When I first started this little nostalgia trip endeavor, I wasn’t thinking too seriously about it. My intention was to prove to myself (and anyone else who was curious) that the 90s was an overall better decade in the entertainment industry than the 2010s are (or were, in the present-tense). After going through each month in that year (albeit it’s likely I overlooked a thing or two; made edits to various entries attempting to correct that), I believe I can safely say that just the year 1990 was a better year than the last 5 years (2015-2019) combined, let alone any one of those years. I wasn’t expecting there to be so many great films/games/shows that have stood the test of time and continue to be experienced on a regular basis today. And I haven’t even gotten into the true period of the console wars yet (that will happen in 1991, when the Super Nintendo System gets released and gives the Sega Genesis the fight of its life, and possibly even beats it, in hindsight, with the titles it produced over its lifespan). Not to mention the music, which puts the current mainstream industry around nowadays to shame.
Discovered some things I hadn’t ever heard of, had heard of but hadn’t experienced, or just simply rediscovered things from the past that I garnered a new appreciation for. So I’d like to highlight what I consider to be the best of the best that 1990 put out.
The Black Crowes: Shake Your Money Maker (January)
Just the hit song Hard to Handle is enough of a reason to recommend this album, but there are at least 2 other very solid track that are worth a listen.
MC Hammer: Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em (February)
Primus: Frizzle Fry (February)
Gamma Ray: Heading for Tomorrow (February)
Depeche Mode: Violator (March)
Heart: Brigade (March)
Social Distortion: Social Distortion (March)
Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet (April)
Bathory: Hammerheart (March)
Yngwie Malmsteen: Eclipse (May)
Snap!: World Power (May)
New Kids on the Block: Step by Step (June)
Not on here by personal choice.
Danzig: Danzig II Lucifuge (June)
2 Live Crew: Banned in the U.S.A. (July)
Controversy and censorship surrounded this release. Brought about the Parental Advisory label.
Jon Bon Jovi: Blaze of Glory (August)
Prince: Graffiti Bridge (August)
Black Sabbath: Tyr (August)
Alice in Chains: Facelift (August)
Jane’s Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual (August)
Garth Brookes: No Fences (August)
Vanilla Ice: To the Extreme (September)
Judas Priest: Painkiller (September)
Warrant: Cherry Pie (September)
Annihilator: Never, Neverland (September)
Megadeath: Rust in Peace (September)
INXS: X (September)
Steve Vai: Passion and Warfare (September)
The LaLa’s (self-titled album; October)
Deep Purple: Slaves & Masters (October)
Scorpions: Crazy World (November)
C+C Music Factory: Gonna Make You Sweat (December)
Cinema Paradiso (February)
House Party (March)
Blind Fury (March)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (March)
The Hunt for Red October (March)
Class of 1999 (May)
Total Recall (June)
Presumed Innocent (July)
Young Guns II (August)
DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (August)
Mo’ Better Blues (August)
The Two Jakes (August)
Watch only if you’ve seen Chinatown, as this is a sequel that does utilize moments from the previous film to build upon.
The Exorcist III (August)
May want to see The Exorcist (the first one) while you’re at it too.
Pump Up the Volume (August)
After Dark, My Sweet (August)
White Hunter Black Heart (September)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (September)
Miller’s Crossing (October)
Jacob’s Ladder (November)
Home Alone (November)
The Rescuers Down Under (November)
Dances with Wolves (November)
Reversal of Fortune (November)
Edward Scissorhands (December)
Kiki’s Delivery Service (December)
The Bonfire of the Vanities (December)
The Russia House (December)
Kindergarten Cop (December)
Clash at Demonhead (NES; January)
Quite possibly my favorite NES game discovery of the year. Everything I had already known about to some extent, but not this one.
Top Gun: The Second Mission (NES; January)
Wings (Amiga; January)
Batman (NES; February)
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES; February)
Phantasy Star II (Sega Genesis; March)
Galaxian 3 (Arcade; April)
Mainly for the multiplayer arcade experience alone.
Super C (NES; April)
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (NES; May)
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (NES; June)
Columns (Sega Genesis; June)
Ghostbusters (Sega Genesis; June)
Target Earth (Sega Genesis; June)
Cyberball (Sega Genesis; June)
Sid Meier’s Covert Action (MS-DOS, Amiga; June)
Ultima VI: The False Prophet (MS-DOS, Amiga; June)
Crystalis (NES; July)
Final Fantasy (NES; July)
Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker (Sega Genesis, Arcade; July/August)
The Genesis and arcade versions were two completely different games in terms of gameplay. The games themselves were just so-so at best, but the Michael Jackson name made them culturally significant and popular at the time.
Gargoyle’s Quest (Game Boy; July)
Dr. Mario (NES; July)
Pit Fighter (Arcade; August)
Punch-Out!! (NES; August)
Little Nemo: The Dream Master (NES; September)
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES; September)
Devil’s Crush (TurboGrafx-16; September)
Wing Commander (MS-DOS; September)
Thunder Force III (Sega Genesis (October)
The Secret of Monkey Island (Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS; October)
Mega Man 3 (NES; November)
Strider (Sega Genesis; November)
Speedball 2 Brutal Deluxe (Atari ST, Amiga, Amiga CD32, Commodore 64, PC, Sega Master System; November)
Ys: Books I & II (TurbograFX-16)
I’m not sure what month this game was released.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game (NES; December)
Star Tropics (NES; December)
M.U.S.H.A. (Sega Genesis; December)
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Sega Genesis; December
America’s Funniest Home Videos (January)
While this probably isn’t something anybody would really watch nowadays considering you can get videos just like this online whenever you feel like it, the nostalgia and memories of this show is something I hold dear. At a time where this show was the main outlet for watching home videos of people doing stupid shit and getting hurt, plus having Bob Saget as the host. Fun times with the family.
The Simspons (January)
Like I stated before, this technically started in December 1989, but it became more of a regular thing in 1990, so I’m counting it as a January starter.
Nasty Boys (February)
Road to Avonlea (March)
In Living Color (April)
Twin Peaks (April)
Dream On (July)
Northern Exposure (July)
Jim Henson’s Mother Goose Stories (August)
Parker Lewis Can’t Lose (September)
Bobby’s World (September)
Peter Pan & the Pirates (September)
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (September)
Tiny Toon Adventures (September)
Captain Planet and the Planeteers (September)
Law & Order (September)
Ken Burns: The Civil War (September)
Beverly Hills, 90210 (October)
The famous miniseries adaptation of the Stephen King novel.
Edit (7-5-2021): Edited top music list. Removed Slaughter: Stick It To Ya, Don Dokken: Up From the Ashes, and Sisters of Mercy: Vision Thing. Added Alice in Chains: Facelift, Jane’s Addiction: Ritual de lo Habitual, and Garth Brookes: No Fences.
Edit (2-20-2023): Added Vanilla Ice: To the Extreme to top music list.