As the decade began, Hair Metal (Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, etc.) ruled and looked as though it would continue to do so.
But in Seattle there was a cadre of musicians creating a new, heavy sound that was influenced in a large part by the area’s dark, gloomy weather.
Ironically, Seattle-based Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, plus the Chicago’s Smashing Pumpkins, had all released albums before Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” a set with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are,” made Grunge a national obsession. Like London in the mid-‘60s or San Francisco in the late-‘60’s, Seattle was the place to be.
Glam Metal was no longer relevant. Long, stringy hair and make-up was out. Flannel and torn jeans were in. The poster-boy for Grunge was none other than Nirvana’s frontman Kurt Cobain.
Though Nirvana only recorded three studio albums in its brief existence they were a bell-weather for the entire movement. “Angst” was incorporated into the public lexicon when discussing Grunge.
So when the troubled Cobain took his life in April of ’94 he essentially took Grunge with him. Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and even Alice In Chains successfully continued, though AIC’s Layne Staley had his own demons eventually succumbing to a drug overdose in ’02, Grunge was no longer “the thing.”
Music fans moved on to Post-Grunge. In England Oasis and Blur fought for dominance. In the U.S., Green Day scored with “Dookie” selling over 10-million albums. Blink 182 followed suit.
But as the decade ended there was a new direction. Hip-Hop and Rap was ever present in pop so it seemed natural that Rock bands would incorporate key Hip-Hop elements. Nu Metal was the result.