My favorite songs of 1989

In 1989 I was 15 years old and still into rap music. My favorite band was the Beastie Boys but I also loved Public Enemy. However, in 1990 I started to love The Tragically Hip and the other members of our high school’s “Big 3”: The Cult and Lenny Kravitz. The transition from rap to rock was a smooth one, as for a good year or two I loved both music types. I even made mixed tapes that rotated – one rock song, one rap song.

Weird, right?

So while 1989 was a year in which I didn’t yet know the Hip, Cult, or Kravitz as well as I would later – it is a year in which a lot of their great songs were released. So they appear on this list. But I did know the Beasties, and Paul’s Boutique was an immediate favorite.

In terms of the sheer number of good songs and great songs released, 1989 turned out to be my second favorite year behind 1994.

’89 was the year in which James Brown was sentenced to six years in jail (related to a police chase through two states), and Rolling Stones’ bassist Bill Wyman, who somehow got away with dating a 13-year-old girl, married her when she was 18 years of age. How did society let this happen without batting an eye? This was also the year where the Catholic Church was up in arms over Madonna’s video “Like a Prayer” and Pepsi dropped her as a spokesperson. So…they whine about the burning cross imagery, but say nothing about a 47-year-old dating a 13-year-old. Gotta love religion.

Unlike most rankings, I haven’t been simply tossing these up in a numerical order. Because I know better than anybody that on some days, some songs kick more ass than other songs. A song that is ranked 14th today could very well rank 1st tomorrow, if it suddenly comes on the radio during the perfect moment and I start singing along. You understand. So I group them instead of presenting a hard-and-fast order:

Awesome
Great
Solid
Not Bad
…with inter-group splitting.

First, some videos of the best from that year…

35. Great Songs from 1989

Pictures of Matchstick Men – Camper Van Beethoven

Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)  – Soul II Soul

Rooms On Fire  – Stevie Nicks

Shadrach – Beastie Boys

I was a huge Beasties fan in their days and absolutely loved Paul’s Boutique when it came out. And so did my circle of friends. Recently, I discovered that this album actually bombed (per their 2019 documentary) and only later gained the acclaim it deserved. Well, I loved it right from the get-go.

Runnin’ Down A Dream  – Tom Petty

Fire Woman – The Cult

Fight the Power – Public Enemy

Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos  – Public Enemy

One of the most underrated rap songs in history. Chuck D a true master of his craft.

I Wish It Would Rain Down  – Phil Collins

When the Weight Comes Down – The Tragically Hip

38 Years Old  – The Tragically Hip

Head Like A Hole  – Nine Inch Nails

Girl You Know It’s True  – Milli Vanilli

Don’t get me started on these guys and the Grammys…

Blame It On The Rain  – Milli Vanilli

I mean…I really loved this album back when I was 15 and 16. The songs were super-catchy. And to have four songs that are this good coming from the same album – and a debut album no less – deserves a ton of credit. Just don’t get me started on the Grammys…

Baby Don’t Forget My Number  – Milli Vanilli

Alright, fine. I’ll go there. So the duo were lip-syncing the music. They were the faces in front of the singing. Who cares? I think they embarrassed the experts by pulling the wool over their eyes for so long, that the industry leaders shot back by revoking their Grammy wins. Crybabies! The Grammy was won by the singers that sang the songs on this album. So sure, take the award from the lip-sync frontmen… but give it to the actual vocalists! Why should they be punished? They sang great tunes! Makes no sense to me and it smacks of Big Wigs who were ‘slighted’ and ’embarrassed’ and had to power-trip their way back to respectability.

Don’t Know Much  – Linda Ronstadt

Alright, we’re gonna slow things down…

Freedom Train – Lenny Kravitz

One of my favorite albums of all time is Let Love Rule. In fact, gun to my head, I’d put this one second behind… (see below)…

Hard Sun – Indio

Alright, I admit I like this one better after Eddie Vedder did his version. But the point is – I do like it better now…

Volare – Gipsy Kings

Sweet Jane – Cowboy Junkies

Beautiful, haunting cover a Lou Reed classic…

The Sounds of Science – Beastie Boys

Johnny Ryall  – Beastie Boys

Love In An Elevator  – Aerosmith

Janie’s Got A Gun  – Aerosmith

3-Minute Rule – Beastie Boys

High Plains Drifter – Beastie Boys

I’m On My Way – The Proclaimers

The Way You Do The Things You Do – UB40

I Won’t Back Down  – Tom Petty

In this video, Ringo Starr plays the drums and Jeff Lynne (ELO) and George Harrison are the backups/guitars.

Free Fallin’  – Tom Petty

Sweet Soul Sister – The Cult

Listen To Your Heart  – Roxette

About A Girl  – Nirvana

This song was popularized after it was the first song on the MTV Unplugged album. But it was released on their first album Bleach, the version I use here. The album cost about $600 to produce. They got the title from a public service campaign in San Francisco that urged intravenous drug users to “Bleach Your Works,” meaning to clean their needles with bleach so they would not spread the AIDS virus. At one point, Cobain wanted to call the album “Too Many Humans.”

Blues for Sister Someone – Lenny Kravitz

All the Things I Wasn’t – Grapes of Wrath

I’m just sorry that music fans in the United States don’t know this band.

13 Truly Awesome Songs released in 1989

Opiated – The Tragically Hip

Second behind… this one. (Just finishing off the above statement about Let Love Rule). This Hip album, their first full album after their self-titled EP, was called Up To Here. Top to bottom it is a fantastic rock album and it is my favorite of all time – and has been since I bought it.

Trickle Down – The Tragically Hip

I Build This Garden for Us – Lenny Kravitz

Baby Have Some Faith – 54-40

My favorite song by the Canadian band 54-40

Boots or Hearts – The Tragically Hip

Blow at High Dough – The Tragically Hip

Girl I’m Gonna Miss You – Milli Vanilli

Don’t even get me started on- wait, I did that joke already. One of the best slow songs out there. And the singers get no credit for this?

Rosemary – Lenny Kravitz

Does Anybody Out There Even Care – Lenny Kravitz

Let Love Rule  – Lenny Kravitz

Epic  – Faith No More

What It Takes  – Aerosmith

New Orleans Is Sinking – The Tragically Hip

The above songs are put together in a YouTube playlist that you can find here.

Follow me on Spotify here, and check out some of my playlists…

Here is my full list of quality songs released in 1989

Awesome – 1What It Takes Aerosmith
Awesome – 1Epic Faith No More
Awesome – 1Let Love Rule Lenny Kravitz
Awesome – 1Does Anybody Out There Even CareLenny Kravitz
Awesome – 1RosemaryLenny Kravitz
Awesome – 1Girl I’m Gonna Miss YouMilli Vanilli
Awesome – 1Blow at High DoughThe Tragically Hip
Awesome – 1New Orleans Is SinkingThe Tragically Hip
Awesome – 1Boots or HeartsThe Tragically Hip
Awesome – 1Baby Have Some Faith54-40
Awesome – 11I Build This Garden for UsLenny Kravitz
Awesome – 11Trickle DownThe Tragically Hip
Awesome – 11OpiatedThe Tragically Hip
Great – 14All the Things I Wasn’tGrapes of Wrath
Great – 14Blues for Sister SomeoneLenny Kravitz
Great – 14About A Girl Nirvana
Great – 14Listen To Your Heart Roxette
Great – 14Sweet Soul SisterThe Cult
Great – 14Free Fallin’ Tom Petty
Great – 14I Won’t Back Down Tom Petty
Great – 14The Way You Do The Things You DoUB40
Great – 14I’m On My WayThe Proclaimers
Great – 14High Plains DrifterBeastie Boys
Great – 143-Minute RuleBeastie Boys
Great – 14Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos Public Enemy
Great – 26Janie’s Got A Gun Aerosmith
Great – 26Love In An Elevator Aerosmith
Great – 26Johnny Ryall Beastie Boys
Great – 26The Sounds of ScienceBeastie Boys
Great – 26Sweet JaneCowboy Junkies
Great – 26VolareGipsy Kings
Great – 26Hard SunIndio
Great – 26Freedom TrainLenny Kravitz
Great – 26Don’t Know Much Linda Ronstadt
Great – 26Baby Don’t Forget My Number Milli Vanilli
Great – 26Blame It On The Rain Milli Vanilli
Great – 26Girl You Know It’s True Milli Vanilli
Great – 26Head Like A Hole Nine Inch Nails
Great – 2638 Years Old The Tragically Hip
Great – 26When the Weight Comes DownThe Tragically Hip
Great – 26I Wish It Would Rain Down Phil Collins
Great – 26Fight The Power Public Enemy
Great – 26Fire Woman The Cult
Great – 26Runnin’ Down A Dream Tom Petty
Great – 26ShadrachBeastie Boys
Great – 26Rooms On Fire Stevie Nicks
Great – 26Back To Life (However Do You Want Me) Soul II Soul
Great- 26Pictures Of Matchstick MenCamper Van Beethoven
Solid – 49It’s Funky EnoughThe D.O.C.
Solid – 49Egg Man Beastie Boys
Solid – 49Hey Ladies Beastie Boys
Solid – 48Looking Down the Barrel of a GunBeastie Boys
Solid – 48Shake Your RumpBeastie Boys
Solid – 48Misguided AngelCowboy Junkies
Solid – 48Buddy De La Soul
Solid – 48The Heart Of The Matter Don Henley
Solid – 48Good Thing Fine Young Cannibals
Solid – 48She Drives Me Crazy Fine Young Cannibals
Solid – 48Mr. Cab Driver Lenny Kravitz
Solid – 48Sittin’ on Top of the WorldLenny Kravitz
Solid – 48Like A Prayer Madonna
Solid – 48Rockin’ In The Free World Neil Young
Solid – 48Another MidnightThe Tragically Hip
Solid – 48Batdance Prince
Solid – 48I Want It All Queen
Solid – 48Higher Ground Red Hot Chili Peppers
Solid – 48Good TimesTom Cochrane
Solid – 48Black Velvet Alannah Myles
Solid – 48Poison Alice Cooper
Solid – 48Car ThiefBeastie Boys
Solid – 48What Comes AroundBeastie Boys
Solid – 48We Didn’t Start The Fire Billy Joel
Solid – 48Just A Friend Biz Markie
Solid – 48Rockland WonderlandKim Mitchell
Solid – 48Empty HandsLenny Kravitz
Solid – 48I’ll Believe in You (Or I’ll Be Leaving You)The Tragically Hip
Solid – 48She Didn’t KnowThe Tragically Hip
Solid – 48Everytime You GoThe Tragically Hip
Solid – 48Here Comes Your Man Pixies
Solid – 48Night of the Living BaseheadsPublic Enemy
Solid – 48Get Up R.E.M.
Solid – 48Big LeagueTom Cochrane
Solid – 48Principal’s Office Young MC
Solid – 48SmokeCrash Vegas
Solid – 49B-Boy BouillabaisseBeastie Boys
Solid – 49Toy Soldiers Martika
Solid – 49One Bee Gees
Solid – 49Move ThisTechnotronic
Solid – 89When I’m With YouSheriff
Solid – 89Miss You54-40
Solid – 89Love IsAlannah Myles
Solid – 89Why’d You LieColin James
Solid – 89The End Of The Innocence Don Henley
Solid – 89Sacrifice Elton John
Solid – 89Still Lovin’ YouHoneymoon Suite
Solid – 89Rock’n Roll DutyKim Mitchell
Solid – 89Express Yourself Madonna
Solid – 89Dr. Feelgood Mötley Crüe
Solid – 89Kickstart My Heart Mötley Crüe
Solid – 89Another Day in Paradise Phil Collins
Solid – 89Bring the NoisePublic Enemy
Solid – 89Don’t Believe the HypePublic Enemy
Solid – 89She’s So YoungPursuit of Happiness
Solid – 89Sowing the Seeds of Love Tears for Fears
Solid – 89The Best Tina Turner
Solid – 89Victory DayTom Cochrane
Solid – 89Heaven Warrant
Solid – 89Bust A Move Young MC
Solid – 89So AliveLove and Rockets
Solid – 89Love Shack The B-52s
Solid – 89Keep on Movin’ Soul II Soul
Solid – 89Love Song Tesla
Solid – 89Terrible Lie Nine Inch Nails
Solid – 89Last Worthless EveningDon Henley
Solid – 89Once Bitten Twice ShyGreat White
Not Bad – 116Me Myself And I De La Soul
Not Bad – 116New York Minute Don Henley
Not Bad – 116Trista PenaGipsy Kings
Not Bad – 116Everlasting Love Howard Jones
Not Bad – 116Fear Lenny Kravitz
Not Bad – 116Buffalo Stance Neneh Cherry
Not Bad – 116Right Here Waiting Richard Marx
Not Bad – 11618 And Life Skid Row
Not Bad – 116Pump Up The Jam Technotronic
Not Bad – 116Edie (Ciao Baby) The Cult
Not Bad – 116When I See You Smile Bad English
Not Bad – 116How LongBlue Rodeo
Not Bad – 116Wicked Game Chris Isaak
Not Bad – 116Eye Know De La Soul
Not Bad – 116Say No Go De La Soul
Not Bad – 116The Magic Number De La Soul
Not Bad – 116Rhythm Nation Janet Jackson
Not Bad – 116I Beg Your Pardon Kon Kan
Not Bad – 116My Precious LoveLenny Kravitz
Not Bad – 116Oh, Father Madonna
Not Bad – 116Something Happened On The Way To Heaven Phil Collins
Not Bad – 116Monkey Gone To Heaven Pixies
Not Bad – 116So HardSass Jordan
Not Bad – 116I Remember YouSkid Row
Not Bad – 116Lovesong The Cure
Not Bad – 116Dressed For Success Roxette
Not Bad – 116If You Don’t Know Me By NowSimply Red
Not Bad – 116I Go to ExtremesBilly Joel
Not Bad – 116EscapadeJanet Jackson
Not Bad – 145Me So Horny The 2 Live Crew
Not Bad – 145On Our Own Bobby Brown
Not Bad – 145Born to Be My Baby Bon Jovi
Not Bad – 145If a Tree FallsBruce Cockburn
Not Bad – 145If I Could Turn Back Time Cher
Not Bad – 145Cherish Madonna
Not Bad – 145How Am I Supposed to Live Without You Michael Bolton
Not Bad – 145When I’m Back On My Feet Again Michael Bolton
Not Bad – 145Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) Mötley Crüe
Not Bad – 145Hangin’ Tough New Kids on the Block
Not Bad – 145My Brave Face Paul McCartney
Not Bad – 145You Got It Roy Orbison
Not Bad – 145Woman In Chains Tears for Fears
Not Bad – 145American Horse The Cult
Not Bad – 145Almost Hear You Sigh The Rolling Stones
Not Bad – 145A Girl Like You The Smithereens
Not Bad – 145SatisfiedRichard Marx
Not Bad – 145Miss You MuchJanet Jackson
Not Bad – 145The DoctorThe Doobie Brothers
Not Bad – 145Pop SingerJohn Mellencamp
Not Bad – 145No MythMichael Penn
Not Bad – 145Show Don’t TellRush
Not Bad – 145Down BoysWarrant
Not Bad – 145I Drove All NightCyndi Lauper
Not Bad – 145Mixed EmotionsThe Rolling Stones
Not Bad – 145Waiting For A Star To FallBoy Meets Girl
Not Bad – 145Soldier of LoveDonny Osmond
Not Bad – 145My Heart Can’t Tell Me NoRod Stewart
Not Bad – 145Rock Wit’chaBobby Brown
Not Bad – 145Ladies FirstQueen Latifah

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