Ah the nineties. The decade that would bring us the internet and girl-power. Movies would be mixed with Disney at it’s best and then those producer types making us suffer through Titantic. TV would be great and give us The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Simpsons (who already existed, but became a household name in the 90’s) and Pokémon! Sadly reality TV would start this decade thanks to MTV, but Cribs was alright (shame all reality TV after this was mostly painful!). Music would go literally pop crazy with girls bands like the Spice Girls appearing, boybands like the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and the solo stars the likes of Britney and Christina. But rock would have it’s place in there too. At the start of the decade, one of the most influential bands ever would appear and towards the end there would be some crazy rivalry in rock between more accented bands (the 60’s heroes had truly a big influence this decade!)
Nirvana: Whether you were around when they were big or not shouldn’t stop you from seeing where Dave Grohl started out and how influential Nirvana were in their short career. Many people I know weren’t even old enough to remember Cobain, but hail him as their hero. Why? For many it’s a fade thing, but for some it’s because he was a great writing force and another talented musician that left us too early.
Album you should check out: Nevermind. It’s got ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on it and shot the band to mainstream success. It also features another belter in ‘Come As You Are’.
Blur: Not many bands can say they reinvented themselves well enough to survive in two completely separate genres and see success in them both. Blur can though. They survived the “Britpop years” and then saw success after the end of Britpop. They wrote some catchy as hell songs, and although I’ve never been a big fan, I seem to be able to sing along with any Blur single quite happily and that is just how much they were played on radio during the 90’s. They also brought with the a host of other bands in the Britpop era. Listen to these and then work your way through.
Album you should check out: Parklife. This was a hard one to pick because this album and the 2 that followed it had a huge collection of hits, but this is the one that really was the start of Blur’s radio success.
Foo Fighters: This is where Dave Grohl left the drumkit behind (shame cause he’s so good) and rocked up to the mix (although he’s pretty good at this too!). He’s been described by Pitchfork Media as “his generation’s answer to Tom Petty – a consistent hit machine pumping out working-class rock”.
The line up has barely changed and they’ve always stayed true to their sound. They’ve won countless awards including 6 Grammy’s. Grohl said, “it might be nice to broaden our range, open up the dynamics, so we can go out and just make music”. Never be afraid to give other stuff a go.
Album you should check out: The Colour and the Shape. There is a host of classic Foo Fighters tracks on this album and not a single bad track. A fantastic listen from beginning to end.
Green Day: A band that were punk rock before it became cool, and then helped make it just that.
But to take it to the next level you have to be willing to draw influence from heroes past. So they created a rock opera, ‘American Idiot’ in 2004 and in 2010 the stage adaptation debuted on Broadway.
Album you should check out: Dookie. This album had hit single after hit single. Who cannot love ‘Basketcase’ or ‘Welcome to Paradise’. The start of a much amazing career. And it’s 20 years old this year!
But as with many bands, they died with their genre. So how can they be influential you ask? Because they proved you can invent a genre and be successful. Shame they didn’t re-invent themselves and do it all over again.
Album you should check out: The Real Thing. Mike Patton’s first album with the band and the one that features ‘Epic’.
Korn: Have been one of those bands that have just always been around. And whether they’re well known because Jonathon Davis wears a kilt or what, I’m not sure (it’s certainly a bit different and noticeable ain’t it?)
But they had managed to survive so long on a genre long since dead (nu-metal) and one that had claimed so many other bands with it’s demise. So why as the genre is making a come back do Korn suddenly make a dive to the currently popular dub step?
Your guess is as good as mine, but they’ve survived this long so maybe they know something we don’t but either way they’ve proved that the genre can live on through you providing you stay true to it. Even if their last attempt at it was a bit hit and miss. After doing so well for so long, they can ride one bad wave.
Album you should check out: Follow the Leader. It’s hard to pick a Korn album, but this was the album that brought them mainstream success and featured that absolute awesome track ‘Freak on a Leash’.
Rage Against the Machine: always a band willing to fight for what they think is right. And even if you don’t agree with them they’ve taught future generations that you don’t always have to take the shit lying down.
Album you should check out: Rage Against the Machine. The band’s self-titled album was a huge success and featured ‘Killing in the Name’ which would years later become Christmas number 1 in a battle to stop X-Factor winning again.
Rancid: Whilst in their prime and at the height of their success Rancid decided to have a little fun and shop around for a label, before settling for staying exactly where they were. They’ve proved that you can always look elsewhere but if you’re truly good enough the offer will be good enough to stay right where you already were.
Album you should check out: …And Out Come the Wolves. This album did so well that Rancid became the most popular American punk rock band to be signed to an independent label.
Marilyn Manson: Never afraid to push the boundaries of what was acceptable and never afraid to shock. Always willing to draw from their influences and experiment for the greater good of their music. They prove that anything is possible when you really try hard enough.
Album you should check out: Antichrist Superstar. The album that made Marilyn Manson a household name. Even my mum knew who he was (she didn’t realise it was a band haha!) and liked him, despite all the controversy.
The influence of the guitar playing can be seen through a ton of American metal bands since according to Popmatters. They then went on to list a ton of American bands as well as Bullet for My Valentine (so as a British magazine we’re claiming ’em back – oi, they’ve not bloody American, they’re British!).
Album you should check out: Vulgar Display of Power. Only reason I picked this is not only did it receive rave reviews at the time of release, but it features ‘Walk’ which is a tune!
No Doubt: No Doubt hit it majorly big with album ‘Tragic Kindgom’ and then had almost the exact opposite effect with the follow up ‘Return to Saturn’. But they proved you can find the top again which they did with ‘Rock Steady’.
They also prove girl fronted bands don’t have to be shouty and in fact shouldn’t be shouty because Gwen is just too good!
Album you should check out: Tragic Kingdom. The album that introduced me to No Doubt and I’ve never looked back since. And neither did a lot of people because ‘Don’t Speak’ went to number 1 in the states and charted in the top 5 in many other countries.