Monday, April 2, 2012

The grungyness of post-grunge

I've always been leery about the Foo Fighters. Let's rewind back to 1994. I only witness Unplugged after the suicide (when MTV played it into the ground). But, when Cobain did die, the band broke up for good. This is a very good thing. Dave Grohl (technically) did the right thing and made a new band of his own. In an alternate reality, he could have led Nirvana Mark Two into a pseudo-grunge era. Let's talk about that label: "grunge".

First of all, grunge is not what you think. Unless you were in Seattle in the late 80s, or are a rock researcher, you don't really understand. And, let's be honest: most musicians don't even know what genre their song represents. Let's even be more honest: genres are an imperfect quagmire of a system.

When I think of "grunge", I do not think about Nirvana. My mind echoes Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and early Silverchair. Nirvana transcended that genre pigeonhole in 1991.

The year of 1994 was a pivotal moment in my life. My favorite year of music. Several albums were hot then: Siamese Dream, Throwing Copper, The Downward Spiral. None of those were true grunge, however. The post-grunge era of music had already begun!

What is post-grunge? For examples, listen to:
  • Bush: Sixteen Stone
  • Foo Fighters: The Colour and the Shape
  • Creed: My Own Prison
  • Nickelback...
  • anything labeled "2000s rock" in your iTunes
Eww... hair...
When the Colour and the Shape  released in 1997, the music world was a terrifying place. All the old giants that couldn't adapt went the way of the dinosaur. That summer, I got a major lesson in music culture... via the Boy Scouts. Bands like K's Choice, Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, and Foo Fighters were major topics of discussion, as we had no radio and only CDs and tape recordings. These were all bands that were marketed and produced as "grungy", but without all the flannel and whatnot. "Diet grunge"... But, removing the "whatnot" would be looked back on as a mistake.

The Foo Fighters were (and are) very popular. In 1997, all of my friends loved their second album. But, as I said before, I was leery. I didn't like it. I bought the album (only because of the "Everlong" video), but the rest of that album is extremely polished quasi-grunge. Take a look at the vapid "My Hero". Not that deep, and perfect for Guitar Center clientele. I admit, I learned to play that song on guitar (it's very easy). Dave Grohl pretty much single-handedly invented this style. And even right now, in 2012, he is still in his element. Dave's music wins Grammys. And I'm not blaming him for ruining music. Ultimately, the masses ruin everything...

The question is: when the hell will this sub-sub-genre ever become unpopular?
The dilemma: no one would ever admit their favorite music is post-grunge.

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