The '90s will never die.
In many ways, this year they feel more alive than they have in any other. Radiohead cut a new album. Garbage, the Stone Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have all announced albums. Vanilla Ice, Coolio and Salt-N-Pepa are traveling around the country together on the aptly named "I Love the '90s" tour. Members of NSYNC and Backstreet Boys are starring in a feature film. And of course, the '90s nostalgia content keeps rolling out on Tumblr, Twitter and publications across the world wide web.
However, the artists that people generally discuss most on these nostalgia platforms — artists like Britney Spears, NSYNC and TLC — aren't necessesarily the ones people listen to most today. To decide who the most relevant '90s artists actually are, we looked into listening habits by state and by genre, with help from Spotify.
The results are surprisingly monochromatic. It's really a toss up between two power players: the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Notorious B.I.G.
The methodology: Sifting though Spotify's databases, we pulled the listener and streaming counts of all the albums released between 1990 and 1999 and totaled the results by artist. We ranked those artists by their total listener counts, which Spotify considers to be a more accurate representation of an artist's reach and popularity. The Red Hot Chili Peppers was the most popular '90s artist in the most states by far — winning a whole 36. The Notorious B.I.G. took nine, mostly in the northeast. Nirvana took four, while the stonerrific Sublime got Hawaii. The runner-up in each of those states is one of the other three.
The results should come as good news for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who announced their first album in five years and shared its first single "Dark Necessities" on May 5, and for the Notorious B.I.G.'s estate, which has a posthumous duets album with his widow Faith Evans coming this September.
Breaking down the biggest '90s artists by genre offers a similar, but more comprehensive, look at our favorite artists. It also puts to rest one of the most divisive debates in '90s R&B — Destiny's Child or TLC — and a similarly contentious one in '90s hip-hop — Nas or Jay Z?
The nation has spoken with its playlists: TLC takes the crown in R&B. Even though Jay later tried to write-off Nas' career as a "one-hot-album-every-10-year average," Nas' work in the '90s has had more staying power than Jay's.