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10 Lessons Learned From '90s Love Songs

These '90s tunes taught us about love and loss — and scrubs.

Of all the topics that songwriters have been composing since, well, the dawn of time, love and the loss of love reign supreme. In fact, a 2007 study found that of the top Billboard songs between 2002 to 2005 and 1968 to 1971, 60 percent of the songs were about love – and that’s only the ones that made it to the charts here in the United States. Now think about all the obscure indie bands, international musicians, and the thousands and thousands of songs by even prominent artists that just never made it onto the charts... basically, there’s a lot of love being sung about out there and a lot of lessons to be learned from all that singing.

Although there are only so many lessons about love that one can learn before things get repetitive and thousands of songs from the 1990s from which I could have pulled, I narrowed it down to 10 important lessons from ‘90s love songs that I think are worth noting. I did my best to be fairly well-rounded in my genre choices despite the fact that I spent the ‘90s drowning in a sea of grunge music and indie pop.

1. “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star: Unrequited love is the worst.

In 1993, Mazzy Star hit the mainstream with the album So Tonight That I Might See thanks to the single, “Fade Into You.” It was (and is) the anthem for anyone who’s ever been in love with someone who doesn’t love them back, all while wondering just how strange it is that the object of their affection is totally oblivious.

2. “Ex-Factor” by Lauryn Hill: Even if you love someone, sometimes you need to let them go.  

“Ex-Factor” may seem like a breakup song, but it’s also a love song in many ways. It’s a song about an ex and not just the love that once was, but still exists. However, the tragedy in this particular scenario is that these two people are not meant to be together no matter how hard or how many times they try to get it right.

3. “Wonderwall” by Oasis: Sometimes love can actually save you.

While I still don’t know what the hell a “wonderwall” is, I do know that this particular song is about how love can actually save us. Save us from ourselves, save us from people who are wrong for us, and even save us from everything in between.

4. “Everlong” by Foo Fighters: Love feels amazing.

Honestly, this is probably the best love song on this list (and one of the best love song out of the ‘90s). With lyrics like: “And I wonder/If everything could ever feel this real forever/If anything could ever be this good again,” you’re forced to admit that love feels really awesome... when it's going well.

5. “About A Girl” by Nirvana: Love can’t always be roses and sunshine.

Although the lyrics aren't dripping with words of love like some of the songs on this list, “About A Girl,” is a love song that delivers the reality that love and relationships aren’t always easy. But just because that’s the case, it doesn’t you should give up on it.

6. “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston: Love transcends everything.

As much as The Bodyguard was a total disaster, it did give the ‘90s one of it’s greatest love songs. Granted, it’s a cover (the original was by Dolly Parton and way better), but it taught us that even if your bodyguard moves on to a new client, you’re totally going to still love him... because you're "always" going to love him.  

7. “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith: When you’re really in love, sleep is unbearable.

Although I could make an obscure Armageddon movie reference, because that’s from where the song comes, I’m going to skip that and get straight to the point: When you’re in love, you don’t want to sleep because you miss them and “you don’t want to miss a thing.” Anyone who has ever been in life will agrees with this sentiment; anyone who hasn't, will rightly scoff. 

8. “All Is Full of Love” by Bjork: Love can pop up in the most unlikely places.

I love this song. In fact, the whole album, Homogenic, is gorgeous but this song in particular is just stunning. It teaches us that not only is love all around us, but you never know when you’re going to find that great love. Sometime you just need to “twist your head around” and see what else is out there.

9. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor: Love will break you.

Although I was too young to understand what Sinead was saying with her lyrics when I first saw the video for “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1990, in time I realized that it was basically an ode to how devastating love and loss of it can be. Ugh… the pain when that tear falls down her cheek in that video; it's just devastating.

10. “No Scrubs” by TLC: Never give out your love to someone not worthy of you.

So, maybe some people might not consider this one a love song, per se, but you can’t compile a list of songs from the ‘90s and not include TLC, because that would be wrong. Besides, if you don’t think “No Scrubs” isn’t a love song about loving yourself and realizing your worth, then you may have not been listening close enough. What this means is you should probably put it on right now and on repeat for the rest of the day. 

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