Remember when the macarena was the dance to do? Or how about when you could turn on the TV and watch new episodes of Seinfeld or Friends or could scream about how terrible The Phantom Menace was and still be considered relevant. Yes people, I’m talking about the music in the 90s and I don’t mean Brittney or Christina, ‘NSync or the Backstreet Boys (pre-coming out of the closet) or even the Tupac/Biggie feud. I’m glorifying these bands of the 90s to help create a musical legacy that isn’t just gangsta rap posturing, soulless pop or teen idol emptiness.
I’m going to start off with probably the nerdiest band of the past two decades: Weezer. Pick a color either blue, green or red and you’ve picked a great album. Listening to Weezer is sort of like being shot into an alternate universe where your angst isn’t particularly angsty and it doesn’t hurt because you yourself can trivialize it to the point of hilarity. In that alternate reality though, all memory of Buddy Holly and Mary Tyler Moore are preserved so you don’t need much else.
Now I would be remiss to talk about 90s music without mentioning the great grunge movement of long greasy hair, angry angst, unwanted popularity and battles against commercial success. My favorite band from this lovely genre is Pearl Jam, whose battles against their own popularity included taking on ticketmaster and refusing to release one of their most popular songs as a single. That being said, Pearl Jam could both rock (on Even Flow) and ballad (on Better Man) and are one of the still relevant grunge acts of the 90s.
In a totally different universe from pretty much anything else I listen to lies Rage Against the Machine. Built primarily on testosterone and pedal effects, Rage built up a following because their anger was directed not at themselves or evil heart breaking harpies but at the unseen forces that control our political and economic landscapes. Switch out Rage frontman for Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell and you get Audioslave which I confess is not a 90s band but draws heavily from grunge music and is definitely worth a listen.