Think back to 1996. What were you doing then, 20 years ago? What music was popular back then? What films were reigning supreme at the box office? What was the top news stories happening at that time? These type of questions is what this weekly series will provide to you. We will display the top 10 music and film charts. We will also provide the television ratings from this time period, as well as video game releases. Lastly, we will provide a list of the top news events occurring throughout the week as well as links to stories from this time period. Although many who grew up around this time feel as if the 90s just passed “10 years ago” as many state, the world at that time was such a different place. So much has changed in all aspects of our life.

2Pac Featuring KC and Jojo – How Do U Want It/California Love
Toni Braxton – You’re Makin’ Me High / Let it Flow
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Tha Crossroads
Tracy Chapman – Give Me One Reason
Los Del Rio – Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)
Celine Dion – Because You Loved Me
Mariah Carey – Always Be My Baby
Keith Sweat – Twisted
Quad City DJ’s – C’mon N’ Ride It
Monica – Why I Love You So Much / Ain’t Nobody

The first thing that sticks out is 2Pac atop this list. Arguably one of the most influential rappers of all time, 2Pac defined 90s rap. This week he was leading the charts with hit song California Love, a California anthem that continues on to this day.

Also on the list is hit song the Macarena. The song was #1 on Billboards top 100 songs list of 1996. Although, performers Los Del Rio are considered one-hit wonders, admit it, all of us have at one point in time have tried and performed the macarena dance.

While Mariah Carey’s song We Belong Together stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, she reigned at #1 for a total of 13 weeks with her other release that year One Sweet Day. We Belong Together hit double platinum in the US as well. The song was also #5 on Billboard’s top 100 songs of 1996.

Independence Day – $35,242,709 (WG) – $160,312,716 (ODG)
Phenomenon – $12,975,141 – $46,333,342
Courage Under Fire – $12,501,586 – $12,501,586
The Nutty Professor – $12,207,690 – $80,222,245
Harriet the Spy – $6,601,651 – $6,601,651
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – $6,425,235 – $76,974,024
Eraser – $6,307,035 – $80,871,220
The Rock – $4,383,051 – $117,437,539
Striptease – $3,016,200 – $27,856,305
Twister – $1,848,700 – $228,398,408
WG = Weekend Gross / ODG = Overall Domestic Gross

Similarly to the box office now, we have an Independence Day film in the top 10. However, as one can already see, the original film was very successful, grossing about $817 million once it left theaters, while the sequel released last month has only grossed $337 million. Leaving the top ten this week is disaster movie Twister, eventually grossing $494 million.


Seinfeld (NBC) – 20.1 (Viewers) – 14.2 (Ratings)
MLB All-Star Game (NBC) – 18.5 – 13.2
3rd Rock From the Sun (NBC) – 17.4 – 12.6
ER (NBC) – 15.3 – 11.4
60 Minutes (CBS) – 15.3 – 10.8
PrimeTime Live (ABC) – 14.8 – 10.8
Robin Crook’s Mortal Fear (NBC) – 14.6 – 10.8
Frasier (NBC) – 14.4 – 10.7
Dateline NBC (NBC) – 14.3 – 10.7
20/20 (ABC) – 14.7 – 10.3
Network Ratings Average:
NBC – 9.0 / CBS – 7.2 / ABC – 7.0 / Fox – 4.7 / WB – 2.4 / UPN – 2.2

This week 20 years ago NBC was leading the broadcast television ratings, with an average rating of 9.0. 20 years later and NBC is still on top, averaging a 3.6 rating. Just analyzing the numbers of highest this week to that of 1996 shows the massive decline in prime time television numbers. There is just so many different ways to experience television programs, that in a way, the decline seems reasonable. Funny enough, the big 4 television networks ratings rank remain the same after all these years.

The leading television program this week was an episode of America’s Got Talent on NBC. The show averaged 8.7 million viewers with a 7.6 rating. Now looking back 20 years, a rerun of Seinfeld lead the pack on NBC with 20.1 million viewers with a 14.2 rating. The 1996 MLB All-Star Game was second, averaging 18.5 million viewers with a 13.2 rating. Now while the difference is quite astronomical, the message of variety continues. People these days want variety. With the rise of online program providers amd cable television, especially premium cable channels like HBO and Showtime, the options are endless for television. As many say, we are in the golden era of television.


Nights Into Dreams

Nights into Dreams was one of the top releases for Sega Saturn in terms of reviews. The action game was developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. The game plays quite similarly to classic game Sonic with the exception that instead of running at fast speeds the character. The game came packaged with a controller that featured an analog stick and shoulder triggers. Nights Into Dreams made most top Sega Saturn game list, even making some top all-time game list. The game has since been released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, as well as on digital distribution service Steam.

67th MLB All Star Baseball Game: National League defeats American League 6-0 at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia
All Star MVP: Mike Piazza (LA Dodgers)
United States Senate approves 90 cent raise to $4.25 minimum wage
Nelson Mandela steps down as President of South Africa
STS-78 completes space mission

One of the larger news stories occurring this time was Nelson Mandela announcing he would not seek reelection as President of South Africa once his term ended. Mandela was the countries first democratically elected president. South African Thabo Mbeki succeeded him as president in 1999.

Another hot topic during this time was minimum wage. Senate passed a bill increasing  minimum wage 90 cents to $4.25. While this was two decades ago, this still seems like a very small increase. Adjusted for inflation, the $4.25 is still worth about $6.53 today, hardly livable wage, by any means.

For a sense of what was the top news and events during this week in 1996, check out these interesting articles below from the LA Times. Some news can even parallel some events happening today, such as the release of an Independence Day film and the limits of gun control.

Independence Day Speeding Toward Record
Clinton Testifies for Trial Tied to Whitewater Probe
Proposal to Track Gun Sales Reported
Fight Is at Hand in Senate Over Minimum Wage Hike
Showdown on the Web : Microsoft, Netscape Battle for Net Dominance

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