…or, My problem with grunge, right here (emphasis mine — ed.):
…to say grunge was more “authentic” or “culturally relevant” is crap. It was just as much about fashion and image as “hair-metal” had been: it was just a different fashion and image. I never had a beef with grunge itself, just the way it was hyped up at the expense of pretty much everything that had come before in the preceding ten years or so (remember all that “decade of credibility” BS trumpeted by the MTV/Rolling Stone/Spin crowd? Chris Cornell insisting that Soundgarden “were not influenced by heavy metal in any way, shape or form?”) A ton of great music was released in the years ’87-’91-ish, but all anybody remembers are the cheesy video like “Cherry Pie” or “Seventeen.”
That was exactly the problem I had with the whole grunge/alternative movement. Some years back in a discussion I recall someone credited the grunge movement for killing glam metal. I remember thinking, “Yeah, I suppose it did, but the flip side of that is that it made people forget about the other subgenres of metal, too.” To go back to the old cliche, they threw the baby out with the bath water. I appreciate Nirvana a lot more than I used to, and I did start liking Soundgarden a lot when I started exploring other genres besides country. (Steeeeil can’t stand the Red Hot Chili Peppers, though.) However, what seemed to be the discounting of the entire 1980s metal scene really pissed me off — and still does, more so now than it used to because of all the great music from that period that I’ve just recently discovered. I said before that I got a kick out of whoever edited the Wikipedia page for grunge saying that “glam metal…fell out of favor in the face of music that was authentic and culturally relevant.” Talk about ignorant. There was a lot of authentic music getting made in the 1980s. It just wasn’t getting played as much as the glam metal. And what were “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “Fight Fire With Fire” if not culturally relevant?
Or perhaps the word I’m looking for is “timely” — but either way, so what? I think cultural relevance is all relative and thus entirely too subjective to be of use to determine the worth of a piece of music anyway. Yeah, I know it was Wikipedia; but I am certain there are more than a few of that generation who would read that and think, “Yeah, exactly!”
You can debate the whole “cultural relevance” of music all day long, but what gets me is those who gushed about how “meaningful” the grunge & alternative bands’ music was. It might have been, but saying such implies to me that all the music that came along before was just meaningless commercial crap. Such an implication would only be helped along by the discounting of the ’80s heavy metal, and that pisses me off too. I have spoken before about how certain of those bands delved into meatier subjects than getting drunk and laid. That would seem to me to be the furthest thing from meaningless commercial crap — even if, for example, Metallica’s Master of Puppets has sold six million copies.
At any rate, though, I am quite glad that the music survived all of that despite being discounted the way it was in the early ’90s — and that many of those bands are making (wait for it!) relevant and meaningful music today.