‘I’m under no illusion. There are lots of male singers out there with raspy voices’ – Lewis Capaldi
Herein lies the final of my A-Z of 90s pop music series and in what has been a bit of a labouor of love for me, i’m not ashamed to say i’m pleased to see the back of all this. However I’m unable to leave things unfinished so adding to the list of Boy Bands, Girl Groups and Female Solo singers, I now bring you a nostalgic A-Z of 90s male solo stars:
What a way to kick this off. Bryan Adams is one of the few artists that appear in the centre of Dave and I’s music venn diagram. Him being more of a fan of the rockier ‘Run to You’ type stuff, and me being a fan of a power ballad. My respect for this man is two fold. 1. He refuses to mime on any TV performance and cancels the appearance if he can’t sing live, and 2. If he’s touring on a new album, he knows that all people want to hear is Summer of 69 and Everything I Do (I Do it for You). And he wilfully obliges. Legend.
I have a soft spot for Pete. He’s super cheesy but he knows it and owns it. There’s nothing worse than a celeb with an over inflated sense of self and who is unable to take the piss out of themselves (I’m looking at you, Chris Martin). Controversially, some of his early stuff was actually dead good (Flava, All About Us, Alright/All Night etc’. He jumped the shark with Insania, but he was with Jordan at the time so no wonder he went a little but bonkers.
Speaking of soft spots, the softest spot I have is undoubtedly reserved for Mr B. Talk about a classy gent. He was never my favourite in Take That (I was a Mark girl all the way), but his talent was undeniable and when they split up and Gary and Robbie went solo, the way he handled himself when Robbie was being a prick about him was remarkable. I’m still low key angry that he let Robbie back in the band years later but I guess it means the power was back in his hands. That said if 90s solo stuff wasn’t amazing. He redeemed himself with Let Me Go in 2013.
1999 was a big year for music for me, it was the year everyone in my year at school was starting to turn 18 which meant a load of parties. And the song that got everyone on the dancefloor? Mambo No 5. Because let’s be honest, it’s an absolute bop. Lou (real name David, fact fans) then went on to release I Got A Girl, which borrowed from the Vengaboys formula of release songs that all sound identical and hopefully no one will notice. He continues to be moderately successful in Germany and released his 6th album 2013.
I don’t even know where to start with this hot mess. My parents will love to tell you think story about how I made them visit every record shop in Germany in 1997 looking for Aaron’s debut album. Which, considering at the time I was convinced he was my future brother in law, I needed to support the family. Shame really because that album is dreadful, as were most of subsequent albums to be honest. Who knew Nick would turn out to be the most normal of that family? Lately, although Aaron continues to release music (which isn’t that bad to be fair) he seems more concerned with being controversial on social media, playing with guns and getting his face tattooed. Its all very sad really.
Eagle Eye Cherry
Baby brother of absolute legend Neneh Cherry, it looked like Eagle Eye was going to be the next big thing in the mid nineties and his debut single Save Tonight was a massive hit. A particular favourite of mine for containing the line ‘take this wine and drink with me, let’s delay our misery’ which is a metaphor for my life if ever there was one. His debut album Desireless performed well, and despite me being convinced he released a single of the same name, turns out he didn’t, which is a shame because it’s a great song. Perhaps I bought the album? I genuinely can’t remember. Anyway he appeared on The Voice of Romania in 2012 (as a guest not a contestant) and released his 5th album in 2018.
Only just scraping in to the 90s but what an entrance. I’ll be the first admit I got it wrong with Marshall when he released My Name Is which I thought was on the novelty side of quirky so would probably just end up being a one hit wonder. How. Wrong. Was. I. 8 Mile is still one of my favourite films to this day and despite him saying himself that Relapse in 2009 was a duffer, it’s actually one of my fave albums of his. But I’ve always been awkward haven’t I?
You’d be forgiven for thinking Hadaway was a Geordie (cant think of his name without adding ‘& shite’ at the end) but alas no, he be dutch, and remembered mostly for his single What Is Love. He did however follow it up with a rather nice ballad called I Miss You, which was a favourite at middle school discos I seem to remember. What Is Love has re-entered the charts a few times that is to various remixes but the last piece of work of note was a single he released in 2012 with the Mad Stuntman (off of Reel2Reel). What a powerhouse.
You know what I love? Someone who can laugh at themselves and honour where they come from. How sick of The One & Only do you reckon Chesney is by now? Yet he continues to perform it up and down the country to drunk freshers. He also follows me on twitter and just seems like a thoroughly nice chap.
Meagan would kill me for not including her main man Enrique in this list. Dubbed the King of Latin Pop, he first came on my radar when he released Bailamos in 1999. The album that appeared on (imaginatively titled Enrique) had a lovely cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Sad Eyes. He’s seamlessly made the transition from latin pop to mainstream pop, whilst still keeping those Spanish guitars prominent on most of his tracks. He also makes a disgustingly good couple with Anna Kournikova, whose twins must be the most beautiful children on earth.
I’m going to keep this one brief because I don’t have time or space to go into this hot potato here. I grew up loving Michael, him and Madonna were my first loves and musically he went from strength to strength. I think the game got the better of him in the end, to the extent that we wasn’t even a person, or at least treated like one when he died. You can read my full thoughts about him here. Needless to say, a great shame the way things turned out.
Pitched as a one man Take That, he was *the* pin up in the mid 90s and had a few decent enough songs (MFEO anyone?) But it was relatively short lived even in pop terms and he was dropped in 1999. We went on to appear in various reality tv singing competitions and various touring productions. And he joined ‘supergroup’ (and I use that term loosely) 5th story for the Big Reunion in 2013 where he acted like a complete bellend.
Arguably the most talented member of Boyzone, it was inevitable that Ronan would go solo one day and to the untrained ear, you wouldnt necessarily know what was a Boyzone and what was a Ronan Keating track. Ballad after ballad followed, mixed with of course mini-bop Life is a Rollercoaster and exactly the same song under a different name ‘loving each day’. For me it was the murderous cover of Weve Got Tonight with Lulu that was the final nail in the coffin. Dreadful.
Boyband members never learn the meaning of synergy do they? Not content with the world of reality TV that lay ahead, Jordan Knight decided to go all urban in 1999 by releasing the lyrically filthy Give it to You where he dance around in woolly jumper that frankly looked too warm for the conditions. Thankfully NKOTB got back together and realised a really good album in 2008 and toured with the Backstreet Boys in 2012. That’s better isnt it?
Little known fact; Lenny Kravitz actually started as a producer for Madonna before becoming a singer/songwriter/actor/leather trouser wearing sexgod. Debut single Let Love Rule was released in 1989 but it was sultry ballad It Aint Over Til It’s Over that won me over I was obsessed with that song in the early 90s. Other popular bops obviously include Are You Gonna Go My Way, and Fly Away and make for an impressive back catalogue. He moved into acting and gave a great performance in one of my favourite movies Precious. He currently working on a new album and soundtrack
Became popular for 5 minutes during the reggae resurgence of the mid 90s (see also Shaggy below) His biggest (and some would argue only) hit in the UK was a very summery version of Sweets for my Sweet, A song I loved so much I bought a reggae compilation album just so I could have it on CD. Never let it be said that my pocket money was wasted His second single Everything is Alright (Uptight) got to number 10 in the UK charts, but I didn’t feel the need to buy that one. He released a song called R to the A in 2008 but not much can be found on him since then. Wherever he is, i just hope he’s happy.
The first of our soap stars turned singers to make the list (and the best in my opinion). I loved Sean Maguire in Grange Hill and then again in Eastenders so when he became a singer it was like all my teenage dreams came true. He released two (yes two!) albums in 1994 and 1996, the second of which was slightly better in my humble opinion. He then turned his back on music in favour of acting and my loss was Americas gain as he’s now a pretty successful sitcom actor over there and appeared in Once Upon a Time as Robin Hood.
I will fight anyone, anyone who describes MC Hammer as a one hit wonder. His first album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em was never far from my 3 disc CD changer in the 90s. Obviously there was U Can’t Touch this – tune. But also Pray, Have You Seen Her and 2 Legit 2 Quit were absolute bangers in their own right. I am also very partial to Addams Groove, which he released for the Addams Family movie in 1991. He soon dropped the MC from his name and simply became known as Hammer, got a little bit too flashy, spend all his money on some golden plated gates for his mansions and was broke by 1996. Everyone loves a comeback kid though and he continues to be a prominent figure in pop culture; acting, releasing music and living in a massive ranch in California. Gold plated gates unconfirmed.
Emmerdale and Coronation Street actor Matthew Marsden is the second soap star pop star to make the list and i’ll be honest he only really makes the list because be managed to blag Destiny’s Child on his second single She’s Gone, which is quite a coup. Never has there been such an unlikely duet since Jay-Z appeared on an Another Level single. That only reached number 24 in the charts though so, guessing his musical career probably wasn’t going to get much better than having sang with actual Beyonce, he went back to acting and was last seen in Transformers; Revenge of the Fallen
Where would latin pop be without Ricky Martin? Although he was well known in the states as part of boyband Menudo, it was first single Livin La Vida Loca released in 1999 which sent him stratospheric. Heavy latin hit after heavy latin hit proceeded (Shake Your Bon Bon anyone?). He joined The Voice Australia in 2013 and appeared in The Assassination of Gianni Versace in 2018 (in which he was very, very good!). He married Jwan Yosef in 2018 and they live in LA with their two kids – awww
I feel like Moby got a bit of a bad rep, mostly because of Eminem taking the piss out of him But anytime i’d seen him interviewed, he always came across as a funny, down to earth, able to laugh at himself kind of guy. Despite having released chilled out dance music for the majority of the 90s, it was 1999 album Play which really catapulted him into superstardom and it remains the biggest selling electronica album of all time. He is of course is still producing music and more recently has move into TV work appearing in an episode of the Twin Peaks reboot and Blunt Talk with Patrick Stewart.
So many good singles, so full of potential, such an idiot. I was a massive Mark Morrison fan when he first came out and his first album was everything Peter Andre wishes he was. Crazy, a much better single than Return of the Mack in my humble opinion is on my running playlist to this day. He released an EP in 2014 which was well received and a nod to his early 90s musical style. Sadly, Mark seemed unable to keep his nose clean, and after being arrested for trying to take a gun on a plane, and then again arrested for affray, he also hired a lookalike to do his community service while he swanned off on tour – for which he was jailed for a year. What a tit.
Aww little Mark Owen going out on his own. Bless. I’ll hand on heart say I wasn’t massively keen on his solo stuff, despite him being my favourite TT member by a mile. He clearly wanted to break away from his squeaky clean boyband imagine and with the release of Green Man, came a more rockier, indie sound, which in all honesty just didn’t suit him. Clementine was catchy enough and after a stint on one f the early series of Celeb Big Brother in 2002 he released Four Minute Warning – a great song! He finally realised the concept of synergy too and rejoined Take That, where he firmly belongs.
Mostly known for his album and single of the same name Earthbound however it’s just debut single My Father’s Son which takes my preference. Probably a bit before his time considering the charts are awash with male singer/songwriter these days, it’s s shame Conner Reeves wasn’t bigger; good looking, good voice, good songs. More recently he’s moved more into the production side of things writing Britain’s entry into the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007 and producing for Matt Cardle.
Another soap star turned singer. Some may argue over which one was his actual calling in life seeing as he never seemed all that comfortable doing either. He overcame this discomfort by taking his top off at every opportunity and everyone was happy. Breathe Again was a good dance tune (music video aside) and he too joined Big Reunion megagroup 5th Story in 2013. He always seemed like a nice lad though.
Another singer who holds a dear soft spot in my heart, mainly because he’s just so bloody talented. Killer with Adamski? Bop. Crazy? Bop. Kiss From a Rose? Cheesy bop. Fly Like and Eagle? Space Jam bop. My personal favourite Seal bop though? Don’t Cry, which is just so understated and beautifully sang it’s possibly in my top 10 favourite songs of all time, by anyone. He’s released 10 studio albums to date, the most recent being in 2017. I absolutely loved him and Heidi Klum as a couple so was gutted when they split up in 2012 but appear to remain good friends, which proves what a jolly nice chap he is.
American John Paul Larkin was born with a severe stutter and so decided to use that to his advantage with his music. Most known in the UK for Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop) which reached number 3 in the UK charts. He released 2 further albums in 1996 and 1999 but sadly passed away in 1999 after collapsing on stage after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Widely considered a one hit wonder however is one of those artists that’s actually had a very long and successful career, despite only famously being known for one song. Just Another Day is a long standing family favourite of ours. Jon Secada has released 14 studio albums and 37 singles in his long career, a lot of those in Spanish and has written and recorded with the likes of Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez. He’s also Howie from the Backstreet Boys’ favourite artists. Which makes his two grammys pale into insignificance in my eyes.
Shaggy seems to be one if those people who releases a decent album every 15 years or so then disappears for a bit. Oh Carolina came out when there was LOADS of reggae inspired tunes around, then later in the early 2000s was It Wasnt Me (although I suspect it was really) . He opened for the Backstreet Boys on their Black & Blue tour in 2001 (what a show that would have been!) And he continues to be a massive in Jamaica. Last year he released an album with Sting. Random.
Very much the American Kenny Thomas. Or the poor man’s Michael Bolton. One of my guilty pleasures was Curtis Stigers’ debut album which I had from the ‘tape man’ (knock off albums sold outside the grainger market – 1 for £3, 2 for a fiver). He was the precursor to all the mid tempo boyband dross that was to come in th later 90s. He concentrates more on jazz these days but also wrote 2 songs for the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack, which is pretty cool.
Very much the british Curtis Stigers, or a very poor mans Michael Bolton. People who like this kind of stuff find that this is the kind of stuff that they like. He’s now the lead singer for 80s snoozefest Living in a Box. Saying that, Thinking About Your Love is an earworm though. You’re singing it now arent you? Yeah you are, and you love it.
For some of my thoughts on Mr Williams i refer you to Gary Barlow above. However, you can’t deny that the guy knows how to write a decent pop song, especially when he writes with Guy Chambers. Including his work with Take That, and as a featured artist, he’s released 59 singles, 59! My favourite era probably settles with the Sing When You’re Winning/Escapology albums, which probably contain my favourite songs of his; Supreme and Sexed Up respectively. Gary graciously allowed him back into Take That in 2010 for an album and a tour but he went back on his own and released a very average Christmas album last year.
I’m amazed that Usher isn’t actually in his 50s by now since he seems to have been around for ages. He was only 16 when he released his big first single; r’n’b bop You Make Me Wanna in 1997 so that kind of explains it. He went into the whole teen movie thing for a bit in the late 90s, appearing in The Faculty, She’s All That and Light it Up, all of which are worth a watch if you catch them on a Sunday afternoon on ITV2. Musically he just gets better and better for me and three of his singles; Yeah, OMG and Love in this Club are ranked in the Billboard Hot 100 digital sales of all time. although he did inflict Justin Bieber on the world, which makes him lose a few points.
If my surname was Van Winkle I’d call myself something else entirely too, and I can say that because I don’t have the best maiden name in the world! Anyway, who doesn’t love Ice Ice Baby? It’s one of my go to karaoke songs and I like to believe inspired Eminem. I also quite liked his version of Play That Funky Music too which I think appeared in a Ninja Turtles movie if I’m not mistaken. Ice has since to be back with a brand new invention since the 90s though and this is pretty much all he’s known for.