Hair Metal might have gone on forever had it not been obliterated by Grunge (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins).
The passing of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain took the wind out of Grunge giving way to Post-Punk Power Pop (Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Blink 182). From the ashes, Nirvana’s drummer Dave Grohl emerged as the leader of the immensely popular Foo Fighters.
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.
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.