Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic provided a template for modern gangsta rap. Due to the success of Death Row Records, West Coast gangsta rap commercially dominated hip hop during the early 1990s, along with The Notorious B.I.G. on the East Coast. Hip hop became the best selling music genre by the mid-1990s.

In the United Kingdom, the uniquely British alternative rock Britpop genre emerged as part of the more general Cool Britannia culture, with Blur, Oasis, The Verve, Supergrass, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, Suede, Elastica, Ride and Shed Seven. The impact of boy band pop sensation Take That brings about a widespread scene of teen pop acts around the world such as Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, N Sync, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera who come to prominence into the new millennium. Female pop icons Spice Girls took the world by storm, becoming the most commercially successful British group since The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. 1991 also saw the death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury from AIDS-related pneumonia.