I am a child of the Buzz Bin.
1989 was a big year for me. Not only did I begin the 6th grade, but Belmont also finally got cable TV, and boy was I excited about MTV. As I attempted to navigate the baffling social matrix of middle school, I discovered grunge, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a whole lot more by watching Totally Pauly, frantically pressing "record" when songs I liked came on, and with one eye (and ear) trying to glean musical guidance from my impossible older sister. It was not the best of times. Middle school seldom is.
As alternative rock morphed from the friendly confines of REM and INXS in the late 1980s to the edgy and dangerous territory carved out by Nine Inch Nails and Alice in Chains, I got to high school as alternative rock became mainstream, as Nirvana took over the universe, and as Seattle became the epicenter of everything cool that could ever be. I remember those days well.
The rest of the 1990s passed in a hazy glow of adolescence, high school, and college, and as I bid adieu to the decade and to the millennium, popular alternative rock had fully evolved into Top 40 without much difference.
In the spirit of #TBT, classic Buzz Bin hits, the 26th anniversary of Trent Reznor releasing “Pretty Hate Machine, and Back To The Future Day that broke the internet yesterday (sorry Cubs fans), here’s a look back at one song per year from 1989-2000 that captures the unmistakable sound of 1990s alternative rock, that ironic combination of whiny vocals that always sound kind of British, plaintive guitars that drone on forever, and part-haunting/part-catchy melodies.
You know that sound. Now go make a playlist. This one covers grades 6 through senior year of college for me, which is double spooky since I have a 7th grader now. I’m definitely getting old.
1989, Nine Inch Nails, “Head Like A Hole”
1990, Jane’s Addiction, “Been Caught Stealing”
1991, Live, “Pain Lies On The Riverside”
1992, Temple of the Dog, “Hunger Strike”
1993, Blind Melon, “No Rain”
1994, Green Day, “Basket Case”
1995, Oasis, “Wonderwall”
1996, Smashing Pumpkins, “1979”
1997, Marcy Playground, “Sex and Candy”
1998, The Verve, “Bittersweet Symphony”
1999, Semisonic, “Closing Time”
2000, Linkin Park, “In The End”