaginative. They tell the story of a blue canary night light from the point of view of the night light. The catchy melody and playful instrumentation, including the use of an accordion and a drum machine, make the song a fan favourite.
“Birdhouse in Your Soul” was released in 1989 as the lead single from the band’s album “Flood”. Since its release, it has since become one of They Might Be Giants’ most popular and beloved songs.
Good Music From 1989 – Rock: Aerosmith – Love in an Elevator
“Love in an Elevator” is a classic rock song by American band Aerosmith. It was released in 1989 as the lead single from their album “Pump”. The song features an upbeat tempo, catchy guitar riffs, and powerful vocals from lead singer Steven Tyler. The lyrics tell the story of a man who meets a woman in an elevator and proceeds to engage in sexual activity with her.
Despite the controversial subject matter, the song became a commercial success, reaching number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Love in an Elevator” remains a fan favourite and a staple of Aerosmith’s live performances.
Alice Cooper – Poison
“Poison” is a power ballad by American rock singer Alice Cooper. The song was released in 1989 as the lead single from his eighteenth studio album, “Trash”. It features a catchy guitar riff and a memorable chorus, with Cooper’s signature raspy vocals delivering lyrics about the dangers of love and desire.
The song was a commercial success, reaching number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming one of Cooper’s most recognisable hits. “Poison” remains a staple of classic rock radio and is considered a classic of the glam metal genre.
The Impact of Good Music From 1989
1989 was a truly groundbreaking year for music. Numerous artists pushed the boundaries of their genres, creating timeless classics that we continue to celebrate today. From the emergence of hip-hop and rap to the rise of pop icons, the year saw music evolve and grow in exciting new ways.
1989 also marked the beginning of new trends. Notable evolutions include the incorporation of electronic dance music into mainstream pop and the fusion of rock and heavy metal. The year’s music not only reflected the cultural and political climate of the time but also paved the way for the music of the 1990s and beyond.
Decades later, the songs from 1989 continue to resonate with audiences, proving that great music is timeless. Whether it was pop hits, rock anthems, or empowering hip-hop tracks, 1989 had something for everyone. As we look back on this iconic year in music, we can appreciate the impact it had on the industry. Furthermore, we can continue to enjoy 1989’s lasting legacy that still resonates in today’s music.