Music Monday: 25 Years Ago - A Look Back at 1993 | Los Angeles Public Library
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Music Monday: 25 Years Ago - A Look Back at 1993

Keith Chaffee, Librarian, Collection Development,
Text that reads Music Monday, A Look Back at 1993

The singles charts of 1993 saw more than their share of flash-in-the-pan acts who would never return to the charts after the year was over. Haddaway asked "What Is Love," and 4 Non Blondes wanted to know "what's going on" in a song somewhat confusingly called "What's Up?" (attempting to avoid confusion with Marvin Gaye's classic "What's Going On"). Tag Team's "Whoomp! (There It Is)" brought people to the dance floor, and so did Robin S.'s "Show Me Love" (not to be confused with the entirely different song called "Show Me Love" that was a 1997 hit for a different singer named Robyn). Scottish twins The Proclaimers sang "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles),"  and Canadian reggae singer Snow took "Informer" all the way to #1.

Snow's fellow chart-toppers in 1993 included UB40's update of the Elvis Presley song "Can't Help Falling in Love," Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)," and a lot of R&B acts. Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey each had a pair of #1 hits – Jackson's "That's the Way Love Goes" and "Again," and Carey's "Dreamlover" and "Hero ". SWV hit with "Weak," and Silk with "Freak Me." Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle's song from Aladdin, "A Whole New World," won the Grammy for Song of the Year.

But above all else, 1993 was the year of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." The song had hit #1 the last week of November 1992, and it stayed there for 14 weeks. It was the Grammy winner for Record of the Year, and helped make the soundtrack from The Bodyguard Grammy's Album of the Year.

The other big albums of the year represented a wide array of musical styles. There was the grunge of Pearl Jam's Vs. and Nirvana's In Utero; the Latin-flavored rock/rap of Cypress Hill's Black Sunday; and the very different rock styles of Eric Clapton's Unplugged, Aerosmith's Get a Grip, and U2's Zooropa. Mariah Carey's Music Box and Janet Jackson's Janet. sat alongside the dark electronic music of Depeche Mode's Songs of Faith and Devotion and the show tunes of Barbra Streisand's Back to Broadway. Snoop Doggy Dogg, as he was then known, released his first album, Doggystyle, and Billy Joel released his last album of pop songs, River of Dreams.

Country wasn't making much of an impression on the pop charts in 1993, and the country charts that year were dominated by male singers. Tracy Lawrence's Alibis and Vince Gill's I Still Believe In You each generated multiple hits; Alan Jackson's A Lot About Livin' (and a Little 'Bout Love) produced the year's biggest country song in "Chattahoochee;" and Toby Keith began his long run of success with his first #1 record, "Should've Been a Cowboy."

On Broadway, Kiss of the Spider Woman was named Best Musical of the Year in a field that also included Blood Brothers, The Goodbye Girl, and The Who's Tommy.

The classical music world saw the premieres of John Adams' Violin Concerto and Steve Reich's opera The Cave. Perhaps the strangest musical event of the year was Karlheinz Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet, performed by four musicians, each flying in a separate helicopter, with the sound of their instruments (and of the helicopters) piped into an auditorium for the listening audience. Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra had the year's most acclaimed classical recording, winning three Grammy Awards for their performances of Bartok's The Wooden Prince and Cantata Profana.

Other winners at the 1993 Grammy Awards included jazz artists Joe Henderson (So Near, So Far), Pat Metheny (The Road to You), and Natalie Cole (Take a Look); new age group Paul Winter Consort (Spanish Angel), folk singer Nanci Griffith (Other Voices, Other Rooms), gospel legend Shirley Caesar (Stand Still), blues icon Buddy Guy (Feels Like Rain), and a slide guitar collaboration between American Ry Cooder and Indian V. M. Bhatt (A Meeting by the River).