* ok, and a couple from the late 80’s.
Of course this is a highly subjective list, but here’s my criteria for the list :
- The “underrated” detail is key; this disqualifies chart-topping singles, and songs generally considered to be the greatest of their genre or era. “Thriller” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, for examples.
- The more popular the artist, the harder for them to have a spot on the list. Since virtually everything a Radiohead or Kanye West is critically acclaimed, it’s hard for their work to be considered underrated
- Released from 1988 to 2001
#10 – “Interstate Love Song” Stone Temple Pilots
The theme music for an autumn drive. You lip-sync every time you hear this. Admit it.
#9 – “Praying For Time” George Michael
This song is just beautifully written and performed. Period.
#8 – “Only” Anthrax
A bit heavy for most tastes, admittedly. But quite possibly a perfect hard-rock song.
#7 – “Would?” Alice in Chains
The haunting sparseness of the song will allow it to sound more timeless than their grunge contemporaries.
#6 – “Follow The Leader” Eric B & Rakim
Rakim never got the credit he deserved. The peak of his career came before they figured out how to market rap music. Brutally relentless in his delivery, no gimmicks, no bullshit.
#5 – “Midlife Crisis” Faith No More
Surreal, poetic lyrics…layered melodies…and just enough of the trademark FNM quirkiness.
#4 – “The Choice is Yours [Revisited]” Black Sheep
Instantly recognizable and sing-able for every American aged 30-45. Yet almost never mentioned in any compilation of the best hip-hop songs of the era.
#3 – “Cult of Personality” Living Colour
We’ve covered this earlier, but in my opinion it was this song, not Nirvana, that started the rebirth of rock music.
#2 – “By The Time I Get To Arizona” Public Enemy
Everything that hip-hop could be, both lyrically and sonically.
#1 – “Something To Believe In” Poison
Although most people reflexively dismiss anything from any hair-metal band, this song was sincere and simple. It still stirs emotion 20 years on, even if alcohol or privacy is needed to show it.