How Good Was The Year (in music) - 1990?

One small step for HGWTY, one long stretch for Mandela as we leave behind 1962, his year of imprisonment and arrive at the year he was released, 1990.

A reminder of the premise of the thread

After a number of days of posting and reminiscing, we’ll be rating the music of the year out of ten, based on the albums, singles, gigs, whatever that stand out for you that year, and voting for our favourite nominated albums and songs.

Everyone can nominate one album and one song from the year which will then be collated into side-polls two days before the thread closes - please make it clear when you post a nomination for the poll (as opposed to just posting clips or lists of songs and albums you like, which are very welcome).

Rank Year Rating Top Album Top Song
1 1991 8.98 Slint - Spiderland Massive Attack - Unfinished Sympathy
2 1997 8.6 Radiohead - OK Computer The Beta Band - Dry The Rain
3 1967 8.48 Love - Forever Changes Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning
4 1992 8.29 Pavement - Slanted & Enchanted Pulp - Babies
4 2013 8.29 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Jubilee Street
6 2019 8.14 Self Esteem - Compliments Please Big Thief - Not
7 1975 8.13 Neil Young - Tonight’s the Night / Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Cortez the Killer
8 2004 8.1 Madvillain - Madvillainy / Arcade Fire - Funeral The Walkmen - The Rat
9 1981 8.06 The Cure - Faith New Order - Ceremony
10 1982 7.76 The Cure - Pornography / Kate Bush - The Dreaming Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding / The Associates - Party Fears Two
11 2014 7.69 FKA Twigs - LP1 FKA Twigs - Two Weeks
12 1970 7.61 Neil Young - After the Goldrush Curtis Mayfield - Move on Up
13 1976 7.47 David Bowie - Station to Station Bob Dylan - Hurricane
14 1986 7.42 Talk Talk - The Colour of Spring New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
15 2005 7.39 Sufjan Stevens - Illinois Amerie - 1 Thing
16 1965 7.38 The Beatles - Rubber Soul Frank Wilson - Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)
17 2009 7.1 Fever Ray - Fever Ray Animal Collective - My Girls
18 1974 6.95 Neil Young - On The Beach Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson - The Bottle
19 1985 6.53 Tom Waits - Rain Dogs Prince and the Revolution - Raspberry Beret
20 1962 6.00 Howlin’ Wolf - Howlin’ Wolf Dick Dale - Misirlou
21 1961 5.16 John Coltrane - My Favourite Things Roy Orbison - Crying

1990 was the year Nelson Mandela was released after 27.5 years imprisonment, the communist party relinquished sole control of the Soviet Union, Margaret Thatcher resigned as UK Prime Minister, Saddam Hussain’s Iraq invaded Kuwait beginning the gulf war and East and West Germany reunified as one.

We said goodbye to Roald Dahl, Jim Henson, Greta Garbo, Sammy Davis Jr and Art Blakey, and hello to Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, The Weeknd, Margot Robbie, Mario Balotelli and Magnus Carlsen.

How good was the music?

You have until Tuesday 12th July to nominate one album and one song which will then go into a poll along with a number rating poll for year overall out of 10, which will close on Thursday 14th.

Some lists for inspiration:

Best Albums of 1990 : Best Ever Albums
Best albums of 1990 - Rate Your Music
100 Greatest Albums of 1990
NME's best albums and tracks of 1990
100 Greatest Songs From 1990

Nominations will be tallied here as the week goes on:

Album Nominations

Song Nominations

More comments later, nightmare day, but

Album Nomination - Afghan Whigs - Up In It

Song Nomination - The Smashing Pumpkins - Not Worth Asking


Going to add this one early doors, not because I think it’s good, but because I can’t be the only one stunned to find out that Ocean Colour Scene were on NME’s tracks of the year list for 1990 (albeit at number 50) - had no idea they’d been kicking about this early. Your only job now is to see if you can find anything better for the thread.


Starting with an obvious track/album (but only because it’s so so good)

Depeche Mode - Violator


Nominate Album:

Uncle Tupelo - No Depression


I’m sure this is an incredible year, so I’ll do a proper survey in the morning. for now though, I’ll

Nominate Album: The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic

and hope somebody else nominates Heaven or Las Vegas. I’ll take care of the song, though:

Nominate Song: Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas


Incredible year with great albums in metal, variants of industrial, alternative rock, hip-hop, punk, etc. A big crossover year for me as I was getting away from the glam metal and into heavier stuff and alt rock. Lots of stuff I love from this year I didn’t discover till a few years later (industrial, hip-hop, punk) but many I was right there for and remember fondly. More later! Back to the yard work.


nominate album: The Breeders - Pod


Nominate album: Ride - Nowhere


While you’re contemplating your nominations please take a moment to remember this ICON:


Nominate album: Killing Joke - Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions

Nominate Song: Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole


Please can I nominate the song:

Sinéad O’Connor - Black Boys On Mopeds


I’ve probably gone too early but
Nominate album Ultra Vivid Scene - Joy 1967-1990

Nominate song Lemonheads - Different Drum

And optional extra Gig of the year Lemonheads with Buffalo Tom at the Manchester International


An honour is this

Song Nomination
Pet Shop Boys - Being Boring

I think it’s one of the best lyrics ever, defiant, nostalgic and just deeply very sad.


Other favourites in a year full with 10/10’s

Nothing else by Ride has ever grabbed me but Vapour Trail is perfection, it sounds so innocent, and them strings

Heaven or Las Vegas is very fine, I have particular love for the bookends, I get totally lost in Cherry Coloured Funk and Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires (wild title) is pure rapture

I had a great pal at school who let me borrow me his Green Day albums and there were two songs I’d play to death, 2000 Light Years Away from 1991’s Kerplunk and this one

Pick a card, any card … Wrong!

Says 91 on the Youtube description but I’ll trust Discogs that this came out in 90, sounds so thick and gorgeous


Happy to oblige and nominate album: Cocteau Twins - Heaven Or Las Vegas. An all-timer in every parallel universe.

Nominate single: Lush - Sweetness & Light. Super strong year for 4AD, arguably the label’s peak.


I was too young to watch when it aired but when I did, 10 years later, Twin Peaks blew me away, that potent mix of the mystery, menace, innocence and goodness, a real unique atmosphere, incredibly influential. I think a big part of that is the score and sound design, it’s got a a great ost. I was so sad to hear of Julee Cruise’s passing, her songs will always haunt me.

So good

I imagine all Peaks fans have seen this, but if you haven’t please do, it’s superb

season 1 episode 3 GIF by Twin Peaks on Showtime


Outside of your alternative bands, what albums were actually popular that year in Pop and Rock? Google claims Goo is a pop album that year so that’s bollocks.

Anyway, Ritual De Lo Habitual is my fav 1990 album.

I nominate it I guess. Not sure how this works x


Well said.

One of the few years I’ve listened to in depth. My top 30 albums:

  1. The Breeders - Pod
  2. Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas
  3. Depeche Mode - Violator
  4. Pet Shop Boys - Behaviour
  5. The Sundays - Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
  6. Ride - Nowhere
  7. Sonic Youth - Goo
  8. The KLF - Chill Out
  9. Prefab Sprout - Jordan: The Comeback
  10. The Beloved - Happiness
  11. The Grid - Electric Head
  12. Pixies - Bossanova
  13. Jane’s Addicition - Ritual de lo Habitual
  14. Angelo Badalamenti - Twin Peaks
  15. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Good Son
  16. Happy Mondays - Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches
  17. Teenage Fanclub - A Catholic Education
  18. Lou Reed & John Cale - Songs for Drella
  19. The Shamen - En-Tact
  20. McCarthy - Banking Violence and the Inner Life Today
  21. Fugazi - Repeater
  22. The Field Mice - Skywriting
  23. The Fall - Extricate
  24. John Zorn - Naked City
  25. Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
  26. Deee-Lite - World Clique
  27. James - Gold Mother
  28. Spacemen 3 - Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To
  29. Meat Beat Manifesto - 99%
  30. The House of Love - The House of Love.

Just off the bottom of the list is Eno / Cale - Wrong Way Up, which features one of my favourite Eno vocal tunes, so…

nominate song: Eno / Cale - Spinning Away

It’s a joyous piece of music.