In case you missed it, the MTV Video Music Awards aired live a few weeks ago (Thursday 9/6, to be exact). Yeah, I wasn’t aware of it either until I noticed when I was flipping channels that reruns of it were airing five times per day between episodes of “Jersey Shore” (which thankfully is finally going to end after this season) and “16 and Pregnant.” I had zero desire to sit through the entire show once I found out it was on. It totally slipped my mind that they still air this awards show around this time of year because I sometimes forget that MTV ever used to play music videos, since it’s been overtaken by greasy guidos and teenage sluts. It makes me feel old because I don’t know who half these “artists” are. It also makes me realize that’s mainly because mainstream music has gone to shit.
I’ve narrowed it down to 5 reasons why the 90’s own current music:
1. What made it great is that music was eclectic in the 90’s. Various genres and sub-genres were becoming mainstream that hadn’t been before, such as gangsta rap and grunge. Major mash-ups of genres began happening, like rap/rock and pop/hip-hop. Even dance/electronica received heavy rotation on MTV. Anyone remember The Prodigy? That was some good shit.
2. Popular songs didn’t all sound the same and (most of) the bands and singer/songwriters had some level of talent and could actually sing, and (usually) sang live instead of lip-synching to auto-tuned, over-produced playback. Even the shittiest music from the 90’s was less irritating and catchier than 90 percent of the crap that’s overplayed on Z100 today. Hell, I’d rather listen to Hanson and the Spice Girls than Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj any day.
3. Albums usually had more than one or two good songs. There were multiple hit singles from each album, and most of the non-singles did not simply serve as filler. “Fan favorites” were common, such as “Motorcycle Drive-By” by Third Eye Blind, which concert goers would look forward to hearing just as much as “Semi-Charmed Life,” if not more. Unfortunately, Lady GaGa and Katy Perry are pretty much the only artists that have multiple (make that too many) singles from each album nowadays. This is the era of the single. I’ve had an iTunes account for six years, and I can count on one hand the number of full albums I’ve bought. A good number of the songs I buy are the only ones from their respective albums. Artists that used to sell ten million copies of a CD back in the 90’s are lucky if their new album goes gold today.
4. It was totally acceptable to like mainstream music. Most of my friends listened to Z100 back then. No one felt like they had to listen to bands that no one has ever heard of in order to be “cool.” No one was ashamed to admit that they liked Nirvana, like millions of people are ashamed today to admit they like Nickelback.
5. Even much of today’s generation prefers music from the 90’s and early 2000’s. Any time I watch a music video from the 90’s on Youtube (which is pretty much the only place you can find music videos nowadays), half the comments praise the 90’s decade and express how much they miss it. Even more intriguing is that teenagers who post there say they favor 90’s tunes to their own era’s sad excuse for music. When I’m substitute teaching at high schools, the kids tell me that they listen to Nirvana and Pearl Jam and other 90’s bands. I’ve even witnessed them jamming out on their acoustic guitars to “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down and “By the Way,” one of my favorite songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I sure as hell wasn’t listening to music from the 80’s and most early 90’s tracks (from before I could remember) when I was in high school. Up until about 2006, when mainstream music started to really go downhill, I was listening mostly to current music. Sure there was a good deal of late and even mid-90’s that I imported onto my iPod, but it was mostly newer music.
Most of the music I like that is released now is from artists that I have been a fan of since the 90’s/early 2000’s when they first started, and even their new stuff isn’t the same as it used to be, for the most part.
Every now and then, on those rare occasions I listen to Z100, I’m pleasantly surprised at what I hear. It gives me hope for the future of mainstream music. Most recently, for example, I heard a song for the first time called “Too Close” by Alex Clare. It’s a unique, eerie sound with a dubstep beat that has been catching on lately, and he has a great, unique voice. I then discovered it was the song that’s been used in the Internet Explorer 9 commercials. You should definitely give it a listen.