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Music

1994 Chart Flashback: Reviewing tracks by Prince, Madonna, more

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Peter Still/Redferns; Dave Benett/Getty Images

A version of this story appears in the May 19 issue of Entertainment Weekly, available to buy here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Twenty-three years ago, Ace of Base bested R. Kelly’s grind, Madonna and Mariah cried, and Crash Test Dummies crash-hummed the Hot 100. Check out our reviews of the top 10 tracks from one May 1994 week below.

1. “The Sign,” Ace of Base

The sublime sound of four gorgeous, inscrutable Swedes who saw something — pentagram? Illuminati eye? The ankh on that velvet choker you got for Christmas from Spencer Gifts? — and decided that today was clearly the day to dump you. A+

2. “Bump N’ Grind,” R. Kelly

With hindsight, Kelly’s new-jack swaggy pledge to follow his pelvis wherever it led suddenly tilts a lot less “delightfully sex-positive” and a lot more “highly admissable in court.” B

3. “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” Prince

Hush, girl, don’t U be stressing the unpronounceable glyph; the Artist Temporarily Known as Not Prince is just trying 2 tell U how pretty U R. A-

4. “I’ll Remember (From ‘With Honors’),” Madonna

Nothing says “Please stop talking about my Sex book” like an earnest, ethereal movie ballad about Harvard student Brendan Fraser bonding with dying hobo Joe Pesci. B+

5. “Return to Innocence,” Enigma

A German-Romanian producer, an indigenous Taiwanese chant recorded in a French culture center, a song that will haunt your yoga teacher for the next 9,000 years. A

6. “Baby, I Love Your Way,” Big Mountain

The one thing about Reality Bites that actually bites: this ersatz Sandals-resort-reggae cover of a 1975 Pete Frampton jam that doesn’t even deserve to speak Winona’s name. C+

7. “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm,” Crash Test Dummies

Hot tip: When you are being quizzed about ’90s one-hit wonders, don’t shout out “Macarena” or “Cotton Eye Joe” when they ask which one had six sing-talking verses about a girl with birthmarks all over her body. B-

8. “I Swear,” All-4-One

A pledge of fidelity so deathless that it topped the Hot 100 for 11 weeks, won a Best Pop Vocal Grammy, and outlasted approximately 67 percent of the marriages it four-part-harmonized down the aisle. I swear. B+

9. “Without You/Never Forget You,” Mariah Carey

Remember cassingles? It was like getting two songs for the price of one! Or in this case, a piano-bar take on a 1970 soft-rock masterpiece plus a middling Babyface ballad. B-

10. “I’m Ready,” Tevin Campbell

Tevin’s tender, tinkly ode to forever love went up against “Bump N’ Grind” for the No. 1 R&B chart spot four straight weeks and lost — which just seems mean, like sending a baby rabbit on a blind date with a python. B