We have now reviewed each of the singles that reached No. 1 in 1997, a year that started and ended with hits by British artists Spice Girls and Elton John, was generally dominated by Puff Daddy’s production influence, was curiously peppered with a brief Hanson infestation, and remains to this day a year whose chart history is riddled with asterisks due to Billboard’s dumb policy of disqualifying airplay-only singles at the time. Were it not for those rules, which finally were updated in 1998, we’d probably have dedicated posts to songs such as “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt, “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin, “Men In Black” by Will Smith f/ Dru Hill, and “Fly” by Sugar Ray. Oh well.
Beyond the chart-toppers, 1997 was a year that generated a couple mega-hits with tremendous longevity that have ended up being ranked high on Billboard’s list of the top singles from the ’90s despite stalling on the magazine’s weekly chart at No. 2. These include LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live,” which came it at No. 1 for the decade, and Jewel’s Double A-sided “Foolish Games” / “You Were Meant For Me,” which came in at No. 4.
Beyond the hits, the year saw an eclectic mix of free-spirited, Alternative-influenced releases find an audience and break onto Pop radio. These include “#1 Crush” by Garbage, “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers, “The Freshmen” by The Verve Pipe, “Push” by Matchbox 20, and “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. Women with songwriting and instrument-playing talents also had a breakthrough year on radio and via the Lilith Fair Tour, including Sarah McLachlan, Tracy Chapman, Sheryl Crow, Fiona Apple, Joan Osborne, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega. And it was a smashing year for R&B, with Dru Hill, Changing Faces and Usher among the acts dominating urban radio.
Here’s a playlist of our 10 favorite songs of that year, followed by the list:
- “Your Woman,” White Town
- “Do You Know (What It Takes),” Robyn
- “Don’t Let Go (Love),” En Vogue
- “4 Seasons Of Loneliness,” Boyz II Men
- “If You Could Only See,” Tonic
- “I Believe In You And Me,” Whitney Houston
- “Sunny Came Home,” Shawn Colvin
- “Lovefool,” The Cardigans
- “Naked Eye,” Luscious Jackson
- “Novocaine For The Soul,” Eels