‘MCMXC A.D.‘: The Electronic Phenomenon Of Michael Cretu And Enigma

On March 2, 1991, Enigma entered the US album chart for the first time with ‘MCMXC A.D,’ on its way to quadruple platinum status there.

Published on

Enigma ‘MCMXC A.D.‘ artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Enigma ‘MCMXC A.D.‘ artwork - Courtesy: UMG

The next time a pop trivia quiz question crops up in which you’re asked to name the Romanian-born artist who sold millions and millions of albums around the world in the 1990s, you’ll know to answer (if you didn’t already) with the name Michael Cretu. On March 2, 1991, the electronic musician and producer born in Bucharest, and later based in Germany, entered the American album chart for the first time under his recording name of Enigma.

Cretu, whose earlier work had included co-producing Mike Oldfield’s 1987 album Islands, recorded with his wife Sandra as lead vocalist under the Enigma banner. In mid-December 1990, they made their UK singles chart debut with the atmospheric ‘Sadeness Part 1,’ which went on to top the chart for a week in January. The song, featuring Gregorian chanting, was inspired by the 18th century French author and libertine, the Marquis de Sade.

Sadeness (Pt. 1 / Radio Edit)

Click to load video

Later that month, the parent album MCMXC A.D. (named after the Roman numeral for the year 1990) repeated the feat by spending a week at No.1 in the UK. Early in February 1991, “Sadeness” made its debut across the Atlantic on the Billboard Hot 100, going on to reach No.5 and gold certification.

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Enigma Best Of playlist.

All of that opened the door for MCMXC A.D. to enter the American album chart, where it went on to reach No.6. It eventually went quadruple platinum in an incredible run of 282 weeks, or well over five years. Reviewers noted its sonic detail, with one calling it “the ‘MacArthur Park’ of its day.”

Amid all the synths and beats, the track “Callas Went Away” even included a sample of the great operatic singer herself. The album was no slouch in the UK either, with an 83-week run, and reportedly topped the charts in more than 40 countries.

Buy or stream MCMXC A.D.



  1. david tozer

    July 22, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I would love to thank Michael Cretu and Enigma…
    Their music was a big part of my recovery from drugs and alcohol.
    It helped me to get up and out of my head.
    Thanks and God bless
    David Tozer~

  2. kosol janewattanavit

    July 22, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    you are the music idol

  3. SoundCell

    July 22, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Cretu worked with Vangelis and Art Of Noise???

  4. EricEV

    July 22, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Michael you have created the soundtrack of my Life. I’ve been following you since 1991 From MCMXC AD to Seven Lives, Many Faces and the Social Song.

    I have all Enigma songs in my mind, and I play them every time I need it

    I am waiting for the 8th, truly desperate, It’s time to start again…

  5. anesto morado

    July 22, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Michael Cretu aka Enigma in creating Sadness part 1, Meaculpa and Return to Innocence created the soundtrack of my life.

  6. lina

    July 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    für mich immer noch genialste musiker,hoffe sie bleiben uns noch erhalten…

  7. anesto morado

    July 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Michael Cretu aka Enigma in creating Sadness part 1, Meaculpa, Return to Innocence, Principles of lust and all his music created the soundtrack of my life. For the past 25 years I have been an ambassador for his music. His music is with me everywhere I go and I hook new listeners all the time. Enigma and all its haunting enigmatic melodies represent all my triumphs, all my failures, my sadness and my soul. Enigma is my companion on earth and when its my time it will join me in the after life. The return to Innocence….

  8. Spiritsinger

    July 22, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I remember hearing this album for the first time on a radio show featuring only new music. I’ve enjoyed his music ever since 🙂

  9. Mossi

    July 22, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I love ENIGMA from Iran

  10. Wendy

    July 22, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    I love enigma since I heard the first time return to innocent after that I still listening enigma all the time

    • TEDD

      January 6, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      Once upon a time I had a lover named Wendy who shared Enigma with me. Although I was familiar with the music it warmed my soul that we got off on the same music, especially since we got off on each other so intensely when we were together…she carries a piece of me with her as I carry her, especially when I listen to certain songs from my Enigma playlist…mmmmm

  11. Alejandro

    July 22, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Enigma marked me for life ….

  12. Ona Baliukienė

    July 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Klausydama šios muzikos parašiau ne vieną eilėraštį. Ačiū.

  13. Old Ironsights

    July 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    “Modern Crusaders”, “Cross of Changes”, and, “I love you, I’ll Kill You”…. Songs that define the Era…

  14. Vaclav

    July 22, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Does Michael still work on Enigma project and does he plan to release a new album or he doesn`t make music any more?

  15. Jeff

    July 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    This album along with the many other albums that Michael and Sandra Cretu did made me realize that suffering from Mental health and other issues I had then even sexual abuse I suffered brought me to the reality, that to believe in myself and look into my heart my friend that was innocent and that has carried me through and whatever stress happens in my life I can overcome these things, but we all know depression and anxiety wont go away over night, and these things are apart of me, but I always tell people now to believe in themselves and to be honest with themselves and honest to their heart and now I live by the motto “Believe in Destiny, Don;t care what people say, Just Follow your own way and don’t give up and loose the chance” and that’s what I have done thank you Sandra and Michael.

  16. Ronald Ridley

    July 22, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Their music is great scene music for those into D/s.

  17. Naval

    July 23, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Enigma, I am thankful to my friend chintu who introduced me to this amazing world of Enigma. And Micheal has been at the helm of it ever since. It was 1992 when i first encountered enigma and that has been the most loved accident of my life since then. Cheers for 8th engima to come.

  18. STEVEN

    July 23, 2015 at 9:56 am

    You painfully forgot to mention the well known producer and song writer Frank Peterson who also was a part of Enigma on this album. It was Frank Peterson who added the famous monk sound to it, and in my opinion that was, what Enigma made so unique and famous.

  19. Agath Maher

    July 23, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Its really impossible to describe the music of Enigma. But am sure its the only master music in entire world. Thanks for the magical music you gave to the world.

  20. Jackie

    July 23, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I love Enigma, it has been a huge part of my life and I’ve loved every album. I keep hoping that a new album will be produced, but I do love what has been created already.

  21. Barka

    July 23, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Tank you for everything. I feel it same. Tank you.

  22. sue

    July 24, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I love Enigma so much. Many many years of enjoyment, very excited about the new album, cant wait

  23. Fiona

    July 24, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Music that is timeless no matter where and when it was created! I have and always love Enigma!

  24. Lynda

    September 9, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Amazing music and great chill out after bad day. I find great healing from the music! Thankyou and awaiting your next inspired work.

  25. Akilah t'Zuberi

    September 10, 2015 at 1:29 am

    I remember being turned on to Enigma. I was in a car driving up to the mountains. I was astounded by the intimacy of the lyrics. I have not since questioned my sanity.

  26. stephanie

    September 10, 2015 at 10:33 am

    I loved Michael Cretu (Enigma) after listening to Sadness, Meaculpa, Return to Innocence. It made me forget my worries and puts my mind @ ease

  27. Shahab

    September 10, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    I really enjoy it. My great choise. With many Thanks to dear Mr cretu from Iran.

  28. vicky

    September 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Everytime i listened to Enigma songs, it takes me to a different world altogether. Cretu’s creations “Sadness”, “Return to innocence”, “the child in us”, “mea culpa”, “the eyes of truth” are truly amazing & takes me into a state of meditation, serenity, calmness…Hats off to him…for producing such eternal compositions…

  29. Laurie

    October 7, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Bought it then, still have it now, played and played. Whole family are converts.

  30. jim

    October 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Brain candy– I love this stuff!

  31. Jinkenag

    October 7, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I LOVE. For always

  32. Sally

    October 8, 2015 at 7:03 am

    I first heard Enigma while watching ‘Boxing Helena’ , (‘Sadeness’ was in the soundtrack), and I’ve been listening ever since. Enigma is my absolute favorite!

  33. shaun browning

    October 9, 2015 at 4:24 am

    Enigma music is the language of my soul. Peace Love Music

  34. Serb

    December 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    At the time that MCMXC a.d was released, I was a 13 yearas old. I remember that one day my older brother brought the tape home, and on my first listening, I was stunned! The whole new world opened for me. And, what’s most importaint, this album made me think and question things, about life and death, mysticism… To this day, it’s still one of my all time top 5 albums. And I listen to lot of different music. And I always come back to this one, and always will… Cretu is the master of atmosphere, he knows how to make things sound the way they should sound. He is a great music engineer, at first place. And I hope that Enigma 8 will be back to roots. First 3 albums are masterpiece.
    Thank You, MC.

    Slobodan, Serbia.

  35. Paul A

    February 20, 2016 at 6:25 am

    I have admired the music that enigma created including all the albums and singles that were ever made, However over the last week i decided to do an indeph research on enigma IE (Michael Cretu) and everything that he (enigma) have done and what was used and were a lot of it came from. I,m disappointed to find that in the first three albums Michael used so many samples that came from various artists to put those first 3 albums together. as a musical minded person i believe that when you do music its from your own idea but if you take samples from other artists and i mean a lot of them, then in my view you are no artist at all just a band like jive bunny and the master mixes who use other artists work to make music because they cant come up with there own idea and to make money. Michael was sued for several samples and i cant believe he still uses other people samples to this day to make his so called music. my only advice would be to go back to the beginning and start again but this time stop going through hundreds of CD samples to come up with ideas for a track use your own idea and if you cant then don’t make music do something else. im not sorry for what i,ve written i,m very disappointed that its taken me years to now see the truth behind all this mysteriousness.

  36. Andrés Ramela

    March 2, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    La mejor música de todos los tiempos, fiel seguidor desde sus comienzos….

  37. Sigivald

    March 2, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    “The song, featuring Gregorian chanting, was inspired by the 18th century French author and libertarian, the Marquis de Sade.”


    The difference is … significant.

  38. Cesare

    April 2, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Long Live to #Enigma

  39. Carlos Castillo Caceres.

    March 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Música espectacular, pura energía, para ver la antimateria de nuestro alrededor, mejorar y perfeccionar nuestro carma interno y transmitir las pulsaciones de energía y capas de transformar este universo caótico a un universo ordenado y limpio, ya que el ser humano esta llegando a su máxima cúspide, es hora de que se autodescubran y empecemos de nuevo, un nuevo orden de vida mas limpia y equilibrada.

  40. Ta3ideftis

    March 2, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Michael Cretu: A revolutionary artist, the alternate word of “new age”!
    Sadeness Part 1 was a song beyond its time! It was No1 in Greece for more that 8 consecutive weeks, if I remember correctly (and I was 111 years old)!
    For me, the Enigma project was the absolute transition from the 80’s to 90’s! Cretu changed the industry by creating a music like no other, leading its standards to a higher level!
    Eight albums, eight masterpieces, eight rivers of belief!

  41. John Woodrum

    March 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    I have loved this music since the 90’s, and will continue to.Its been my go to music for years. Hope to see more jams come from them soon.

  42. Alejandro morales

    March 3, 2017 at 4:44 am

    No hay nada más en el mundo que me guste, solo la música de ENIGMA
    Fan num 1

  43. pablo

    October 17, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    I like enigma this music make me think in depth live. Thank you a lot to its creators

  44. wilhelm stelmaszczuk

    December 19, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    uwielbiam ten pierwszy album enigma ona jest super fajnym

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Abba - Waterloo 50th Anniversary
Abba - Waterloo 50th Anniversary (Limited Edition 3 x 7" Box Set)
Bob Marley - Songs Of Freedom Limited Edition 6LP Box Set
Bob Marley - Songs Of Freedom Limited Edition 6LP Box Set
Garbage - Bleed Like Me Limited Edition White LP
Garbage - Bleed Like Me Limited Edition White LP
Stephen Marley - Old Soul Limited Edition Color 2LP
Stephen Marley
Old Soul Limited Edition Color 2LP
Shania Twain - Greatest Hits 2LP
Shania Twain
Greatest Hits 2LP
Nelly Furtado - Loose 2LP
Nelly Furtado
Loose 2LP
uDiscover Music - Back To Top
uDiscover Music - Back To Top