Totally 90s: The Essential Nineties Album veers pretty far away from the collection of definitive '90s hits it promises, offering an almost random mix of early-'90s dance-pop, alternative rap, and bubblegum instead. The album's British roots are revealed in selections like Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine's "The Only Living Boy in New Cross," Jesus Jones' "Real Real Real," and Lulu's "Independence"; while they may be U.K. hits, it's still doubtful whether or not they're among the finest or most memorable singles of the '90s. The collection goes further astray with songs like Horse's "Careful" and Kenny Thomas' "Outstanding"; there's nothing wrong with either song, but neither is especially well-known, either. Totally 90s gets the closest to providing definitive singles with EMF's "Unbelievable" and Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby," both of which capture the shiny, somewhat silly vibe of pre-grunge '90s music. Arrested Development's "Mr. Wendall" and Tasmin Archer's "Sleeping Satellite" are two of the album's more critically acclaimed tracks, and Totally 90s also gets points for including Shampoo's "Trouble" as a guilty pleasure, but overall the collection is too scattered and a little too obscure to make it a worthwhile '90s retrospective.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares