The 90s music trends offered a special time for music lovers, thanks to the extraordinary variety that spanned across this decade. Unlike the 70s, which was primarily known for disco, punk, and glam rock, or the 80s that brought new wave and hair metal to the forefront, the 90s was an amalgamation of anything and everything. While some may reminisce about the Beatles in the 60s or modern artists like Ed Sheeran, it’s hard to deny the allure of the 90s music trends, which left listeners utterly spoilt for choice.
The rise of girl and boy bands
One of the most famous boy bands in the UK then was formed directly to compete with the US-based boy band New Kids on the Block. The band originally was going to have the name “Kick it” but then was renamed Take That. They are still performing today, but not with all the original band members from their origins in Manchester.
As we continue our journey of famous 90s boy bands and 90s girl groups, this is also one you may be familiar with: the Spice Girls. Each member had spice in their name, according to their personality, and they had some of the most legendary music still listened to today. Many girls would associate themselves with one or more of the Spice Girls, and they had a mix of pop and positive messages known for their use of ‘Girl Power.’
These bands were icons, and it wasn’t just about their music. All the members were trendsetters and fashion icons with the out-of-the-norm outfits they would use in their performances and on their music videos. Everything from the clothes, haircuts and mottos would influence their millions of fans not just in the UK but globally.
The birth of Britpop as one of the UK's 90s music trends
This was the evolution of rock and pop in the 90s to promote British-styled music and, well, everything about the UK. It was a direct response to the grunge movement that also started in the United States, spearheaded by Nirvana which moved over to the UK.
Britpop acted as a growth of the popular pop music of the 60s, hence looking at it as an evolution. The lyrics, topics and styles were also appropriately with a heavy focus on British themes as well. Grunge may be a bit heavier, with it using a lot of heavy rock components, along with a more gloomy tone, compared to the more upbeat vibe of Britpop.
In the middle of the decade, that summer was the unofficial battle of Britpop bands that existed, with the top two at the time vying for that first-place spot. The two indie heavyweights at the time were Blur and Oasis, which in their own rights, are still fondly in everyone’s memories today and listened to by many globally. But, of course, to the dismay of Oasis fans, Blur took the number one spot for a while. Other famous bands during this time were Suede, Pulp and Elastica.
The style of these bands was actually quite casual, with an emphasis on comfort and non-conformity over any specific fashion . One thing we’ll always appreciate from these bands is their fondness and popularity of bucket hats.
The rise of Electronic Music as one of the UK music trends of the 90s
The 80s helped usher in house and techno dance music to the mainstream, but the 90s saw huge experimentation that has led to modern EDM styles some of us love today. First, there was the extremely hardcore drum and base movement, sometimes known as “jungle” when combined with ragga music. This was big on instrumental usage in the music and keeping the beat going and hard.
A lot of the places to hear this type of music and many electronic music styles were at parties that had the name “Raves”, which were technically illegal. These raves would go on for days at a time and are a distant memory to what we have these days, which are much safer music festivals. However, raves were part of the underground movement of electronic music and were also home to some of the legends that helped cement this music style around the world.
Eventually these raves became too dangerous, and people went back to the club scene that would play a simpler alternative to rave music known as house and sometimes the combination of house and hip hop known as Trip hop. Some of the massive names on the scene were the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. This style had the name “big beat”. It was a combination of sounds never heard and had people dancing until the early morning with the hybrid styles of dance, rap, and electro.
The Electronic Music scene itself was all about dark clubs and synthetic lighting. We’re talking about glow sticks and bright colours as indicators of where other people were. The styles would be as minimal as possible due to the freedom of movement that you would require for the heavy dancing involved with this type of music.
A great era
While we only seemed to cover three distinct types of musical genres, each of these spawned numerous subgenres that would continue into today. It was a point in time when anything was possible, experimentation was a requirement, and you could love multiple styles of music simply based on your overall mood.
The styles would change quickly, and keeping up with the latest single (when they came on CDs and not digitally) would be an event in of itself when people would gather the night before at music stores or record stores to catch the latest single of any of these musical legends.
There were also some insanely good one-hit wonders in the 90s that are surely worth revisiting!