I Love the 90s? (Alternative to what?)

I think it was at some point after Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album became a huge success that Rolling Stone published a article stating that Alternitive music died when people started spelling it with a capital “A.” I wrote a response that is lost to history. Well, I say “lost;” it’s on a 3.5 disk, which is somewhere around here. It might as well be on a reel to reel tape. My theory was that Alternitive died back in the 80s when Camelot Music gave it its own section. Or was it Record Bar? It was so long ago, I cannot remember.

With the advent of grunge, (Grunge?) Alternitive became mainstream. Suddenly, a lot of the bands I liked in the 80s were lumped into this catagory, which I guess is a better term than “college rock,” so named because they was mostly heard on college radio stations. The next thing you know, Top 40 and “Lite FM” stations are changing their format to Alternitive because that is where the money is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I minded hearing The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths on a station that didn’t cut out when I drove through a shady spot, it’s that the songs and bands I loved were now music for the masses. No pun intended.

I have a confession to make: I wasn’t sold on Nirvana the first time I heard them. I liked “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but I didn’t love it. It wasn’t until “All Apologies” that I “got” Nirvana. After that, I was all in. Yeah, I know.

Some say grunge died along with Kurt Cobain, but to me it died when I saw moms wearing flannel shirts and knock off Doc Marten boots pushing strollers through suburban malls. The final nail was when rural youth ministers started sporting Dave Grohl-like facial hair. Speaking of Dave Grohl, I have been a fan of Foo Fighters since day one. For what it’s worth.

Any time a fashion statement is connected to a style of music, you know it’s not long for the world. (See also: punk in the 1970s.) A lot of people think that grunge killed hair metal; it’s a common misconception. Hair metal was on the wain when grunge came along; it was just a matter of time before something replaced it. Record companies, in their infinite wisdom, starting signing every hair band they could find in the late Eighties and early Nineties. I didn’t know at the time that acts like Steelheart and Firehouse were the signal of the end of an era, but I should have. Sometimes I do learn from history, such as the case when Candlebox came along. That’s when I put my flannel shirts in the back of the closet.


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