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A Definitive Ranking of Every Song That Reached No1 In Ireland In The 1990s*

*Well, almost every song.

Spice Girls in Cannes 2 Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

AH, THE 1990S.

The decade of grunge, Britpop, girl power and Riverdance.

Here in Ireland, over 150 songs reached number one in the top 40. And let’s just say some of the songs that reached number oneare more a bit surprising.

But what was the worst and what was the best? Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: some songs that reached number one were discounted from this ranking because they were either reissues of old songs (see: Bohemian Rhapsody) or they couldn’t be found on YouTube.  And no, Macarena didn’t reach number one. Soz.

140. Babylon Zoo - Spaceman

babylon Source: Michael Urbaniak/YouTube

Here, when was the last time you listened to Spaceman in its entirety? Because, contrary to what you may think, it’s not just that chipmunk “Spaceman, I always wanted you to go” intro.

What follows is actually four minutes of unbearable noise that’s not fun, even in an ironic way. What were we thinking?

139. Chef – Chocolate Salty Balls If you bought this, you should be ashamed of yourself.

138. Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers - That Sounds Good To Me WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?

137. Jason Donovan – Any Dream Will Do Did your Ma buy 10,000 copies or how in God’s name did this reach number one?

136. The Outhere Brothers – Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle) A lesser Boom Boom Boom :(

135. Celine Dion – Think Twice Celine at her Celine-iest.

134. Richie Kavanagh – Aon Focail Eile 

kavanagh Source: YouTube

*throws filthy look at lad who still thinks Aon Focail Eile is gas and puts it on at every session*

133. Guns N’ Roses – Don’t Cry Turgid.

132. Take That – Babe *snores*

131. Bryan Adams – Please Forgive Me *deep sleep*

130. Simply Red – Fairground *wakes up with a start, runs to radio to turn this off*

129. Fool’s Garden – Lemon Tree Not a patch on Dustin’s Christmas version, tbh.

128. Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

sunscreen Source: YouTube

The musical equivalent of those irritating “Dance like nobody’s watching!” memes you see on Instagram.

Sure, the sentiments are nice.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth

But it’s also for saps, sorry.

127. Mariah Carey – Without You Unless you’re in the throes of a terrible break-up, there’s no reason to revisit this. (Listen to Heartbreaker instead.)

126. Enigma – Sadeness LOL, this is basically dance music for monks.

125. Boyzone – Key To My Life The lads were kind of phoning it in here.

124. The Simpsons – Deep Deep Trouble Lacks the pizazz of Do The Bartman if we’re being honest.

123. Right Said Fred – Deeply Dippy 

rightsaidfred Source: YouTube

We’ll say this for Dipply Dippy: it has a very triumphant brass section and would work perfectly in a supermarket ad touting “Great bargains for Mums!”

It’s essentially the most harmless song ever, but also very little craic.


122. Guns N’ Roses – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door No disrespect, Ireland, but we had bad taste in music.

121. Rod Stewart – Rhythm of My Heart Like, so bad.

120. Bryan Adams, Sting and Rod Stewart – All For Love Awful, even. 

119. Bon Jovi – Always It’s like our ears were conditioned to only like ballads sung by growly men. 

118. Def Leppard – When Love & Hate Collide Glad we’re out of period, Ireland. *wipes brow*

117. Oasis – D’You Know What I Mean? As vague/generic as the title suggests.

116. Shaggy – Oh Carolina Strangely catchy, but an objectively bad song nonetheless.

115. The Tony Rich Project – Nobody Knows 

rich Source: YouTube

In 1996, Richie Kavanagh spent 7 weeks at the top of the Irish charts with Aon Focail Eile, so you would be forgiven for thinking we only liked (a) cursing and (b) being gas.

But you would be wrong because just weeks later, The Tony Rich Project reached number one with his smooth ballad Nobody Knows. See? Irish people can be gas and sensual.

The video features Tony Rich in the bubble bath and in some ways this song *is* kind of like a bubble bath. Kind of sensuous relaxing at the beginning, but then it kind of drags and you just want to get out of there.

114. The Steve Miller Band – The Joker Nope, nope, nope.

113. Aqua – Barbie Girl In theory, Barbie Girl good nostalgic fun. In practice, it’s actually just kind of irritating and quickly loses its charm.

112. Wet Wet Wet – Goodnight Girl There’s a reason why Goodnight Girl hasn’t endured in the same way as Love Is All Around.

111. Westlife – I Have A Dream If this song was one of your dreams, it would be one of those really forgettable ones where you’re just at work having a normal day or whatever ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

110.  U2 – Discotheque It loses marks for the video featuring a close-up of Bono thrusting.

109. Sash! – Encore Une Fois It’s fine and all, but there are just so many superior bangers.

108. Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli – Time To Say Goodbye 

Source: Giancarlo Oliva/YouTube

Once upon a time, Time To Say Goodbye might have been what your Mam termed “a lovely song”.

But over time, its legacy has been tarnished by its overuse at funerals and panpipers insisting on playing it on Grafton Street. (Seriously, isn’t it time you learned a new song, lads?)

Also imagine this getting to number one now.

107. The Saw Doctors – Hay Wrap Mostly because it’s impressive that a song with the chorus “BALE OF, BALE OF/HAY, HAY” reached number one.

106. Aerosmith – I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing Another one for the “whining men” pile.

105. Watch Your House – Ooh Aah Paul McGrath This doesn’t quite hold up, but it is worth listening to just for the little rap in the middle.

104. The Wild Swans – Dancin’ At The Crossroads Ah sure, look.

103. Blur – Country House We love you, Blur, but we can’t support Country House.

102. 2 Unlimited – No Limit A scaldy tune, but a tune nonetheless.

101. No Mercy – Where Do You Go Solid. Very solid.

100. Boyzone – Every Day I Love You Admittely not their finest, but we’ll allow it. 

99. Take That – How Deep Is Your Love 


Okay, so it’s a meh boyband cover.

But the video is legitimately insane. Here’s the story: a devious woman ties the lads up in chairs and keeps them hostage before killing Gary Barlow. Please watch it this instant.

98. Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia Be honest, have you ever been like “You know what I’d love to listen to now? Streets of Philadelphia.”

97. U2 – Stay Next.

96. U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me Intense. 

95. U2 – Mysterious Ways How does she move! Tell us!

94. East 17 – It’s Alright “This song is more than alright — it’s BLOODY CLASS!” – you, in the 1990s.

93. Kerri Ann – Irreplaceable As 90s as baby blue eyeshadow and she’s Irish. <3 

92. Shakespear’s Sister – Stay “Staaaaaaay with me” – you, to your dog.

91. Jimmy Nail – Ain’t No Doubt 

Let us just take a moment to reflect on the video for Ain’t No Doubt.

Just people punching the air to Jimmy Nail.


I imagine this is what it was like when Prohibition ended.


All the while, this gal knits.


Ah, the 1990s.

90. Macy Gray – I Try *clears throat*

89. Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone Not a bad song, but you’d skip it on a 1990s playlist, wouldn’t you?

88. Boyzone – So Good Ah yes, the Boyzone we know and love.

87. Aqua – Doctor Jones Controversial opinion: Doctor Jones > Barbie Girl

86. U2 – The Fly If only for Bono’s sunglasses.

85. Mick Lally – The Bye-Road To Glenroe Aw Miley <3

84. Cher – The Shoop Shoop Song Nothing short of a delight.

83. Zig and Zag – Christmas No. 1 Every Irish child’s Christmas soundtrack.

82. Ronan Keating – When You Say Nothing At All THE SCHMILE ON YOUR FACHE

81. Meat Loaf – I’d Do Anything For Love What? WHAT won’t you do? Just tell us!

80. Zig and Zag – Zig Zaggin’ Around The World

zig Source: Shane OB/YouTube


The good old days.

79. Westlife – Swear It Again *reluctantly sings along because you somehow know every single word*

78. Boyzone – Father and Son Who else remembers getting weirdly emotional listening to this as a child? Nobody? Moving swiftly on…

77. Tamsin Archer – Sleeping Satellite “I blame you for the moonlit sky…” *waves hands in mystical manner*

76. Puff Daddy – I’ll Be Missing You

whiteclothes Source: YouTube

Puff Daddy’s ode to Notorious BIG was totes emosh and turned what was a creepy song (“I’ll Be Missing You” by The Police”) into a rather lovely ballad.

Rappers have feelings, too.


75. Niamh Kavanagh – In Your Eyes The sort of song that you could imagine Bridget Jones running through the rain to. (In other words: cha-hoon.)

74. Kris Kross – Jump Not played in clubs often enough nowadays.

73. New Kids on the Block – Hang Tough For those of us who liked our boy bands with attitude *sunglasses emoji*

72. Boyzone – Words Did we mention that Boyzone had so many number ones? 

71. Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven Here, who’s chopping onions?

70. Elton John – Candle in the Wind The second best-selling single of all-time, which surely counts for something.

69. Hanson – Mmm Bop Still total ear candy.

68. Various Artists – Perfect Day


Technically, this is just a very bad cover version of an otherwise good song. But it does feature Gabrielle, Heather Small and Shane McGowan, making it the most 1990s thing ever, so…

67. The Saw Doctors – I Useta Love Her Sure look.

66. The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode Fun fact: this song was used on Reeling in the Years to accompany a segment about ecstasy gaining popularity. So now. 

65. The Simpsons – Do The Bartman ”Everybody, if you can, do the Bartman” *starts dancing subconsciously* 

64. Boys II Men – End of the Road Dem harmonies, though.

63. Bryan Adams – Everything I Do (I Do It For You) Slightly better than other “whiney male ballads”. But only just.


61. Robbie Williams – Millennium


Angels never reached number one, but Millennium did.

Do with that information what you will. (Also remember the gold tinsel curtains from the video? We won’t lie, we still dream of walking through them.)

60.Westlife – If I Let You Go Look, we liked it when we were 9.

59. Spice Girls – 2 Become 1 Get a little bit closer, baby.

58. Linda Martin – Why Me? Linda’s Eurovision dress surely ranks among the Top 5 Most Fab Get-Ups Ever.

57. Scatman – I’m A Scatman There are Irish lads who “don’t like to dance” but will happily bust a move to this nonsense. This one’s for them.

56. Dustin – Spanish Lady Hands up who had a Dustin cassette in their house. *everyone in Ireland raises their hands*

55. Dustin – 32 Counties #COYBIG

54. Dustin and Joe Dolan – Good Looking Woman “Daddy, what were the 1990s like?” “Well, a turkey puppet and Joe Dolan once reached number one, so.”

53. Dustin & Bob Geldof – Rat Trap The dream team.

52. The Fugees – Killing Me Softly ALL HAIL QUEEN LAURYN.

51. Culture Beat – Mr Vain 


Call me insane, call me Mr. Vain.

50. DJ Jazzy Jeff – Boom! Shake The Room A bona fide party classic.

49. Westlife – Flying Without Wings Almost sounds like something you could sing in Mass, but we still love it.

48. The Prodigy – Breathe  Feel like the intro to this probably strikes the fear of God into priests.

47. Snow – Informer When was the last time you listened to Informer? It’s severely underrated, we promise.

46. The Tamperer – Feel It Heard your uncle hurt his knee dancing to this at your cousin’s wedding.

45. Run DMC – It’s Like That Hard to listen to this and not harbour dreams of becoming a break dancer. 

44. 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up Up there with Zombie as the ultimate melodramatic singalong number. “I said hey! What’s going on?”

43. The Offspring – Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) Still feel bad for the lad who asked for a 13, but got a 31. 

42. OMC – How Bizarre It’s like someone packaged the joy of having a pint in the sun and put it into a song. The best. 

41. Ricky Martin – Livin’ La Vida Loca Ireland really loved its Latin-infused pop back in the 1990s, didn’t we? 

40. No Doubt – Don’t Speak Oh God, how bloody deadly is Gwen Stefani, though? 

39. Right Said Fred – I’m Too Sexy 

38. U2 – Sweetest Thing

sweetst Source: U2VEVo/YouTube

Sweetest Thing has everything — a catchy chorus, celebrity cameos, Dublin, Bono looking contrite. Sure, it’s a bit slight when compared to some other U2 songs, but we’re still quite partial to it.

37. Monty Python – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life Philosophical, silly and cheerful. What’s not to love?

36. The B52s – Love Shack Still don’t know why there was glitter on the mattress and glitter on the highway, but who cares? *throws shapes*

35. Snap! – Rhythm Is A Dancer They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

34. Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much

33. Spice Girls – Who Do You Think You Are


Crimped hair. Leopard print. Dresses that are perilously short. Easy-to-follow dance instructions. (“Swing it, shake it, move it, make it”)

Who Do You Think You Are? embodies everything the 1990s was about.

32. Lou Bega – Mambo No. 5 Hands up if you weren’t secretly a bit annoyed at your name not featuring in Mambo No. 5. Like, who is named Rita in this day and age?

31. Will Smith  - Men in Black God be with the days when people like Will Smith could rap about defeating aliens and it would reach number one.

30. Pras – Ghetto Superstar *BLASTS IN THE TAXI ON A NIGHT OUT*

29. Boyzone – Love Me For A Reason One of Boyzone’s most iconic songs and it comes with a message: don’t love for fun, love for a reason. 

28. The Outhere Brothers – Boom Boom Boom You definitely danced to this at your 21st.

27. Shaggy – Boombastic An incredible music feat from start to finish.

26. R. Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly *wipes tear from eye, feels inspired*

25. Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee) The haunting story of a little guy who lives in a blue world. (Da ba dee, da ba dii)

24. Perez Prado – Guaglione 

Source: Stavros M/YouTube

We’re not necessarily saying that this is a good song, but you have to love the fact that an old Italian mambo got to number one in the 1990s purely because it was featured in a Guinness ad. (Just for nostalgia’s sake, here’s that ad.)

Oh, Ireland.

23. Chumbawumba – Tubthumping The musical equivalent of a pint of cheap lager, but it’s so silly that we love it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

22. Oasis – Don’t Look Back in Anger *spills pint everywhere ’cause we’re singing this so passionatly*

21. ATB – 9PM (Till I Come) We most certainly did not set this as our ringtone, no way.

20. TLC – No Scrubs FYI: A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly and is also known as a buster.

19. Cher – Believe (a) Banger, pure and simple. (b) Remember the feather headpiece Cher wore in the video?

18. Pet Shop Boys – Go West Even if it always makes us think of Ambrosia custard.

17. Michael Jackson – Black or White Sure, the video might feature some dodgy racial representations in hindsight, but that guitar solo.

16. Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby 

So iconic that even An Garda Siochana referenced it once.


15. Whigfield – Saturday Night Still the ultimate “having a can of cider and drying my hair before going out” song.

14. Boyzone – No Matter What If only for the way Ronan Keating says “HOWEVER THEY ATTACK” with such conviction.

13. Coolio – Gangsta’s Paradise You’re not human if you haven’t passionately rapped this at 1.30am some morning.

12. Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On DON’T LET GO, JACK.

11. East 17 – Stay Another Day

Want to know what romance looks like?

This is what it looks like.

east18 Source: RHINO/YouTube


10. Haddaway – What Is Love  What is love? 22 years later and we’re still none the wiser.

9. Take That – Back For Good “GOT A FIST OF PURE EMOTION”  *bursts into tears*

8. Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U Sinead, you beaut.

7. U2 – One Who among us hasn’t found ourselves screaming “Love is a temple” at some point?

6. B*Witched – C’est La Vie

bwitched Source: BwtichedVEVO/YouTube

For convincing a whole generation of Irish teens that double denim was an acceptable look and introducing Irish sass (“Get a loife”) to the rest of the world.

5. Britney Spears - Baby One More Time A banger in every way. (Even if watching the video makes us feel a bit creepy now.)

4. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You Still being sung into deodorant cans and hairbrushes 23 years later. *beat* AND IIIIIIII-EEE-IIIIIIII

3. Spice Girls – Wannabe Maybe the most 90s song of all. Iconic.

2. Bill Whelan – Riverdance It spent 18 weeks at number one in Ireland, so it’s fair to say we all have a soft spot for it. 

1. Put ‘Em Under Pressure 


Few things fill Irish people with as much pride and warmth as Put Em Under Pressure and for that reason we’re crowning it the best number one of the 1990s. We challenge you to listen to it and not feel like Ireland is the best country in the whole damned world.

Olé, olé, olé.


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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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