I’m gonna say it. Despite the cliché, because it’s true: Music today just ain’t what it used to be.
I was born in 1981. Junior high for me was 1993 to 1995. High school was from 1995 to 1999. And I say in all confidence that compared to the current generic decency of Nickelback and the outright douchebaggery of bands like Godsmack and Buckcherry, my generation of rock music was far superior.
Not that I have anything against the stuff they play on Jack FM (Phil Collins, Eddie Money, The Police, etc.) or my parents’ music (The Beatles, The Eagles, The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc.) because I’m a huge classic music fan. Just as I’m a Movie Guy, I’m absolutely a Music Guy as well.
I get it. Every music lover out there seems to hold a warm place in their heart for the music that was popular when they were a teenager. Here I am doing the same thing; I’m no different. Those bands and songs are all attached to places, people, and stories from a time where I was “discovering who I was”. Grunge and alternative rock makes up the soundtrack of my teenage years.
I clearly remember in 8th grade, after school getting off the bus several blocks too soon to visit the local music store (that coincidently was only open that year and the following year, when alternative music ruled the music scene) to purchase the groundbreaking Green Day album, Dookie (at the time, I was still buying cassettes, not CD’s). From Janis Joplin to Santana to Dinosaur Jr. to Blind Melon, they had it all in stock. Along with several racks of appropriate signs-of-the-times jewelry including, but not limited to, clay “shroom” necklaces.
What I remember most about that music store isn’t the name, being that I have no clue what it was called, but the smell. Incense. A sweeter smell than patchouli. I can’t help but assume that the constantly burning incense had something to do with the store owners covering up a different smoke smell of their own.
When I hear “Ironic” or “Hand in My Pocket” or “You Learn” by Alanis Morissette, or “Today” by The Smashing Pumpkins (which I would have to declare as the official song of my teenage years), an emotional spark ignites in my brain, causing me to simultaneously travel back to 1995 and feel a rush of euphoria.
So maybe what exactly constitutes as grunge or alternative is a bit blurry. Typically, the lyrics are abstract, weird, and sometimes bit creepy. The guitars are layered with both “staticky” and “crystallized” effects. Whatever it was and is, it makes me happy. Long live grunge and alternative!
Since I released my top 25 favorite movies this week (Movie Guy, at Your Service: My Top Ten Favorites), I might as well attempt to release my top twenty favorite bands of the grunge and alternative rock era. Yes, it is controversial, but on my list, Nirvana is not present. Like Soundgarden, they were too depressing for me. I’m judging these by their relevance of grunge and alternative music in my personal life. This is not a list of my favorite bands of all time- that’s a different list altogether.
My Top Twenty Favorite Bands of the Grunge and Alternative Rock Era
1) Smashing Pumpkins
3) Green Day
4) Third Eye Blind
6) The Wallflowers
7) Alanis Morissette
10) Gin Blossoms
11) Counting Crows
12) The Cranberries
13) Matchbox Twenty
15) Collective Soul
16) Red Hot Chili Peppers
17) Foo Fighters
19) Pearl Jam
20) Better Than Ezra
Do you want to share your list with me? Then do it!
Me in 1995, AKA "The Grunge Days"