I was in high school and college during the first half of 1990s. This was probably the hey-day of my musical knowledge. This was the time when my friends and I spent our own money for the first time on tapes and CDs. MTV and radio were not only relevant, but they were also important. Looking back at the music from 15-20 years ago, my question is this: Did my generation have bad music?
Take a look at the music we were essentially told to like during that era. This is the popular music as opposed to the more obscure songs and artists. The artists that still hold up today include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg, Sheryl Crow, Green Day, and Mariah Carey. You can probably also include Alanis Morissette and the Dave Matthews Band into the discussion. Sure, there were also artists like REM, Tom Petty, U2, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Metallica, and Guns ‘N Roses that did well during this era, but I’m not including them since they first made it big prior to this time.
I realize that you can’t use the Grammys as the sole authority on popular and relevant music, but here are some of the Best New Artist nominees and winners from 1990-1996: Milli Vanilli, Neneh Cherry, Soul II Soul, Tone Loc, The Kentucky Headhunters, Wilson Phillips, Lisa Stansfield, Marc Cohn, C+C Music Factory, Color Me Badd, Seal, Arrested Development, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sophie B. Hawkins, Kris Kross, Jon Secada, Belly, Blind Melon, Digable Planets, SWV, Ace of Base, and Crash Test Dummies. Yikes! Throw in a lot of grunge sound-a-likes and Lilith Fair artists that were often difficult to differentiate, and this was definitely not the golden era of music.
Don’t get me wrong. I like songs from many of these artists. "The Humpty Dance" and "Baby Got Back" could be among the greatest songs ever recorded. However, how does this music stack up against that from other eras? Sure, every generation has bad music, but I feel like the average music from this era is worse than the average music from any 5-6 year portion of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the 2000s. Of course, the current music may turn out to be much worse depending on the career of Justin Bieber.