I lived my teenage and young adult life during the ’90s, and I feel sad for my son’s generation that they will never experience it. Maybe I am mistaken, but it was a magical time when we saw democracy at its peak, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall, among other exhilarating moments. An online post is sharing people’s favorite iconic ’90s rock bands, so I selected ten bands from the thread.
Seattle, all we can say is thank you. Thank you for giving us Kurt, Dave, and Krist. Quite simply, Nirvana owned the ’90s. Yes, U2 had those big concerts, while the Backstreet Boys body-flexed their way to late-’90s MTV saintdom, but Nirvana stole the hearts of so many American teenagers.
Kurt and co., we salute you. Sidenote: Krist Noveselic wins the decade’s greatest MTV Awards moment for attempting to catch an air-born bass with his face.
This band has been together for a long time now, though they still fill out stadia across the Western world. I have beef with Tool, but not for any musical reason — they are my favorite rock band. However, glaciers move faster than this group when it comes to releasing new material.
“Of all of the bands I listened to in high school, only Tool still gets any real play,” says a thread member. Yeah — that’s the last time they released an album! Come on, Maynard James Keenan; stop making wine and make more music, dang it!
3. Pearl Jam
Not many bands made an impact like Seattle’s Pearl Jam. My favorite story involves how they auditioned a young vocalist from California called Eddie Vedder, sending him a demo on which to record vocals. Imagine their faces hearing that brooding, articulate, tortured voice for the first time.
This demo became their debut, Ten. “What blows my mind about Ten is that it was their first album,” proclaims a fellow fan. “And every song is just as good as the previous one.” Preach.
4. Rage Against The Machine
For heavy rock fans, this decade never stopped giving. In 1991, Rage Against The Machine dropped their cocktail of musical napalm on the U.S. music industry. Parents were outraged, and teenagers like me told them, “This aggression will not stand!”
Or was that George Bush? In any case, they were my go-to band for just about any excuse. “What machine did they even rage against?” asks a cheeky thread contributor. “Skynet” is the next reply. Gold.
Oxford’s alternative rock pioneers are still going strong, having released over a dozen studio albums and E.P.s. Their first four albums are masterpieces, though their discography is a diverse landscape of sound to explore for any first-time Radiohead listener. I recommend complete chronological order, starting with Pablo Honey, their 1993 debut record. The difference between this first album and 2000’s Kid A is astonishing.
6. Alice in Chains
When I was 14, I went on my first trip to the USA, namely Washington State. On this trip, I procured a copy of Seattle grunge-metal band Alice in Chains’ breakthrough record, Dirt. Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell’s doom-mongering harmonies were inspiring, perfectly capturing their generation’s angst. “I named my horse Rooster after their song,” adds a commenter with — I expect — one confused horse!
7. The Smashing Pumpkins
The Smashing Pumpkins’ sound is hard to describe outside its post-punk, indie rock pigeonhole. The music is emotional, yet Billy Corgan’s demeanor is aloof.
They float between FM-friendly soft pop to bone-crunching heavy guitars. “I’ve been exploring Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness again after a two-decade hiatus,” shares a one-time follower. “I can’t get enough of the amazing songwriting and beautiful arrangements by Corgan and crew.”
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers
Who can forget the Los Angeles Four-Piece superstar funksters? In a curious post, someone claims they are a semi-fan, not having bought an album since 1999’s eponymous Californication. “But I can say this,” digresses the commenter. “I’ve seen them twice, and that is a band that absolutely exists to play live.”
“I dare anyone to dislodge the bassline to “Coffee & T.V.” from their brains,” says the final Britpop aficionado. Blur’s U.K. preppy-chic, indie-rock music started radio-friendly and chart-ready. However, their late-decade resurgence saw them disappear into a darker, more mysterious soundscape. “They were not afraid to reinvent themselves and try new styles,” agrees another fan. Woo-hoo!
Seattle will always dominate discussions about music in the ’90s. Although mainstream culture sees grunge as a musical genre, bands like Soundgarden transcend this definition. Their melodic, post-punk metal with Chris Cornell’s armor-piercing, ethereal vocals was raw power incarnate. If you have yet to discover this band, quench yourself and drink the water flowing from Soundgarden’s torrid river.
This thread inspired this post.
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