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“What really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter.”
— High Fidelity

Etcetera

Best Songs of 1989

Just like I created 100-song Best of Lists representing 30, 20, and 10 years ago, I have spent the past year creating lists for every other year I've been alive. So rather than wait ten years to publish them all, I'm also going to share lists from 5, 15 and 25 years ago. I'd do 35, too, but that pesky Best of 1979 isn't quite finished yet.

In the past two years since I started this process of culling tracks from every year of my existence, I have come across a slew of great albums and artists that I had only heard of (but not heard), or, in a few cases, had never known about at all. It's been a wonderful experience, yet again, to piece together this list.

As before, this list is an honest attempt to assess a year in music, merging the reality of a list made 25 years later with the idea that, had I been able to conceive of such a list at the time (as an adult, not as the ten-year-old I was), I would have included pop hits, obscure tunes, aging favorites and new artists alike.

For these year-end lists, I like to undertake the seemingly impossibly task of creating an hours-long mix. The order you see below represents that effort, which you can listen to via Spotify or my preferred streaming service, Rdio. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available in either case, but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or—particularly if last year's un-annotated lists are a sign of future action—maybe never.

  1. The Biz Never Sleeps

    Just a Friend

    Biz Markie

    The Biz Never Sleeps

    Cold Chillin’

    Notes

  2. Stone Cold Rhymin

    Bust a Move

    Young MC

    Stone Cold Rhymin’

    Notes

  3. Loc-ed After Dark

    Wild Thing

    Tone Loc

    Loc-ed After Dark

    Delicious Vinyl

    Notes

  4. Batman

    Batdance

    Prince

    Batman

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  5. Pretty Hate Machine

    Down In It

    Nine Inch Nails

    Pretty Hate Machine

    TVT

    Notes

  6. Fear of a Black Planet

    Fight the Power

    Public Enemy

    Fear of a Black Planet

    Def Jam

    Notes

  7. As Nasty As They Wanna Be

    Me So Horny

    2 Live Crew

    As Nasty As They Wanna Be

    Lil Joe

    Notes

  8. Pump Up the Jam: The Album

    Pump Up the Jam

    Technotronic

    Pump Up the Jam: The Album

    EMI

    Notes

  9. Raw Like Sushi

    Buffalo Stance

    Neneh Cherry

    Raw Like Sushi

    Virgin

    Notes

  10. Girl You Know It's True

    Blame It on the Rain

    Milli Vanilli

    Girl You Know It’s True

    Arista

    Notes

  11. Ghostbusters II

    On Our Own

    Bobby Brown

    Ghostbusters II

    MCA

    Notes

  12. After 7

    Can’t Stop

    After 7

    After 7

    Virgin

    Notes

  13. Like a Prayer

    Cherish

    Madonna

    Like a Prayer

    Sire

    Notes

  14. Blind Man's Zoo

    Trouble Me

    10,000 Maniacs

    Blind Man’s Zoo

    Elektra

    Notes

  15. Bread and Circus

    Covered in Roses

    Toad the Wet Sprocket

    Bread and Circus

    Columbia

    Notes

  16. March

    No Myth

    Michael Penn

    March

    RCA

    Notes

  17. Tantilla

    When the Hammer Came Down

    House of Freaks

    Tantilla

    Rhino

    Notes

  18. Good Evening

    Let Her Dance

    Marshall Crenshaw

    Good Evening

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  19. Spike

    Veronica

    Elvis Costello

    Spike

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  20. Deep

    Cuts You Up

    Peter Murphy

    Deep

    Beggars Banquet

    Notes

  21. Let the Day Begin

    Let the Day Begin

    The Call

    Let the Day Begin

    MCA

    Notes

  22. Louder Than Love

    Hands All Over

    Soundgarden

    Louder Than Love

    A&M

    Notes

  23. The Real Thing

    Epic

    Faith No More

    The Real Thing

    Slash

    Notes

  24. Mother's Milk

    Knock Me Down

    Red Hot Chili Peppers

    Mother’s Milk

    EMI

    Notes

  25. Superchunk

    Slack Motherfucker

    Superchunk

    Superchunk

    Merge

    Notes

  26. Mudhoney

    This Gift

    Mudhoney

    Mudhoney

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  27. Bizarro

    Kennedy

    The Wedding Present

    Bizarro

    RCA

    Notes

  28. Black Candy

    Cast a Shadow

    Beat Happening

    Black Candy

    K

    Notes

  29. 3

    Nightmares

    Violent Femmes

    3

    London

    Notes

  30. Headache Rhetoric

    My Days Are Numbered

    Close Lobsters

    Headache Rhetoric

    Fire

    Notes

  31. Automatic

    Head On

    The Jesus and Mary Chain

    Automatic

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  32. A Dead Horse

    Darklands

    The Golden Palominos

    A Dead Horse

    Celluloid

    Notes

  33. Earwig

    You Don’t Give Up

    The Blake Babies

    Earwig

    Mammoth

    Notes

  34. Bleach

    About a Girl

    Nirvana

    Bleach

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  35. Buzz Factory

    Where the Twain Shall Meet

    Screaming Trees

    Buzz Factory

    SST

    Notes

  36. Buffalo Tom

    The Bus

    Buffalo Tom

    Buffalo Tom

    SST

    Notes

  37. Don't Tell a Soul

    Talent Show

    The Replacements

    Don’t Tell a Soul

    Reprise

    Notes

  38. Key Lime Pie

    All Her Favorite Fruit

    Camper Van Beethoven

    Key Lime Pie

    Virgin

    Notes

  39. On Fire

    Strange

    Galaxie 500

    On Fire

    Rough Trade

    Notes

  40. Me and a Monkey on the Moon

    Never Let You Go

    Felt

    Me and a Monkey on the Moon

    Cherry Red

    Notes

  41. Me and Mr. Ray

    You’re the One Lee

    Miracle Legion

    Me and Mr. Ray

    Rough Trade

    Notes

  42. At Home With Bobby and Tim

    On the Wire

    the Windbreakers

    At Home With Bobby and Tim

    dB recs

    Notes

  43. Change

    Change II

    The Alarm

    Change

    I.R.S.

    Notes

  44. 11

    A Girl Like You

    The Smithereens

    11

    Capitol

    Notes

  45. Now and Again

    Stay

    The Grapes of Wrath

    Now and Again

    Capitol

    Notes

  46. The Good Life

    She Reminds Me of You

    Fire Town

    The Good Life

    Atlantic

    Notes

  47. This Time Around

    We’re All Waiting

    Green on Red

    This Time Around

    Polydor

    Notes

  48. Blue Earth

    Two Angels

    The Jayhawks

    Blue Earth

    Twin/Tone

    Notes

  49. Indigo Girls

    Closer to Fine

    Indigo Girls

    Indigo Girls

    Epic

    Notes

  50. Snowball

    Couldn’t Feel Safer

    The Field Mice

    Snowball

    Sarah

    Notes

  51. The Ocean Blue

    Just Let Me Know

    The Ocean Blue

    The Ocean Blue

    Sire

    Notes

  52. Acadie

    The Maker

    Daniel Lanois

    Acadie

    Opal

    Notes

  53. Nick of Time

    Nick of Time

    Bonnie Raitt

    Nick of Time

    Capitol

    Notes

  54. Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

    Nobody Knows Me

    Lyle Lovett

    Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

    Curb

    Notes

  55. Journeyman

    Running on Faith

    Eric Clapton

    Journeyman

    Reprise

    Notes

  56. In Step

    Tightrope

    Stevie Ray Vaughan

    In Step

    Epic

    Notes

  57. Tied to the Tracks

    Hank

    Treat Her Right

    Tied to the Tracks

    RCA

    Notes

  58. Alannah Myles

    Black Velvet

    Alannah Myles

    Alannah Myles

    Atlantic

    Notes

  59. Heart Shaped World

    Wicked Game

    Chris Isaak

    Heart Shaped World

    Reprise

    Notes

  60. The Sensual World

    This Woman’s Work

    Kate Bush

    The Sensual World

    Columbia

    Notes

  61. But Seriously

    Another Day in Paradise

    Phil Collins

    …But Seriously

    Atlantic

    Notes

  62. Cross That Line

    Everlasting Love

    Howard Jones

    Cross That Line

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  63. The Seeds of Love

    Woman in Chains

    Tears for Fears

    The Seeds of Love

    Fontana

    Notes

  64. Disintegration

    Lovesong

    The Cure

    Disintegration

    Elektra

    Notes

  65. When Love Comes to Town

    Dancing Barefoot

    U2

    When Love Comes to Town 7"

    Island

    Notes

  66. The Stone Roses

    I Wanna Be Adored

    The Stone Roses

    The Stone Roses

    Sony

    Notes

  67. Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week

    Planet

    The Sugarcubes

    Here Today, Tomorrow, Next Week

    Elektra

    Notes

  68. Fun & Games

    Fun & Games

    The Connells

    Fun & Games

    TVT

    Notes

  69. Sonic Temple

    Fire Woman

    The Cult

    Sonic Temple

    Beggars Banquet

    Notes

  70. The Different Story

    Major Tom (Coming Home)

    Peter Schilling

    The Different Story

    Elektra

    Notes

  71. Cosmic Thing

    Roam

    The B-52’s

    Cosmic Thing

    Reprise

    Notes

  72. The Raw & The Cooked

    She Drives Me Crazy

    Fine Young Cannibals

    The Raw & The Cooked

    I.R.S.

    Notes

  73. Rhythm Nation 1814

    Love Will Never Do (Without You)

    Janet Jackson

    Rhythm Nation 1814

    A&M

    Notes

  74. Club Classics Vol. One

    Back to Life

    Soul II Soul

    Club Classics Vol. One

    Virgin

    Notes

  75. Done by the Forces of Nature

    Tribe Vibes

    Jungle Brothers

    Done by the Forces of Nature

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  76. Paul's Boutique

    Shake Your Rump

    Beastie Boys

    Paul’s Boutique

    Capitol

    Notes

  77. 3 Feet High and Rising

    Me Myself and I

    De La Soul

    3 Feet High and Rising

    Tommy Boy

    Notes

  78. And in This Corner

    I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson

    DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

    And in This Corner…

    Jive

    Notes

  79. The Cactus Album

    The Gas Face

    Third Bass

    The Cactus Album

    Def Jam

    Notes

  80. Walking With a Panther

    Going Back to Cali

    LL Cool J

    Walking With a Panther

    Def Jam

    Notes

  81. Identified

    Bad Boys

    Inner Circle

    Identified

    Vision

    Notes

  82. Labour of Love II

    Here I Am/Small Axe (Come and Take Me)

    UB40

    Labour of Love II

    Virgin

    Notes

  83. Earthquake Weather

    Island Hopping

    Joe Strummer

    Earthquake Weather

    Epic

    Notes

  84. Home

    When the Love Is Good

    BoDeans

    Home

    Slash

    Notes

  85. Big Circumstance

    If a Tree Falls

    Bruce Cockburn

    Big Circumstance

    True North

    Notes

  86. New York

    Dirty Blvd.

    Lou Reed

    New York

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  87. Steel Wheels

    Mixed Emotions

    The Rolling Stones

    Steel Wheels

    Universal

    Notes

  88. Storm Front

    I Go to Extremes

    Billy Joel

    Storm Front

    Columbia

    Notes

  89. Technique

    Run

    New Order

    Technique

    Factory

    Notes

  90. Love and Rockets

    So Alive

    Love and Rockets

    Love and Rockets

    Beggars Banquet

    Notes

  91. Doolittle

    Here Comes Your Man

    Pixies

    Doolittle

    4AD

    Notes

  92. The Mekons Rock n Roll

    Blow Your Tuneless Trumpet

    Mekons

    The Mekons Rock ’n’ Roll

    Twin/Tone

    Notes

  93. Laughter

    Into the Heart of Love

    The Mighty Lemon Drops

    Laughter

    Sire

    Notes

  94. Get Up

    Funtime

    R.E.M.

    Get Up 7"

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  95. Freedom

    Rockin’ in the Free World

    Neil Young

    Freedom

    Reprise

    Notes

  96. Full Moon Fever

    I Won’t Back Down

    Tom Petty

    Full Moon Fever

    MCA

    Notes

  97. The Best of Rod Stewart

    Downtown Train

    Rod Stewart

    The Best of Rod Stewart

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  98. Shine

    Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns

    Mother Love Bone

    Shine

    Stardog

    Notes

  99. Pump

    Janie’s Got a Gun

    Aerosmith

    Pump

    Geffen

    Notes

  100. Let Love Rule

    Let Love Rule

    Lenny Kravitz

    Let Love Rule

    Virgin

    Notes