This week during 1990 marked a new high for female musicians everywhere, as all five of the top songs on the Hot 100 were performed by women. That sounds impressive but female performers have been getting their due even more so in recent years: During 2014, the Top 5 of the Hot 100 was held down by women for seven consecutive weeks. Music Times figured it'd be fun to compare the hits of yesteryear to today, having the Top 5 from this week during 1990 face off with September of 2014...Madonna, Taylor Swift, Janet Jackson, Nicki Minaj and more.
Our Top 5 from 2014 represents the week of September 20, 2014.
05) "Alright" by Janet Jackson VS. "Black Widow" by Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora
If this were an actual showdown, you know that Rita Ora would be sweating bullets. Janet Jackson may not have been her brother Michael, but she was about as close as it got when it came to R&B/pop showmanship. We're not trying to put down Ora as a representative, nor are we even going to put down Iggy Azalea as a representative of hip-hop (the trendy thing to do). But there's really not much comparison here, and "Alright" isn't even one of Jackson's best songs from the era...it just happened to land at no. 5 during this week in history. Azalea was still riding high off of "Fancy," her hit with Charli XCX (that would go one to be the year's second largest single overall), and that was the primary driver of sales to "Black Widow." No way does Azalea reach the levels of success she's found if this was her summer single instead.
04) "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips VS. "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj
The one advantage that 2014 has in this competition is that we haven't had 25 years to see how those songs will age. "Bang Bang" seems to make perfect sense as a pop banger right now, but who knows what it will sound like to your correspondent circa 2040? That fact is a killer for "Hold On," the single that would eventually go to no. 1 for Wilson Phillips, a band that would release three no. 1 singles off of its self-titled debut and then not much else for years to come. "Hold On" feels dated...more like something that would have been acceptable during the '80s, but not the grunge-era '90s. That group faces another trio, as Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj posted perhaps the biggest collaboration of 2014 with "Bang Bang," a single that would eventually end up of Jessie's album.
03) "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor VS. "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj
If this were an actual showdown, the beating that Nicki Minaj is about to take would be justifiable, as she's still tired from her appearance on "Bang Bang" above and, if anything, the rapper deserves kudos for appearing on two tracks in the Top 5 simultaneously. That said, let's compare her solo single "Anaconda" with Sinéad O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U." One's music video drew attention for the performer's relatively naked head. The other broke VEVO records because of the performer's relatively naked butt. One was written by Prince (yeah, that Prince). The other lists Sir Mix-a-Lot as a songwriter because it samples his "Baby Got Back." One ("Anaconda") did not top the singles charts in any nation. The other topped the singles charts in like EVERY nation, or at least in every major music market in North America, Europe and Australia.
02) "All I Wanna Do I Make Love To You" by Heart VS. "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift
There is an interesting parallel between this 1990 hit from band Heart (sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson being its constant members) and Taylor Swift's mega-hit from last year: Both saw the respective acts formally ditching the sound they'd become known for in order to join pop music. The difference is that with Swift the transition had been long: Red was far more pop than country, and country diehards had been calling her pop all along. It just took until "Shake It Off" for her to admit it. Heart however had its most success as a rock act, penning timeless tunes such as "Barracuda" and "Crazy On You," standing as icons for women everywhere who wanted to shred. "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" kinda flies in the face of all that. Heart didn't make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for songs like this. At least Swift disappointed no one with her hit.
01) "Vogue" by Madonna VS. "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor
Competition has been tight so far, with both years taking two of the battles thus far. Unfortunately for Meghan Trainor, 1990 certainly saved its star performer for no. 1 this week. Madonna was the biggest woman in entertainment during the '80s and she was still carrying the crown at this point...and she earned it. If Dick Tracy had one highlight, it was the inclusion of "Vogue" as the single for the film's soundtrack. The world agreed, and the song would become the biggest selling single of 1990. Trainor deserves all the credit in the world for her debut single-"All About That Bass" is clever and sassy-but that doesn't mean it's ready to rumble with Madonna at her best.