Top 10 Songs of 1996

Everything But the Girl
Everything But the Girl. Photo by Ebet Roberts / Redferns

1996 was a year with a number of wistful, melancholy hits including Everything But the Girl's "Missing," the Fugees remake of "Killing Me Softly," Smashing Pumpkins' "1979," and Collective Soul's "The World I Know."

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Everything But the Girl - "Missing"

Everything But the Girl - Missing
Courtesy Atlantic

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Everything But the Girl emerged in the spotlight as a jazz and folk-oriented duo. They twice reached the top 40 of the adult contemporary chart in the U.S. The duo recorded the song "Missing" as a guitar-based track, but then remixer Todd Terry was given the song to create a record for clubs. The result ultimately was a worldwide smash. It spent more than a year on the pop chart in the US peaking at #2. It changed the direction of Everything But the Girl's music as well. Four #1 dance hits followed in the U.S.

"Missing" is included on the Everything But the Girl album Amplified Heart. It was the duo's first to reach the top 50 of the U.S. chart. The duo recorded two more albums, Walking Wounded and Temperamental, before going on indefinite hiatus in 1999.

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Blackstreet - "No Diggity" featuring Dr. Dre

Blackstreet - No Diggity
Courtesy Interscope

Teddy Riley's new jack swing collided with the beats and raps of Dr. Dre, and a classic track was born. Hype Williams directed the accompanying music video. "No Diggity" topped both the pop and R&B charts ending up as one of the top 40 biggest pop hits of the decade. 

Teddy Riley first intended "No Diggity" as a song to be recorded by his trio Guy for their 1996 reunion. However, the group ended up not recording an album. Then he offered it to Aaron Hall, a member of Guy, to record solo. He rejected the song, and Teddy Riley's other group finally accepted "No Diggity" with the stipulation that Teddy Riley sings the first verse.

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Smashing Pumpkins - "1979"

Smashing Pumpkins - 1979
Courtesy Virgin

Smashing Pumpkins surprised fans and critics alike by incorporating more looping and sampling into their music on "1979." The result was an unqualified success and gained a nomination for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards. "1979" was the final song of 56 written for the group's double album Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. It hit #1 on the modern rock and mainstream rock charts as well as peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris directed the accompanying music video for "1979." They also worked on the group's acclaimed "Tonight Tonight" video. The concept of the clip is capturing a day in the life of bored teens from suburban Chicago where the group's lead vocalist Billy Corgan grew up. The music video won the MTV Video Music Award's Best Alternative Video honor.

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Fugees - "Killing Me Softly"

Fugees - Killing Me Softly
Courtesy Ruff House

Critically acclaimed hip-hop trio the Fugees broke into the pop mainstream with this remake of Roberta Flack's classic hit. It went clear to #2 on the pop chart and ultimately was certified double platinum for sales. It hit #1 in the UK and was the best selling single of the year.

The Fugees' recording of "Killing Me Softly" includes a sample from "Bonita Applebaum" by the rap collective A Tribe Called Quest. The single was so successful; the record label took the unusual step of pulling it from the shelves to encourage sales of the next Fugees single. "Killing Me Softly" earned a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.


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Collective Soul - "The World I Know"

Collective Soul - The World I Know
Courtesy Atlantic

Collective Soul's hit single "The World I Know" is perhaps as remembered for its dramatic and ultimately uplifting music video as it is for the music. The clip directly addresses adult suicide. "The World I Know" was a multi-format hit reaching the top 10 on the modern rock and mainstream rock charts as well as the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Collective Soul's lead vocalist Ed Roland co-wrote the song with the group's guitarist Ross Childress.

Collective Soul followed "The World I Know" with four more #1 charting mainstream rock songs. Collective Soul released their most recent album See What You Started By Continuing in 2015.

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Los del Rio - "Macarena"

Los Del Rio - Macarena
Courtesy RCA

"Macarena" originated with the Spanish pop group Los del Rio and gradually spread to become a phenomenon around the world. It spent 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and became the hottest dance craze of the decade. The popular Bayside Boys remix notably sampled the laughter of Alison Moyet from Yaz's hit single "Situation." Billboard named "Macarena" the second most successful Billboard Hot 100 hit of the decade.

The Macarena dance even spread into the political realm. It was very popular at the 1996 Democratic Political Convention. Vice President Al Gore, noted for his "stiff" and "wooden" appearance, stood still and told the delegates it was his version of dancing the Macarena.

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Tracy Chapman - "Give Me One Reason"

Tracy Chapman - Give Me One Reason
Courtesy Elektra

Tracy Chapman brought classic twelve-bar blues back into the spotlight with her hit "Give Me One Reason." It went to #3 in the US and #1 in Canada.  Tracy Chapman earned Grammy Award nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year as well as winning the Grammy for Best Rock Song. Tracy Chapman performed the song live on the TV show Saturday Night Live in 1989 six years before it was released.

Tracy Chapman first came to widespread public attention in 1988 with the release of her debut single "Fast Car." The song hit #6 on the pop singles chart and earned Grammy Awards nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

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Quad City DJ's - "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)"

Quad City DJs - C'mon and Ride It
Courtesy Quadrasound

Jacksonville, Florida based trio Quad City DJ's brought the Miami bass movement into the spotlight with party classic "C'mon N' Ride It (The Train)." The song peaked at #3 on the pop singles chart and received a platinum certification for sales. It was built around a sample from Barry White's "Theme from Together Brothers."

Quad City DJ's were the third project by Jacksonville, Florida natives Jay Ski and C.C. Lemonhead to produce a major national pop hit single. They worked on 95 South's "Whoot, There It Is" and 69 Boyz' "Tootsee Roll." Quad City DJ's also contributed the song "Space Jam" to the soundtrack of the film of the same name.

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Dishwalla - "Counting Blue Cars"

Dishwalla - Counting Blue Cars
Courtesy A&M

"Counting Blue Cars" by the rock group Dishwalla was one of the biggest multi-format hits of the year climbing into the top 5 at pop, adult contemporary, modern rock, and rock radio. The group's name Dishwalla comes from a Hindi term for the person who provides satellite TV to a neighborhood.

"Counting Blue Cars" was the group's biggest pop hit single. It is included on the gold-certified album Pet Your Friends. The song earned an ASCAP award for Most Played Song of the Year on the radio.

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Oasis - "Wonderwall"

Oasis - Wonderwall
Courtesy Creation Records

"Wonderwall's" aching romanticism has made it one of the most popular songs of the career of British rock leaders Oasis. In the UK it frequently shows up in polls related to the top songs of all time. "Wonderwall" is the group's only top 10 hit in the US. Songwriter Noel Gallagher told the BBC the song is about, "an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself."

"Wonderwall" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Song. It hit #1 on the alternative songs chart in the U.S. After Oasis broke up, Liam Gallagher's group Beady Eye performed "Wonderwall" live at the closing ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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