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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 1992

It’s quite possible that, by the middle of the decade, I’d settled on the songs that would eventually make this list once I finalized it here in 2017. Obviously I was not thinking about 100-song Spotify playlists in my teenage years, but by 1996 or ’97 I am fairly certain I had absorbed nearly every last one of these songs, either directly or indirectly, into my musical life.

If true, then this would be the first year of my lifetime in which I could safely make that declaration, and the reason is as much technological as it is biographical. While my sources were still limited largely to radio, MTV and the influence of my slightly older sister, the diversity of sounds presented in just those three arenas was enough to broaden my horizons beyond my KUBE-heavy days just a year or two earlier.

In that sense, 1992 is a transitional year, beginning a slow shedding of the pop, hip-hop and R&B sounds of my tween years and moving toward rock, country and whatever you want to call the alternative-indie-college rock scene of this era.

The end result is a list which begins to set me on my musical path toward a boundless desire for discovery—new artists, new sounds, new genres—that here in 2017 has settled into an inevitably more balanced approach, featuring longtime favorites punctuated by the occasional comet of novelty which reminds me of these younger days, maybe not so much in sound, but in spirit.

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. Sadly all 100 tracks aren't available—just 4 shy of complete!—but you get the general idea. Track notes to come eventually or maybe never.

  1. On the TLC Tip

    Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg

    TLC

    Ooooooohh… On the TLC Tip

    LaFace

    Notes

  2. The Love Symbol Album

    7

    Prince

    The Love Symbol Album

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  3. Close to You

    Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

    Father MC & Jodeci

    Close to You

    Uptown

    Notes

  4. Born Into the 90s

    Hey Love

    R. Kelly & Public Announcement

    Born Into the 90s

    Jive

    Notes

  5. Lose Control

    Freak Me

    Silk

    Lose Control

    Elektra

    Notes

  6. It's About Time

    Weak

    SWV

    It’s About Time

    RCA

    Notes

  7. The Bodyguard

    I’m Every Woman

    Whitney Houston

    The Bodyguard

    Arista

    Notes

  8. The Madman's Return

    Rhythm Is a Dancer

    Snap!

    The Madman’s Return

    Arista

    Notes

  9. Diva

    Walking on Broken Glass

    Annie Lennox

    Diva

    Arista

    Notes

  10. Ingenue

    Constant Craving

    k.d. lang

    Ingenue

    Sire

    Notes

  11. Black Eyed Man

    Black Eyed Man

    Cowboy Junkies

    Black Eyed Man

    RCA

    Notes

  12. Harvest Moon

    Harvest Moon

    Neil Young

    Harvest Moon

    Reprise

    Notes

  13. March 16-20, 1992

    Sandusky

    Uncle Tupelo

    March 16–20, 1992

    Rockville

    Notes

  14. Fathers and Sons soundtrack

    Blue Sky Blues

    Chris Whitley

    Fathers and Sons

    Sony

    Notes

  15. UFO Tofu

    Sex in a Pan

    Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

    UFO Tofu

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  16. Good

    You Look Like Rain

    Morphine

    Good

    Rykodisc

    Notes

  17. Don't Sweat the Technique

    Don’t Sweat the Technique

    Eric B. & Rakim

    Don’t Sweat the Technique

    MCA

    Notes

  18. Mecca and the Soul Brother

    They Reminisce Over You

    Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth

    Mecca and the Soul Brother

    Elektra

    Notes

  19. Daily Operation

    Ex Girl to the Next Girl

    Gang Starr

    Daily Operation

    Virgin

    Notes

  20. Whut? Thee Album

    Tonight’s Da Night

    Redman

    Whut? Thee Album

    Def Jam

    Notes

  21. Kizz My Black Azz

    Final Frontier

    MC Ren

    Kizz My Black Azz

    Priority

    Notes

  22. The Chronic

    Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang

    Dr. Dre

    The Chronic

    Interscope

    Notes

  23. The Predator

    It Was a Good Day

    Ice Cube

    The Predator

    Priority

    Notes

  24. Ditty

    Ditty

    Paperboy

    Ditty

    Next Plateau

    Notes

  25. Uncut Dope

    Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta

    Geto Boys

    Uncut Dope

    Rap-A-Lot

    Notes

  26. Dead Serious

    They Want EFX

    Das EFX

    Dead Serious

    East West

    Notes

  27. Hard or Smooth

    Rump Shaker

    Wreckx-N-Effect

    Hard or Smooth

    MCA

    Notes

  28. Stick Around for Joy

    Hit

    The Sugarcubes

    Stick Around for Joy

    Elektra

    Notes

  29. Puzzle

    Dizz Knee Land

    Dada

    Puzzle

    I.R.S.

    Notes

  30. Lunapark

    Smile

    Luna

    Lunapark

    Elektra

    Notes

  31. Peng!

    Peng! 33

    Stereolab

    Peng!

    Too Pure

    Notes

  32. You Turn Me On

    Bury the Hammer

    Beat Happening

    You Turn Me On

    K Records

    Notes

  33. Head

    She Is Weird City

    Lotion

    Head

    Kokopop

    Notes

  34. Drenched

    With a Wish

    Miracle Legion

    Drenched

    Morgan Creek

    Notes

  35. Hey Babe

    Everybody Loves Me But You

    Juliana Hatfield

    Hey Babe

    Mammoth

    Notes

  36. Slanted & Enchanted

    Summer Babe (Winter Version)

    Pavement

    Slanted & Enchanted

    Matador

    Notes

  37. Dry

    Sheela-Na-Gig

    PJ Harvey

    Dry

    Island

    Notes

  38. Safari

    Safari

    The Breeders

    Safari

    4AD

    Notes

  39. Bricks Are Heavy

    Pretend We’re Dead

    L7

    Bricks Are Heavy

    Slash

    Notes

  40. Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

    Bad Luck

    Social Distortion

    Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

    Epic

    Notes

  41. Kerplunk

    2000 Light Years Away

    Green Day

    Kerplunk

    Lookout!

    1991 vinyl release

  42. Grave Dancers Union

    Somebody to Shove

    Soul Asylum

    Grave Dancers Union

    Columbia

    Notes

  43. Cracker

    Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)

    Cracker

    Cracker

    Virgin

    Notes

  44. Sweet Oblivion

    No One Knows

    Screaming Trees

    Sweet Oblivion

    Epic

    Notes

  45. Singles

    Breath

    Pearl Jam

    Singles

    Epic

    Notes

  46. Ferment

    Black Metallic

    Catherine Wheel

    Ferment

    Fontana

    Notes

  47. Blind

    Wild Horses

    The Sundays

    Blind

    DGC

    Notes

  48. Human Touch

    Human Touch

    Bruce Springsteen

    Human Touch

    Columbia

    Notes

  49. Welcome to Wherever You Are

    Not Enough Time

    INXS

    Welcome to Wherever You Are

    Atlantic

    Notes

  50. The Freddy Jones Band

    This Time Around

    The Freddy Jones Band

    The Freddy Jones Band

    Capricorn

    Notes

  51. Better Days

    This Time - Last Time

    Shawn Mullins

    Better Days

    SMG

    Notes

  52. Rites of Passage

    Galileo

    Indigo Girls

    Rites of Passage

    Epic

    Notes

  53. Kiko

    Dream in Blue

    Los Lobos

    Kiko

    Slash / Warner Bros.

    Notes

  54. Can You Fly

    In the New Sunshine

    Freedy Johnston

    Can You Fly

    Bar/None

    Notes

  55. Hollywood Town Hall

    Waiting for the Sun

    The Jayhawks

    Hollywood Town Hall

    Def American

    Notes

  56. Singles

    Waiting for Somebody

    Paul Westerberg

    Singles

    Epic

    Notes

  57. Sap

    Got Me Wrong

    Alice in Chains

    Sap

    Sony

    Notes

  58. Core

    Plush

    Stone Temple Pilots

    Core

    Atlantic

    Notes

  59. Rage Against the Machine

    Freedom

    Rage Against the Machine

    Rage Against the Machine

    Epic

    Notes

  60. Incesticide

    Aneurysm

    Nirvana

    Incesticide

    DGC

    Notes

  61. Dirty

    Chapel Hill

    Sonic Youth

    Dirty

    Geffen

    Notes

  62. Singles

    Drown

    Smashing Pumpkins

    Singles

    Epic

    Notes

  63. Us

    Secret World

    Peter Gabriel

    Us

    Real World

    Notes

  64. Walk on the Ocean

    All in All

    Toad the Wet Sprocket

    Walk on the Ocean

    Columbia

    Notes

  65. New Miserable Experience

    Found Out About You

    Gin Blossoms

    New Miserable Experience

    A&M

    Notes

  66. It's a Shame About Ray

    It’s a Shame About Ray

    The Lemonheads

    It’s a Shame About Ray

    Atlantic

    Notes

  67. Tongues and Tails

    Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover

    Sophie B. Hawkins

    Tongues and Tails

    Columbia

    Notes

  68. Erotica

    Rain

    Madonna

    Erotica

    Maverick

    Notes

  69. Keep it Goin' On

    She’s Playing Hard to Get

    Hi-Five

    Keep It Goin’ On

    Jive

    Notes

  70. Funky Divas

    My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)

    En Vogue

    Funky Divas

    East West

    Notes

  71. What's the 411?

    Real Love

    Mary J. Blige

    What’s the 411?

    Uptown

    Notes

  72. People Everyday

    People Everyday (Metamorphosis Mix)

    Arrested Development

    People Everyday

    Chrysalis

    Notes

  73. Business Never Personal

    Crossover

    EPMD

    Business Never Personal

    Def Jam

    Notes

  74. Scenario

    Scenario (Remix)

    A Tribe Called Quest

    Scenario

    Jive

    Notes

  75. Bacdafucup

    Slam

    Onyx

    Bacdafucup

    Def Jam

    Notes

  76. House of Pain

    Jump Around

    House of Pain

    House of Pain

    Tommy Boy

    Notes

  77. Totally Krossed Out

    Jump

    Kris Kross

    Totally Krossed Out

    Ruffhouse

    Notes

  78. Mack Daddy

    Baby Got Back

    Sir Mix-A-Lot

    Mack Daddy

    Def American

    Notes

  79. The Power of Rhyme

    The Way I Swing

    Kid Sensation & Ken Griffey Jr.

    The Power of Rhyme

    Nastymix

    Notes

  80. Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

    Passing Me By

    The Pharcyde

    Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde

    Delicious Vinyl

    Notes

  81. Check Your Head

    So What’cha Want

    Beastie Boys

    Check Your Head

    Grand Royal

    Notes

  82. In Search of Manny

    Satellite

    Luscious Jackson

    In Search of Manny

    Grand Royal

    Notes

  83. No Doubt

    Trapped in a Box

    No Doubt

    No Doubt

    Interscope

    Notes

  84. Nonsuch

    The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead

    XTC

    Nonsuch

    Virgin

    Notes

  85. Apollo 18

    I Palindrome I

    They Might Be Giants

    Apollo 18

    Elektra

    Notes

  86. A Picture of Nectar

    The Mango Song

    Phish

    A Picture of Nectar

    Elektra

    Notes

  87. No Room

    Did You Ever Look So Nice

    The Samples

    No Room

    What Are Records?

    Notes

  88. Wish

    Friday I’m in Love

    The Cure

    Wish

    Elektra

    Notes

  89. 99.9 F

    99.9 F°

    Suzanne Vega

    99.9 F°

    A&M

    Notes

  90. Sand in the Vaseline

    Lifetime Piling Up

    Talking Heads

    Sand in the Vaseline

    Sire

    Notes

  91. Bone Machine

    I Don’t Wanna Grow Up

    Tom Waits

    Bone Machine

    Island

    Notes

  92. Congregation

    Tonight

    The Afghan Whigs

    Congregation

    Sub Pop

    Notes

  93. Little Earthquakes

    Silent All These Years

    Tori Amos

    Little Earthquakes

    Atlantic

    Notes

  94. Rush

    Tears in Heaven

    Eric Clapton

    Rush

    Reprise

    Notes

  95. Birds Without Wings

    Birds Without Wings

    David Gray

    Birds Without Wings

    HUT

    Notes

  96. Singles

    Seasons

    Chris Cornell

    Singles

    Epic

    Notes

  97. Blind Melon

    No Rain

    Blind Melon

    Blind Melon

    Capitol

    Notes

  98. Automatic for the People

    Man on the Moon

    R.E.M.

    Automatic for the People

    Warner Bros.

    Notes

  99. Our Time in Eden

    These Are Days

    10,000 Maniacs

    Our Time in Eden

    Elektra

    Notes

  100. The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

    Remedy

    The Black Crowes

    The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion

    Def American

    Notes