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Summary

The year 1991 is the year that grunge music made its popular breakthrough. Nirvana's Nevermind, led by the surprise hit single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", becomes the most popular U.S. album of the year. Followed immediately by other grunge bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and in 1992 by Stone Temple Pilots, grunge dominates the U.S. charts for the next few years. Its success effectively ends pop-oriented, 1980s glam metal groups like Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Poison and Ratt, whose sales and critical viability were beginning to decline for about two years previously. Even so, the rock band Guns N' Roses's popularity flourishes with the release of their albums Use Your Illusion I &Use Your Illusion II, both reaching selling over 10 million copies each. A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory is released this year; it would go on to be considered one of the best hip hop albums of the 1990s. A Tribe Called Quest, along with De La Soul, Dream Warriors, Gang Starr and the Poor Righteous Teachers, help define what comes to be known as alternative rap with important releases this year.

On November 24 Both Kiss drummer Eric Carr and Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died. Mercury was at home in London on November 24, due to AIDS complications. Rumors had been circulating that Mercury had AIDS, but the death comes as a shock to millions of fans and the music industry. The remaining members of Queen form the Mercury Phoenix Trust and the following year, a tribute concert is staged in Wembley Stadium. A sell-out crowd in attendance witness the three surviving members reuniting to play along with performances by the likes of David Bowie, Elton John, Guns N' Roses, Def Leppard, Metallica, Annie Lennox, and George Michael.

Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody goes to number one for the second time, which is the only time a single has gone to number one in the same version more than once. It is also the only time a single has gone to number one more than once on the UK Christmas charts. It has now spent a total of 14 weeks on top of the UK charts.

1991 is also the year CCM, or contemporary Christian music, reaches a new peak. Amy Grant, who had already crossed back and forth between CCM and pop in the mid-80s, achieves her (and CCM's) first #1 hit on the pop charts with the hit single "Baby Baby." Another single, "That's What Love Is For," would also top the charts, this time in the Adult Contemporary field. Meanwhile, Grant's album Heart In Motion reaches #11 on the pop chart and #1 on the Christian chart despite its non-religious objective, and quickly becomes a best-seller. Another CCM crossover artist in 1991 is Michael W. Smith, who achieves a Top Ten pop hit with his single "Place In This World." The subsequent album, Go West Young Man, is also a hit.

The massive success of Garth Brooks in this year sets the stage for the mid-1990s influx of pop-oriented country musicians. In addition, several soon-to-be pivotal bands form or release debuts, including Dave Matthews Band, Live, Phish, Spin Doctors) and stoner metal (Kyuss, Sleep, The Obsessed). Massive Attack's Blue Lines, while unique at the time, invents the sound that would eventually become known as trip hop. Entombed's Clandestine and Dismember's Like an Ever Flowing Stream are early releases from the Scandinavian metal scene. On the other side of the Atlantic, New York death metal band Suffocation release their debut full-length Effigy of the Forgotten, often considered one of the most influential extreme metal albums ever recorded. Trance music rises to prominence in the underground dance scene of Frankfurt, Germany, pioneered by such producers as Dance 2 Trance and Resistance D. U2 release their seventh album Achtung Baby, considered by many of their fans to be their best album. Metallica also release their most commercially successful self-titled album, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers break through to the mainstream with their critically and commercially acclaimed Blood Sugar Sex Magik. R.E.M. release their massive commercial breakthrough album Out of Time.

Timeline

Undated

Bands formed

Bands reformed

Bands disbanded

Albums released

Contents: TopJanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

January

Day Album Artist Notes
1 This Year's Girl Pizzicato Five -
9 The Singles Collection The Specials Compilation
15 A Little Ain't Enough David Lee Roth -
Step in the Arena Gang Starr -
Eight Track Stomp Chickasaw Mudd Puppies -
A Different Kind of Weather Dream Academy US
Fatal Joy 29 Palms (Band) US
22 Chagall Guevara Chagall Guevara -
The Soul Cages Sting -
Cure for Sanity Pop Will Eat Itself - US
25 Into the Light Gloria Estefan -
29 Divinyls Divinyls -
Mo' Ritmo Gerardo Debut
When You're a Boy Susanna Hoffs -
Doubt Jesus Jones -
Uncle Anesthesia Screaming Trees -
East of the Sun, West of the Moon a-ha US
Party Mix/Mesopotamia The B-52's -
Glad 'N Greasy Beat Farmers -
Candy Carol Book of Love -
The Martyr Mantras Boy George US
Tyranny (For You) Front 242 US
Native Son Judybats -
? Babyteeth Therapy? -

February

Day Album Artist Notes
5 Innuendo Queen -
International Pop Overthrow Material Issue -
11 Coolin' at the Playground Ya Know! Another Bad Creation -
12 The Best of A Flock of Seagulls A Flock of Seagulls -
Coming Down Daniel Ash -
MCMXC a.D. Enigma (musical project) US
The Hollow Men The Hollow Men US
Strange Cargo William Orbit US
Greatest Hits 1977-1990 The Stranglers US
19 Green Mind Dinosaur Jr -
Ink The Fixx -
The Name Above the Title John Wesley Harding -
Road Apples Tragically Hip US
20 Pioughd Butthole Surfers -
Last Days of Pompeii Nova Mob -
21 Marc Cohn Marc Cohn -
25 Recurring Spacemen 3 -
26 Hooked Great White -
1916 Motörhead -
? Day 1 Robbie Nevil -
Different World Uriah Heep -

March

Day Album Artist Notes
4 Peggy Suicide Julian Cope UK; May 7 in US; Double Album
The White Room The KLF -
5 Kill Uncle Morrissey -
Heart in Motion Amy Grant -
Dollars & Sex The Escape Club -
Time for a Witness The Feelies -
12 Free Rick Astley -
Mind Funk Mind Funk -
Out of Time R.E.M. -
The Real Ramona Throwing Muses -
Everybody's Angel Tanita Tikaram -
Unreal World The Godfathers US
Outland Gary Numan US
Cereal Killers Too Much Joy -
19 Chill of an Early Fall George Strait -
26 The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 Bob Dylan Box Set
The Human Factor Metal Church -
Lean Into It Mr. Big -
Places I Have Never Been Willie Nile -
Ribbed NOFX -
Vagabond Heart Rod Stewart -
Black and White The BoDeans -
Recurring Spacemen 3 US
No Warning Dave Wakeling US
27 Spiderland Slint -
Good-bye My Loneliness Zard -
28 Joyride Roxette -
 ? Outland Gary Numan -
Extremely Live Vanilla Ice -

April

Day Album Artist Notes
1 School of Fish School of Fish -
2 Arise Sepultura -
Mane Attraction White Lion -
6 Now! That's What I Call Music 19 Various Artists Compilation
8 Flashpoint The Rolling Stones Live
Real Life Simple Minds -
9 L'Autre Mylène Farmer -
The Ghosts That Haunt Me Crash Test Dummies -
15 Brotherhood The Doobie Brothers -
The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld The Orb -
16 Auberge Chris Rea -
Temple of the Dog Temple of the Dog -
The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life Frank Zappa 2 discs; Live
Ripe Banderas US
The Way to Salvation King Missile -
Raintree Crow Raintree Crow US
Real Life Simple Minds US
22 Shift-Work The Fall -
Hoodoo Alison Moyet -
23 Time, Love & Tenderness Michael Bolton -
The Reality of My Surroundings Fishbone -
Ordinary Average Guy Joe Walsh -
And Now the Legacy Begins Dream Warriors US
Flyin' the Flannel Firehose (band) -
Kinky Hoodoo Gurus US
Psychout The Seers -
13 Engines 13 Engines US
27 True Love Pat Benatar -
30 Cooleyhighharmony Boyz II Men -
Spartacus The Farm Debut
Laughter & Lust Joe Jackson -
Why Do Birds Sing? Violent Femmes -
Birdland Birdland US
Fred Schneider Fred Schneider Re-issue

May

Day Album Artist Notes
3 Grippe Jawbox -
7 Star Time James Brown Box Set
5,000,000 Dread Zeppelin -
Hard at Play Huey Lewis and the News -
Peggy Suicide Julian Cope US
The Best of the Waterboys 81–90 The Waterboys US
9 Ex:el 808 State -
13 Pop Life Bananarama UK
De La Soul Is Dead De La Soul -
Positively Phranc Phranc -
14 Spellbound Paula Abdul -
Mighty Like a Rose Elvis Costello -
Schubert Dip EMF -
Don't Rock the Jukebox Alan Jackson -
O.G. Original Gangster Ice T -
Yerself Is Steam Mercury Rev -
Sailing the Seas of Cheese Primus -
17 Whispers Thomas Anders -
21 Pink Bubbles Go Ape Helloween -
Slinky Milltown Brothers US
28 Electronic Electronic -
Niggaz4Life N.W.A. -
Gish The Smashing Pumpkins -
Music From the Movie Jungle Fever Stevie Wonder -
Greatest Hits Eurythmics US
The White Room The KLF US
29 Like an Ever Flowing Stream Dismember -

June

Day Album Artist Notes
4 Funke, Funke Wisdom Kool Moe Dee -
Make a Jazz Noise Here Frank Zappa -
Back on the Bus, Y'all Indigo Girls -
11 Love Hurts Cher -
Unforgettable... with Love Natalie Cole -
Prime of My Life Phyllis Hyman -
Seal Seal -
Slave to the Grind Skid Row -
Superstition Siouxsie and the Banshees -
Space I'm In Candyskins US
Sugar Tax Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark US
The Forest David Byrne -
Dance to the Holy Man The Silencers US
14 Slow, Deep and Hard Type O Negative -
You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 Frank Zappa 2 discs; Live
16 The Globe Big Audio Dynamite II -
18 Derelicts of Dialect 3rd Bass -
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Van Halen -
Turtle Soup Mock Turtles US
24 Holidays in Eden Marillion -
Baby Yello -
25 Attack of the Killer B's Anthrax Rarities album
Whirlpool Chapterhouse -
Hollywood Vampires L.A. Guns -
Luck of the Draw Bonnie Raitt -
All Souled Out Pete Rock & CL Smooth EP
Go Figure Spirit of the West -
? The Tea Party The Tea Party Debut

July

Day Album Artist Notes
1 Butchered at Birth Cannibal Corpse -
This is an EP Release Digital Underground EP
We Can't Be Stopped Geto Boys -
1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours Green Day Compilation
13-Point Program to Destroy America Nation of Ulysses -
Pure Poverty Poor Righteous Teachers -
2 Hey Stoopid Alice Cooper -
A Future Without a Past Leaders of the New School -
God Fodder Ned's Atomic Dustbin -
Into the Great Wide Open Tom Petty -
Woodface Crowded House -
The Ruler's Back Slick Rick -
Trisha Yearwood Trisha Yearwood -
3 Am I Cool or What? Various Artists Soundtrack
5 Blessed Are the Sick Morbid Angel -
9 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: Music from the Motion Picture Various Artists -
Boyz N the Hood soundtrack Various Artists -
Watershed Grant McLennan US
All The Stuff (And More!) Volume 2 Ramones -
Rag and Bone Buffet: Rare Cuts and Leftovers XTC -
James James US
16 Amen Salif Keita -
Biscuits (EP) Living Colour EP
Beat the Boots Frank Zappa Live; Box Set
23 Homebase DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince -
João João Gilberto -
Breaking Atoms Main Source -
Music for the People Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch -
Emotional Hooligan Gary Clail US
Play Squeeze -
Circa Mary's Danish -
30 Widespread Panic Widespread Panic -
World Outside The Psychedelic Furs -
31 Steady Diet of Nothing Fugazi -

August

Day Album Artist Notes
3 To Mother Babes in Toyland EP
5 Brainstorm Young MC -
6 Harem Scarem Harem Scarem -
Blue Lines Massive Attack -
Madra Miranda Sex Garden -
1000 Smiling Knuckles Skin Yard -
Ask the Ages Sonny Sharrock -
Perspex Island Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians -
12 Metallica ("The Black Album") Metallica -
13 Brand New Man Brooks & Dunn Debut
Cypress Hill Cypress Hill -
20 Notorious Joan Jett and the Blackhearts -
Pocket Full of Kryptonite Spin Doctors -
Little Magnets Versus the Bubble of Babble Transvision Vamp -
Honey Lingers Voice of the Beehive US
The Comfort Zone Vanessa L. Williams -
26 Leisure Blur UK
27 Backlash Bad English -
Ten Pearl Jam -
The Prodigal Stranger Procol Harum -
Harmony Ranch Riders in the Sky Live
fear Toad the Wet Sprocket -

September

Day Album Artist Notes
2 Guaranteed Level 42 -
Tin Machine II Tin Machine -
3 Travelers and Thieves Blues Traveler -
Horrorscope Overkill -
Ratt & Roll 81-91 Ratt Greatest Hits
Roll the Bones Rush -
Mistaken Identity Donna Summer -
Naughty by Nature Naughty by Nature -
10 Ropin' the Wind Garth Brooks -
On Every Street Dire Straits -
Catfish Rising Jethro Tull -
Showstoppers Barry Manilow -
Solace Sarah McLachlan -
Blow Up The Smithereens -
Psychotic Supper Tesla -
17 Emotions Mariah Carey -
Use Your Illusion I Guns N' Roses -
Use Your Illusion II Guns N' Roses -
Pretty on the Inside Hole -
No More Tears Ozzy Osbourne -
18 C.M.B. Color Me Badd -
19 Mad Mad World Tom Cochrane Canada; released in US in Feb '92
Live Train to Heartbreak Station Cinderella Live
20 The Pod Ween -
23 Waking Up the Neighbours Bryan Adams Canada; released Sept. 24 in US
Prisoners in Paradise Europe -
Sigh No More Gamma Ray -
Wretch Kyuss -
Shake Me Up Little Feat -
Trompe le Monde Pixies -
24 Nevermind Nirvana -
Blood Sugar Sex Magik Red Hot Chili Peppers -
Ceremony The Cult -
Rock the House Live! Heart Live
Prove You Wrong Prong
Face the Nation Kid 'n Play -
Hymns to the Silence Van Morrison -
The Low End Theory A Tribe Called Quest -
30 Ebbhead Nitzer Ebb -
Stars Simply Red -

October

Day Album Artist Notes
1 The Greatest Hits Cheap Trick Greatest Hits
For My Broken Heart Reba McEntire -
Diamonds and Pearls Prince & the New Power Generation -
Apocalypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Black Public Enemy -
Scamboogery Scatterbrain -
4 Streets: A Rock Opera Savatage -
Miscellaneous T They Might Be Giants B-Sides & Remixes
8 Screamadelica Primal Scream -
Badmotorfinger Soundgarden -
Sports Weekend: As Nasty As They Wanna Be, Pt. 2 2 Live Crew -
Cool as Ice Vanilla Ice -
9 The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move... It's the Infectious Grooves Infectious Grooves -
14 Let's Get to It Kylie Minogue -
15 Vinyl Dramarama -
Chorus Erasure -
As Ugly as They Wanna Be Ugly Kid Joe -
Mr. Bad Example Warren Zevon -
17 The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth Skyclad -
19 Decade of Decadence Mötley Crüe Compilation
22 Human Death -
I Wish My Brother George Was Here Del tha Funkee Homosapien -
Pennywise Pennywise -
Effigy of the Forgotten Suffocation -
Girlfriend Matthew Sweet -
28 Rush Street Richard Marx -
29 Prince of Darkness Big Daddy Kane -
Death Certificate Ice Cube -
30 Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious Carcass -
? Krov za Krov (Blood for Blood) Aria -
For Keeps The Field Mice -
Queer Thompson Twins -

November

Day Album Artist Notes
1 Infrared Roses Grateful Dead Live Compilation
Beauty and the Beast: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Various Artists -
Night of the Stormrider Iced Earth UK
4 Shepherd Moons Enya -
Loveless My Bloody Valentine -
6 Ricky Martin Ricky Martin -
10 Sadisfaction Gregorian -
11 Essential Divinyls Greatest Hits
We Can't Dance Genesis -
Live Baby Live INXS Live
12 80-85 Bad Religion Compilation
Clandestine Entombed -
For the Boys Bette Midler Soundtrack
Swallow This Live Poison 2 discs; Live
2Pacalypse Now 2Pac -
In Celebration of Life Yanni -
19 Beckology Jeff Beck Box Set
Live Happy Mondays Live
Cool Hand Loc Tone Lōc -
The Yngwie Malmsteen Collection Yngwie Malmsteen -
Laughing Stock Talk Talk -
Achtung Baby U2 -
26 Dangerous Michael Jackson -
Keep It Comin' Keith Sweat -
Hook: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack John Williams -
30 Now That's What I Call Music! 20 Various Artists Compilation
? No Jive Nazareth -

December

Day Album Artist Notes
6 Forest of Equilibrium Cathedral -
10 Until the End of the World soundtrack Various Artists -
15 V Legião Urbana -
25 Mō Sagasanai Zard -
? Spine of God Monster Magnet -

Release Date Unknown

Biggest hit singles

The following songs achieved the highest chart positions in the charts of 1991.

# Artist Title Year Country Chart Entries
1 Bryan Adams (Everything I Do) I Do it For You 1991 Canada UK 1 - Jun 1991, US BB 1 of 1991, US CashBox 1 of 1991, Holland 1 - Jul 1991, Sweden 1 - Aug 1991, Austria 1 - Aug 1991, Switzerland 1 - Jul 1991, Norway 1 - Jul 1991, Poland 1 - Jul 1991, Germany 1 - Jan 1992, Éire 1 - Jul 1991, New Zealand 1 for 8 weeks Aug 1991, Australia 1 for 11 weeks Oct 1991, US BB 3 of 1991, Australia 3 of 1991, POP 3 of 1991, Europe 5 of the 1990s, TOTP 6, Global 7 (10 M sold) - 1991, Italy 9 of 1991, Germany 9 of the 1990s, Scrobulate 30 of ballad, Virgin 60, Party 70 of 2007, RYM 73 of 1991, Poland 96 of all time, OzNet 121, Belgium 150 of all time
2 Michael Jackson Black Or White 1991 United States UK 1 - Nov 1991, US BB 1 of 1991, Sweden 1 - Nov 1991, Switzerland 1 - Nov 1991, Norway 1 - Nov 1991, Poland 1 - Nov 1991, Éire 1 - Nov 1991, New Zealand 1 for 8 weeks Nov 1991, Australia 1 for 8 weeks Feb 1992, Austria 2 - Nov 1991, Germany 2 - Jan 1992, Holland 3 - Nov 1991, Italy 3 of 1991, US BB 19 of 1991, POP 19 of 1991, Australia 24 of 1992, US CashBox 29 of 1992, RYM 96 of 1991, Germany 115 of the 1990s
3 Roxette Joyride 1991 Sweden US BB 1 of 1991, Holland 1 - Mar 1991, Sweden 1 - Mar 1991, Austria 1 - Mar 1991, Switzerland 1 - Mar 1991, Norway 1 - Mar 1991, Germany 1 - Mar 1991, Australia 1 for 3 weeks Jul 1991, Poland 3 - Apr 1991, UK 4 - Mar 1991, France 7 - Apr 1991, Australia 13 of 1991, Italy 24 of 1991, Germany 24 of the 1990s, US CashBox 33 of 1991, US BB 35 of 1991, POP 37 of 1991
4 Scorpions Wind of Change 1991 Germany Holland 1 - Apr 1991, Sweden 1 - Mar 1991, Austria 1 - Jun 1991, Switzerland 1 - Feb 1991, Norway 1 - Apr 1991, Poland 1 - Mar 1991, Germany 1 of the 1990s, Germany 1 - Apr 1991, UK 2 - Sep 1991, US BB 4 of 1991, Scrobulate 9 of ballad, France 10 - Dec 1990, US BB 24 of 1991, Europe 26 of the 1990s, POP 26 of 1991, RYM 142 of 1990
5 R.E.M. Losing My Religion 1991 United States Holland 1 - Mar 1991, Poland 1 - Apr 1991, Europe 1 of the 1990s, US BB 4 of 1991, Norway 4 - Jun 1991, Sweden 5 - Mar 1991, RYM 5 of 1991, Austria 7 - Aug 1991, Switzerland 11 - Oct 1991, Belgium 12 of all time, UK 19 - Mar 1991, US BB 28 of 1991, Virgin 30, US CashBox 39 of 1991, 39 in 2FM list, Poland 44 of all time, Acclaimed 44, POP 61 of 1991, Scrobulate 69 of rock, Italy 70 of 1991, OzNet 90, WXPN 106, RIAA 143, Rolling Stone 169

Top hits

See also: Hot 100 No. 1 Hits of 1991

Published popular music

Classical music

Opera

Musical theater

Musical films

Births

Deaths

Awards

References


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