Larry Martino

Larry Martino

Larry Martino

90s Music Videos: we explore the first 8 to make the 1 billion views club on YouTube. Photo of a young, dark-haired woman in her twenties, watching a music video on her smart phone. She is wearing head phones and leaning on a glass-topped desk. There is a cup of coffee on the table to her left. She is in a darkened room.

I recently posted an article listing the first eight music videos from the 1980’s to surpass 1 billion views on YouTube. You can check it out by clicking here. Now, 96.3 KKLZ takes a look at the first great eight 90s music videos to join the “1 Billion Views Club.”

How Did The Short Form Music Video Become So Popular

By and large, I guess if you were to chart the history of the short form music video, The Beatles were the first to create one. They would make short films for their singles during the late 60s after they stopped touring. I remember seeing a few of them on the old Ed Sullivan Show. Click here to see their promotional film/video for “Paperback Writer.”

In the 1970’s, Queen amazed the rockin’ music world with their innovative video for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” After the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody became a box office smash in 2018-2019, the song became the most streamed tune from the 20th century. You can see Queen’s promotional video by clicking here.

However, the short form music video really became established during the 1980s with the advent of MTV. In order to have a hit single or album, record labels started putting money into creating music videos as promotional tools. Eventually, it became the standard process for promoting all singles and popular recording artists.

A Rockin’ Theme To The First Eight 90s Music Videos In “The Club”

Indeed, the first eight music videos from the 1980’s to join the “1 Billion Views Club” included songs by pop music acts. Artists such as Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, A-ha and Rick Astley are in “the club.” However, there’s really only one huge pop star in the list for the 1990’s, and that’s Whitney Houston.

All of the other acts are either hard rockin’ bands, grunge, or alternative rock groups. Surprisingly, no “boy bands” have surpassed 1 billion views with their music videos. No New Kids, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, or ‘N Sync. Furthermore, no videos from Madonna, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, or Janet Jackson. Those female recording stars were all over the radio during the 90s.

So, which 90s music videos are currently in the “1 Billion Views Club?” Take a look and rock out!

  • 1) "November Rain" - Guns N' Roses

    This is the first music video from the 90s to surpass 1 billion views on YouTube; July 2019. Guns N’ Roses also has one of the first eight music videos of the 1980’s in the 1 billion views club; “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” This L.A. based band released the power ballad “November Rain” in early 1992. It’s from their third studio album Use Your Illusion I. The single reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending a total of 30 weeks on that pop chart. Lead singer Axl Rose’s girlfriend at the time, Stephanie Seymour, plays his bride in the music video. It’s one of the most expensive music videos of all time…and now, one of the greatest.

  • 2) "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana

    The second music video from the rockin’ 1990’s which entered the 1 billion views club, Christmas Day 2019. This grunge, or alternative rock band, featured charismatic lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain. Sadly, he committed suicide just a couple of years after this song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1992. In 2001, VH-1 ranked “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the fourth greatest music video of all time.

  • 3) "Zombie" - The Cranberries

    The Irish alternative rock band, The Cranberries, released this protest song in 1994. It was written by the group’s lead singer, Dolores O’Riordan, about the troubles in Northern Ireland. The song hit #1 in countries such as Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Iceland. Here in the U.S.A. it never charted on the Hot 100 pop chart, but it did reach the top of the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart. “Zombie” joined the 1 billion views club in April 2020.

  • 4) "I Will Always Love You" - Whitney Houston

    Here’s the best selling single of all time by a female artist. Whitney Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard Original Soundtrack Album, has now sold more than 22 million copies world-wide. Pretty incredible. It was the best-selling single in the world in 1992. The song hit #1 on the pop charts in just about every nation on the planet. Here in the U.S.A., it spent a record-setting 14 consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It joined the 1 billion views club in October 2020.

  • 5) "What's Up?" - 4 Non Blondes

    This alternative rock band from the San Francisco area scored their biggest hit of all time in 1994 with “What’s Up?” Lead singer and founder of 4 Non Blondes, Linda Perry, wrote most of the lyrics before the band was formed. In fact, according to, she and her good friend Stephen Jenkins of the band Third Eye Blind used to sing each other their original compositions before either band was formed. He sang her “Semi-Charmed Life,” and she sang him “What’s Up?” Just hangin’ out in a coffee shop singing future hits of the 90s. Great story. The music video joined the 1 billion views club in February 2021.


  • 6) "Nothing Else Matters" - Metallica

    Metallica is one of the great hard rock bands of the 90’s. They released this power ballad in 1992 from their self-titled fifth studio album. “Nothing Else Matters” no longer gets aired on MTV during daytime hours due to the fact that there are nude photos and Playboy pinups taped to the walls in the video. That’s according to This music video joined the 1 billion views club in August 2021.

  • 7) "Thunderstruck" - AC/DC

    Here’s one of my favorite bands of all time. I had the chance to see them in Boston Garden during my senior year in college back in the early 80s. My ears were ringing for two weeks, but it was worth it. I’m also a big hockey fan, and I had season tickets to the old Las Vegas Thunder IHL hockey team games at the Thomas & Mack Center back in the mid-90s. The team would always skate out onto the ice to this song. Always got the crowd fired up. The video was directed by one of the great music video and concert film directors of all time, David Mallet. It joined the 1 billion views club in October 2021.

  • 8) "Losing My Religion" - R.E.M.

    Here’s the most recent entry into the exclusive 1 billion views club on YouTube. R.E.M.’s 1991 single, “Losing My Religion” joined the club in September 2022. This alternative rock band from Athens, Georgia scored their most successful charting single of all time with this song. It peaked at #4 in 1991, and stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 21 weeks. R.E.M. would win two Grammy Awards for this tune; one for Best Short Form Music Video and one for Best Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

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