This left a tremendous power vacuum in 1996, and this vacuum was
vicious: the most popular bands of the genre in the 80s (REM) and
90s (Pearl Jam) -- in terms of raw sales -- saw their new albums
received with relative apathy, even though "Adventures in Hi Fi"
and "No Code" were both reasonably good albums.
Instead, the power vacuum of 1996 let another sub-genre slip into
the mainstream and out. This genre, aka ska/skacore, was kind of
a mix between punk and reggae, and let bands like Rancid, Goldfinger,
Sublime, and No Doubt dominate the charts for a short while. But,
as with punk, they became so mainstream that they had to leave it,
creating another vacuum.
Which leaves 1997 in a very confused state. MTV claimed that
the "electronic" sound would be the next big thing to enter and
leave the mainstream alternative world, allowing cruddy bands like
Prodigy to suck up their 15 minutes. I mean, where is the "band"
in Chemical Brothers - it's just a bunch of wanking megamixing DJs
doing little more than sit on their arses pressing buttons.
Unfortunately, this trend has infected other bands, so that the
otherwise rational (and long-lived by our standards) artists like
U2 and David Bowie released some terrible electronic-filled tripe
earlier this year. Worse, traditional electronic bands -- such
as Depeche Mode -- seem to be going in the other direction: taking
the electronics out, and putting lots of dark guitars in. This
trick was inherited from Trent Reznor, who stole it from bands like
Skinny Puppy to give it to bands like Marilyn Manson -- thanks
Trent for being the Robin Hood of bad style. It cuts everywhere
now, too -- the Smashing Pumpkins song "Eye" on the Lost Highway
soundtrack is so electronic, you wonder if any humans took place
in making the music.
So the "electronic" sound is disappointing to lots of people who
are fans of alternative music, and it's creating another vacuum.
And what's filling the vacuum now? POP MUSIC. Hanson
(a 15, 13, and 11 year old with a recording contract) is getting
heavy airplay with their Jackson5-inspired "Mmmbop", and
Jamiroquai sounds just like Stevie Wonder in his heavily
played "Virtual Insanity". And the Cardigans are like Abba on
I say we cut our losses, declare alternative music dead, and
let it get sucked back into the Hot 100. Then we can use KUCI
as the basis for a newer, better, REAL alternative station.
Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
-- Dennis Miller