Did ’90s Pop Really Suck?

Just stumbled on a blog that claims: Some people have called the 1990s the worst period ever for Pop Music. Others think it is too soon to tell.

Then I watched a little Hanson and found myself agreeing. Maybe that’s because so much energy was going into “alternative” music, so pop was really the dregs? Now it seems like there’s just one mass, with indie being more or less in the same world.

Anyway, I’ll say it again: pop music now is really good. I mean, Drake, B.o.B., La Roux, Nicki Minaj . . . they all blow Ace of Base and Boyz II Men out of the water.



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11 responses to “Did ’90s Pop Really Suck?

  1. Artists like The Lemonheads (at least their 90s stuff) and Julianna Hatfield came close to pop, but were promoted as alt-rock.

  2. robin

    It’s not entirely clear how you are defining “pop”. Is it a stylistic qualifier (i.e., lyric- and melody-centric verse-chorus-verse type songs, such as Hanson), or an index of popularity (i.e., X artist sold lots of records, got lots of airplay, or got lots of hype)?

    I ask b/c many of the “pop” artists (Minaj, Ace of Base, La Roux, etc.) are in fact appropriating 90s styles that, while popular in the latter sense (I’m thinking mainly house and its variants) aren’t and “pop” in the former sense.

    That said, if we take pop in the latter sense, I totally disagree with you! The 90s gave us all those pop (and acid, for you brits) house hits from Dee-Lite, Technotronic, the KLF (who were hugely popular in the UK), Black Box, etc etc.

  3. Wouldn’t all the pop music of the ’90s be so much better if they had just put a motherfucking donk on it?

  4. Jenny

    In the ’90s there was much more crossover between alternative and mainstream than there is now (or ever was before). Top 40 radio was filled with Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. The climate was such that people like Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette could be big pop stars. That would never happen today (or if it did, the stars would be pale imitations that were directly referencing those named).

    By the way, I LOVE this blog, I’m a huge 90s nostalgia junkie and not just for grunge and riot grrrl. One of my favorite things about the 90s is the total crossover of mainstream and alternative. It made the mainstream suck less, because it became infused with values that formerly were purely alternative. It made (relative) interestingness accessible and ubiquitous. It made being a girl, yet not always smiling, into an unremarkable phenomenon.

    That said, I also love deeply cheesy 90s pop that could never be called anything but pop in a million years. I probably love it mostly for the nostalgia factor. Things like “Close to You” by Fun Factory, “Ooh Ahh….Just a Little Bit” by Gina G, “C’mon N Ride It (The Train)” by Quad City DJs. I was a shameless early-20something then, indulgently riding the wave of cultural crossover that was enjoying a perfect moment. It was the period of life just before I became a hipster (are you allowed to say that? let’s just say, before I became steeped in “indie” cultural touchstones) and was an odd mixture of coffeehouse poet, college geek girl, and mallrat. I actually wore the Victoria’s Secret Tranquil Breezes body lotion that is name-checked in “C’mon N Ride It,” and that line makes me smile to this day.

  5. I agree with Robin that this is a hard question, because it depends on how you define “pop.” But the 90s had Madonna, Prince, TLC, Sinead O’Connor, REM, Jay-Z, Nirvana, Fugees, No Doubt…. Also, I like MMMBop! I think pop music is great now, too, but still love my 90s pop–Kara

  6. mmm

    90’s pop was alternative music. something, as stated before, could never happen today. i mean it’s really interesting how there was so much more substance then as opposed to today? like it’s really incredible how fucking vapid the 2000’s was and continues to be. anyway, pop/radio/top 40 stuff these days is actually really good, there seems to be alot more electro/hardhitting techno beats in today’s pop than there ever was before

  7. Dawn.

    First of all, when I say pop, I mean popular music, not a particular style. If we’re talking pop as style, that’s completely different.

    With that in mind, I think 2000-2010 was the worst decade for pop music. I mean really? The even more apparent commercialization and rapid decline of social critiques in pop music has been really nauseating. Don’t even get me started with the pop princesses and boy bands (yes, I liked them, I was 12-13) that started gathering serious steam in 1999-2000. It has been effed up.

    Maybe I think this because 2000-2010 was my “teenage” decade (13-23 years old) so I’m acutely aware of how shitty it was. I prefer ’90s music, clearly. 🙂

  8. Dawn.

    P.S. To summarize my feelings since that was way long: I’ll take Nirvana over The Jonas Brothers any day.

  9. Pingback: mikkipedia » Blog Archive » Team Hanson

  10. I do love this blog! Even though my English’s not good enough to fully appreciate it.
    (ok, this is not a comment to the post, actually. Anyway, I just put a link to it, somewhere in Facebook)

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