In typical NME fashion, the magazine has caught on to ’90s nostalgia a few years after the rest of the music media and released its list of the top 100 songs of the decade. Aside from a few unmistakably British flourishes (Pulp’s “Common People” edging Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” out of the #1 spot, McAlmont & Butler’s “Yes” in the top 10), there are few surprises. No one can deny the excellence of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” or Daft Punk’s “Da Funk,” but we’re getting sick of seeing the same songs honored over and over when there are so many other equally great tracks to celebrate. We’ve done just that below, rounding up a handful of criminally underrated ’90s songs that you may have forgotten over the years. Since there are literally thousands of tracks that also deserve a place on this list, we hope you’ll add your suggestions in the comments.
Radiohead — “Black Star”
NME certainly didn’t forget about the most important British band of the ’90s — Radiohead has no fewer than three songs on the list. But none of them are from The Bends, the 1995 album that bridged Pablo Honey‘s grunge bandwagon-jumping with the epic, era-defining technology neurosis of OK Computer. This is a mistake, because that record contains some of the band’s loveliest and most emotionally rich, if not musically groundbreaking, work. “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Just,” and “High and Dry” would all be irreproachable additions to the list, but the apocalyptic break-up song “Black Star” is the one with the greatest tendency to sneak up and devastate us. You might think you’re unsentimental enough to resist lyrics like, “I get on the train and I just stand about now that I don’t think of you,” until that power chorus and those chiming guitars kick in, priming anyone with half a soul for a momentary breakdown.