These pop singles should've ruled the charts in the 90s -- or at least dented the Top 50, but for whatever reasons did not. But charts be damned, I'll love them forever. This list continues alphabetically where Part 1 left off.
If some of these are unfamiliar, take a listen -- they might just change your life for the better as they did mine twenty some years ago...
Love - The Dream Academy (1990) The last gasp of the chamber pop ensemble that created 1986's gorgeous Life In A Northern Town, was an equally gorgeous (never charted) John Lennon cover that unfolds with the echoes of whales and blossoms to a rousing climax with Indian chanting and percussion.
Love Me The Right Way - Kym Mazelle with Rapination (1993) House music anthem led by Mazelle's huge gospel-trained voice brought joy to club goers worldwide, and could've easily sat pretty in the Top 10 alongside kindred hits by Crystal Waters and Ce Ce Peniston, but never scraped the US Hot 100.
Lying - Sam Phillips (1991) A true original singer/songwriter, Sam Phillips' left an impressive string of literate, complex albums in her 1990s and 2000's musical wake. Simmering with melodic hooks and emotional depth, the wonderful Lying was about as close as Sam came to an actual hit single, and that is to (unfortunately) say, not very close.
Maria - Blondie (1999) Blondie dissolved in 1982 at the height of their game with everyone from Madonna to Garbage reaping what Deborah Harry originally sowed. So the return of Blondie was understandably big news in 1999 -- why then did their radiant comeback single falter at #82 in the U.S.? At least in the U.K., Maria did walk "on imported air," soaring to #1 exactly two decades after Heart of Glass.
Miss Chatelaine - k.d. lang (1992) The lush, rousing follow-up single to lang's sole smash hit Constant Craving was a fan favorite, and the glammed-up video a VH1 hit, with everyone from club kids to my grandparents loving it -- and to my surprise never dented the Hot 100.
Nick of Time - Bonnie Raitt (1990) Hard to believe the hit title track (for which Raitt won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) to the Grammy winning Album of the Year only made it to #91 -- a tuneful, bitterweet glimpse about aging, and finding real love before life's hourglass runs out.
Not Too Soon - Throwing Muses (1991) Densely textured and deliriously poppy, this alterna-jewel stood zero chance of citizenship in Casey Kasem's countdown, but stands tall in my book as one of the decade's hidden treasures.
On Point - House of Pain (1994) This rowdy testosterone fueled blast deserved to be House of Pain's second substantial hit, but after flickering briefly at #85, proved to be their final chart single.
Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage (1995) It's mindboggling that Shirley Manson's love letter to rain, darkness and misery only reached #55 as this was one of the decade's signature radio singles. Further digging led me to discover that two other popular Garbage classics: Push It and Special, only peaked at #52. What gives??
The Only One I Know - The Charlatans (1990) With rollicking organ, and briskly paced guitar riffs, The Charlatans' debut single achieved both a fresh sound for a new decade while offering a tasty throwback to The Doors and the first British invasion. Never charted on the Hot 100.
Possession - Sarah McLachlan (1994) Surprisingly, one of MacLachlan's finest musical moments, and most played singles, only peaked at #73.
Ready Or Not - The Fugees (1996) Featuring one of the most unexpected samples in hip hop (Enya's spooky, ethereal Boadicea) The Fugees' took this great track all the way to #1 in the U.K., #3 in Sweden, but only #63 in America -- and in a year where they ruled radio in the U.S. (???)
Rockefeller Skank - Fatboy Slim (1998) Fatboy Slim never saw a profit from this kickass audio collage because all the money went to the artists he sampled including Just Brothers, Bobby Fuller, John Barry and Art of Noise -- and it continues to live on and on -- despite its baffling peak at #76.
Say Goodbye - Merrie Amsterburg (1997) Richly crafted, lost classic about the death of a beloved -- Say Goodbye should've won Grammies, massive airplay and charted somewhere -- but the pearl in Boston-based singer/songwriter Merrie Amsterburg's small but wonderful discography remains largely unheard. Pop, rock or country artists take note -- cover this properly, and you have a #1 hit on your hands.
So Hard - Pet Shop Boys (1990) From their masterful Behaviour album, this moody, pulsating examination of a relationship fractured with suspicion ("We've both given up smoking/cause its fatal/so whose matches are those?") peaked at #62. Extra points given to PSB for using old model synthesizers that sounded better than ever.
Sour Times - Portishead (1995) Noir-ish masterpiece that received massive airplay in the mid-late 90s, making its #53 peak all the more mysterious.
Sun's Gonna Rise - Sass Jordan (1994) Proof you can rock, tell a compelling love story, be touching and memorable in two minutes and 55 seconds. Sass showed her 90s competition (Alanis, Sheryl, etc) how it's done. Too bad US radio ignored one of the decade's best singles and it wilted unjustly at #85. Ripe for covering.
Teardrop - Massive Attack with Liz Frazier (1998) With lyrics by Cocteau Twins' Liz Frazier about her pal Jeff Buckley's tragic drowning, this magnificent trip hop tone poem went Top 10 in England. And though it never charted stateside, Teardrop achieved an afterlife as a favorite cover (Ed Sheeran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Simple Minds, Jose Gonzales, and more) as well as being adopted as the theme song for the TV series, House.
Time For Me To Come Down - Amy Rigby (1996) This spectacular lost gem is Exhibit A as to why singer/songwriter Rigby was voted Spin's 1996 Songwriter of the Year. Though few remember this never-charted single, Time For Me To Come Down remains one of the decade's best pop songs.
Today - Smashing Pumpkins (1993) Few realized this seemingly upbeat song was packed with lyrics about depression, desperation, self mutilation and suicidal thoughts. One of the defining songs of its time, Today launched the band into stratospheric success yet only peaked at #103. Roughly 100 notches too low if you ask me.
Tyrone - Erykah Badu (1997) In the pantheon of ballsy tell-off singles (and recorded live to boot!), Tyrone is a neo-soul You're No Good. It blazed its way to top of the R&B charts, yet only made it to #62 on the Hot 100.
Where It's At - Beck (1995) The first single from Beck's landmark Odelay album was this uber-funky pastiche featuring a passage from an obscure 1970s sex education album titled Sex For Teens: Where It's At. Missing the Top 50 in the U.S (peaked at #61), Where It's At made the Top 50 in Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand, Sweden, and earned Beck the Grammy Award for Best Rock Male Vocal Performance.
For more on rock singles that nearly became hits, check out my Huffington Post companion piece on 1980s music: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/entertainment-features/