While the music of the 80s remains probably my biggest passion and forte as a top Charleston Wedding DJ, the early 90s saw an incredible diversity in the types of music being released. 1991 saw the introduction of grunge music to the mainstream, which was also during a time I like to call the Golden Era Of Dance Music. The early 90s also saw a continuation of a lot of the chart success seen by 80s Soft Rock artists like Richard Marx, Phil Collins, Elton John, and Billy Joel. Simply put, 1991 had it all. Pop. Grunge. Alternative. Rock. Country. Dance.
Before we get into my exploration of some the greatest songs from 1991, let's take a closer look at what was going on back during that year. Freddie Mercury would die on November 24, 1991, which would lead to Bohemian Rhapsody being re-released and entering the Billboard charts again reaching #2 on the Hot 100 by the spring of 1992. Back in 1991, the Dow topped 3,000 for the very first time. The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.12, and you would spend 85 cents on average for a dozen eggs. In 1991, the first web browser is introduced and there was said to be only about a million people on the internet. "Roseanne" and "Murphy Brown" were a few of top TV shows of 1991, as we were still 3 years away from the debut of "Friends". Oh, and the Soviet Union would be no more by Christmas Day 1991. The record of the year would go to the late Natalie Cole with "Unforgettable". Through the power of technology, Natalie Cole and her late father Nat King Cole would do a duet on "Unforgettable". Ed Sheeran was born on February 17, 1991, rapper Fetty Wap was born on June 7, and singer Charlie Puth was born on December 2. Country singer Hunter Hayes was also born in 1991, on September 9.
Popular Movies In 1991
The Addams Family
Silence Of The Lambs
Robin Hood: Prince Of Theives
I'm so excited about putting this post I cannot contain myself. As I am putting it together for you, I am remembering listening to the radio religiously and hearing most all of this music. Of course back then it was radio and record stores that allowed for most of the discovery of new and breaking music. I'm gonna let you decide just how big 1991 was when it came to music. But it was an incredible year for all types of music. Metal would reign supreme, along with country, pop, dance, and grunge. Looking back I only wish I was old enough to enter a night club back in the summer of 1991. The stories I continue to hear were unbelievable. The music being released that summer is still some of the best ever, and you'll see it in this post.
"The First Time" | Surface
1991 saw a lot of crossover to the Hot 100 from R&B groups like Surface. If you were interested in throwing in some romantic ealry 90s R&B into your Charleston wedding playlist, this song would be perfect. Released in the fall of 1990, the song would eventually top the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in late January / early February 1991.
"Gonna Make You Sweat [Everybody Dance Now]" | C&C Music Factory
David Cole & Robert Clivilles (the creatives behind C&C Music Factory) released a monumental dance album Gonna Make You Sweat in the latter part of 1990. The title track "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now" featured Martha Wash and Freedom Williams. It's one of those songs as a DJ you would like to drop at a club or a wedding for the first time. Some of my mentors were DJing on the radio and the nightclubs in 1991 as this song reached Number 1 for 2 weeks in February 1991.
"Justified & Ancient" | The KLF
Back in 1991, we were all bound to go to Mu Mu Land. Released in the spring of 1991, the KLF got Tammy Wynette to sing on this song and it became a huge club hit reaching #2 on the Billboard Dance songs chart.
"Black Or White" | Michael Jackson
"Black Or White" was the first single to be released off the album "Dangerous" in November of 1991. The song would hit Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 less than a month after it's release.
"Unbelievable" | EMF
There are several points in time I would like to revisit and one of those times would be the summer of 1991. While I was alive in the summer of 1991, I was not frequenting the clubs around Charleston, so I was not near a dance floor when the DJ dropped this track for the first time. The song was released in May of 1991 in the U.S and would be a summer #1 by July. There have been numerous remixes of this classic. One of my personal favorites is the Bambaataa House Mix.
"Everything I Do, I Do It For You" | Bryan Adams
If you were listening to the radio through out the summer of 1991, you could not possibly miss this song. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner was one of the biggest movies of the year. This instant classic by Bryan Adams would become a strong recurrent song at Charleston weddings, even used for a first dance in 2019. The song would reach Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the Adult contemporary charts and become one of the most popular songs of the year.
"Enter Sandman" | Metallica
Back in the summer of 1991, people were lined up outside record stores to purchase their copy of their self-titled album (The Black Album). "Enter Sandman" was the first single to be released and would catapault Metallica into super stardom. When you look at the complete musical landscape of 1991, "Enter Sandman" was filling that void in the hard rock world.
"Strike It Up" | Blackbox
When the late 80s became the early 90s, there was a period where dance music was making it very high up on the Billboard charts. The Italian group, Blackbox released what would become a club anthem in 1991. Officially released in February of 1991, "Strike It Up" is another of those songs I would have loved to have heard the day that the DJ received it. "Strike It Up" would peak at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"More Than Words" | Extreme
After their beginnings in the 80s as a hard rock band, Extreme never expected to have one of the top adult contemporary songs of 1991. But as we saw in the latter part of the 80s, the early 90s continued to see hard rock bands writing power ballads like "More Than Words". Released in the spring of 1991, the song would top the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and climb to Number 2 on the adult contemporary charts. "More Than Words" is a great ballad that could be thrown on your playlist for dinner at your Charleston wedding.
"Motownphilly" | Boys II Men
If you are gonna party like it's the early 90s at your Charleston wedding, this debut song by Boys II Men is a great addition to your playlist. The song was released in the spring of 1991 and would peak at #3 on the Billboard charts.
"Good Vibrations" | Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch
Please excuse me while I close my eyes and try to time warp back to your favorite night club during the summer of 1991. "Good Vibrations" was another banger that was released during the summer of '91 and instantly became a Number 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. When you put songs like this alongside some of the other dance songs already featured on this post, you can begin to see how 1991 was truly an epic year in the world of music.
"Summertime" | DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Keeping with the incredible amount of dance music being released and ready for the clubs in the summer of 1991, this song was released in the spring and would break into the Top 5 on the Hot 100, and peak at #1 on the Hot R&B / Hip-Hop charts.
"Something To Talk About" | Bonnie Raitt
Your wonderful wedding here in Charleston will be something that your guests will be talking about for years. "Something To Talk About" was featured on the album Luck Of The Draw and was another song of the summer of 1991 reaching both the Top 5 on the Hot 100, as well as the adult contemporary charts. It's mellow and easy and definitely worthy of a spin at your cocktail hour or dinner.
"Wicked Game" | Chris Issak
The perfect soft rock from the early 1990s right here. The video itself would make you and your fiance think of flying to Bali today. The song hit the charts in early 1991 and would peak at #6 in June. The vibe of this song is ideal for a chill cocktail hour or dinner.
"Crazy" | Seal
Released in July of 1991, "Crazy" has an excellent vibe for a 90s Cocktail Hour. It would be the first time we'd hear from Seal, but certainly not the last. Alanis Morrisette would cover this song back in 2005.
"Emotions" | Mariah Carey
I've always been a big fan of the early part of Mariah Carey's career. "Emotions" would be her fifth overall single, and would reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1991.
"Thunder Rolls" | Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks was blowing up all over the radio in 1990, and that success continued into 1991. "Thunder Rolls" was the 4th song to be released from his monumental "Friends In Low Places" album. The success of this record would allow Garth Brooks to become the best-selling country artist of all time.
"Now That We Found Love" | Heavy D & The Boyz
I don't want to sound like a broken record, but here is another great dance track released during the great summer of 1991. Originally recorded by the O-Jays in 1973, the Heavy D version would peak at #11 on the Hot 100 in the fall of 1991, but reach #2 on the Dance charts. Over the years, the song has been a popular choice for the bridal party introduction song.
"Love Of A Lifetime" | Firehouse
If you were going to rock concerts in the early 90s, you were probably grabbing a few Bic lighters before entering the concert venue. Power ballads were a huge draw and always had a way of making us all go "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh". I mean, the title of this song is why you are having your wedding, right? "Love Of A Lifetime" would hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the fall of 1991.
"The Promise Of A New Day" | Paul Abdul
July 20, 1991 might just be one of the greatest days in music history, at least in the 90s. So many great songs were released on or about this day, and this upbeat song from Paula is one of them. If you are wanting an early 90s pop vibe for your cocktail hour, this is the perfect addition to your wedding playlist. The song would hit Number 1 for a week in the fall of 1991.
"The Way You Do The Things You Do" | UB 40
Reggae is the perfect choice for a laid back cocktail hour at one of Charleston's most beautiful wedding venues by the water. UB 40 would do an excellent job at covering this Temptations classic and the song would peak at #6 on the Hot 100 in the winter of 1991.
"Around The Way Girl" | LL Cool J
"Around The Way Girl" is definitely early 90s rap at it's finest. The song would be the first time that LL Cool J would break into the Top 10 on the Hot 100. The perfect addition to any wedding playlist for any couple wanting some 90s rap / hip hop.
"Tom's Diner" | DNA featuring Suzanne Vega
Suzanne Vega originally wrote this song in 1982. DNA, a group from Britain would do a remix in late 1990, which would gain traction and make "Tom's Diner" a Top 5 song on the Billboard Hot charts, unless the original recording which did not chart at all in the United States.
"Joyride" | Roxette
"Joyride" was the title of the this hot Swedish duo's third record and this lead single would become Number 1 during the spring of 1991. "Joyride" is my choice for those couples wanting an upbeat 90s cocktail hour at their wedding.
"Losing My Religion" | REM
If you asked the members of REM what they thought about "Losing My Religion", they probably would give you a dirty look. "Losing My Religion" was the song that would give the band worldwide fame and is the perfect addition to a 90s alternative cocktail hour. You can find the song on their album "Out Of Time", an album that also features the fun song "Shiny Happy People"
"I Wanna Sex You Up" | Color Me Badd
You might remember this song from the movie "New Jack City" which starred Wesley Snipes and Ice-T. The song would debut on the Hot 100 in the spring of 1991 and become a Number 1 single in the summer. DJs might throw this song on later in the night before everyone leaves the reception for your after party.
"Groove Is In The Heart" | Dee-Lite
You are going to dance and "have some fun" when this song comes on at your wedding reception. Released in the fall of 1990, "Groove Is In The Heart" would peak at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the winter of 1991.
"Round And Round" | Tevin Campbell
Tevin Campbell would see most of his success on the R&B charts later in his career, but his first single "Round & Round" would peak at #12 on the Hot 100 charts in the spring of 1991. The style of this song was New Jack Swing, which was a very popular genre in the late 80s and early 90s. The song was produced by Prince and featured in the movie "Graffiti Bridge". If you can manage to find the video for the song on You Tube, you'll see Prince in the video.
"Touch Me (All Night Long)" | Cathy Dennis
Originally written by singer Fonda Rae and the band Wish, Cathy Dennis recorded and released in early 1991 and turned it into a huge club banger. "Touch Me" (All Night Long) would peak at #2 in the spring of 1991.
"Because I Love You (The Postman Song)" | Stevie B
This lovely ballad by Stevie B would enter the Billboard charts in the fall of 1990, and would peak at Number 1 in February of '91. For the couple looking to add a beautiful 90s love song to their dinner playlist, this is a must-add.
Other Notable Songs Of 1991
One of the draws for me to do this post about the music of 1991 was a lot of the other pop / R&B / dance songs you might have heard on the radio or in the clubs in 1991. There were a lot of songs that were released that might not have hit the Top 10, but were still integral in shaping the sound of 1991. That overall sound was a potent mixture of pop / dance / R&B / New Jack Swing, as well as the introduction of grunge in late 1991, along with rock and alternative. The songs down below are worth mentioning and were a big part of that overall sound.
|"Temptation" | Corina|
|"Piece Of My Heart" | Tara Kemp|
|"Right Here Right Now" | Jesus Jones|
|"You're In Love" | Wilson Phillips|
|"Show Me The Way" | Styx|
|"Everybody Plays The Fool" | Aaron Neville|
|"OPP" | Naughty By Nature|
|"Silent Lucidity" | Queensryche|
|"Here I Am (Come & Take Me)" | UB 40|
|"I Touch Myself" | Divinyls|
|"Do Anything" | Natural Selection|
|"Just Like You" | Robbie Nevil|
|"Every Heartbeat" | Amy Grant|
Want To Hire One Of The Top Charleston Wedding DJs?
I cannot believe I finally got this post finished. Oftentimes the inspiration for these types of posts come from the vast amount of music research I find myself doing on a regular basis. I still have flashbacks of listening to the radio in 1991 and hearing all of the amazing music coming out of the speakers. I remember driving around in my little clunker of a Dodge Colt that had crackling speakers trying to soak it all in. Based on how music is distributed today, I don't know if we could ever have a year where so much hit music is generated across all the genres mentioned in this post. We certainly live in a different time today, but I thought it was worth noting how 1991 was a year that made everyone happy across all genres. As you probably have figured out, music is my passion. I believe that musical knowledge is one of the most important aspects to look for when hiring a DJ. After all, it's "music" that makes memories and provides the soundtrack to your wedding. I hope you enjoyed this post. One of my favorite decades of music and one that I am the most knowledgeable are the 80s, but I could not leave 1991 alone. For even more information about me and my style as a wedding DJ, please take a listen at my new podcast. You can find The Mike Bills Podcast, wherever you find your podcasts like Apple Podcasts and Google Play. To schedule a time to speak with me about your wedding, please click back over to the main website and fill out a quick contact form for a few more details about your big day. Please, if you have not done so already, click back over to other areas of my blog to see even more of my content to help you find the right DJ for your most important of your life.