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Generation Y - Remember These? (Old School Alternative Vol. 1)
Generation X (people born between 1964 - 1980) tend to claim to have some of the best rock music ever made come about in their youth. Rolling Stones, AC/DC, The Who, and, of course, The Beatles just to name a few, climbed the charts, stole the airwaves, and redefined rock 'n roll as we know it today.
Those of us from Generation Y (people born between 1981 - about 2000) respect these bands and love to listen to them. However, our generation will forever be defined by the surgence and creation of grunge, alternative, alternative rock music, and even some of that new-age punk. Nirvana burst onto the scene with a vengeance with the release of their first album, Bleach, in 1989, and music blared from teenagers' radios has never been the same since. Yes, yes, you had influential artists outside those genres such as Britney Spears, the boy bands, Ludacris...but a lot of those types of artists will always be around. As for grunge and alternative, it is unfortunately starting to die off.
Generation Y - remember how you had all that teenage angst all built-up inside, and you just felt like Kurt Cobain was the only one who understood? Remember sitting around with your friends chilling out to "Champagne Supernova" by Oasis? And what about dying to imitate (or maybe even going through with it) Blink 182's music video "All the Small Things?"
Why not have some nostalgia for the music that was purely of our generation? Songs that you may just have a memory for each one! Relive your childhood, teenage years, or maybe even some college years!
A few years ago, I created a collection of volumes entitled "Old School Alternative." There are 11 volumes, no song repeated, all between 1990 - 2003, and artists you may have even forgotten.
iTunes will become your best friend as you start to download these songs and let nostalgia take over.
This is Old School Alternative Volume 1 :
1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana
The possible anthem of Generation Y, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the opening track and lead single from the band's second album. Cobain did not begin to write it until a few weeks before recording started on Nirvana's album, Nevermind. The unexpected success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in late 1991 propelled Nevermind to the top of the charts at the start of 1992, an event often marked as the point where alternative rock entered the mainstream. Cobain came up with the song's title when his friend Kathleen Hanna, at the time the lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill, spray painted "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his wall. Since they had been discussing anarchism, punk rock, and similar topics, Cobain interpreted the slogan as having a revolutionary meaning. What Hanna actually meant, however, was that Cobain smelled like the deodorant Teen Spirit, which his then-girlfriend Tobi Vail wore. Cobain later claimed that he was unaware that it was a brand of deodorant until months after the single was released
2. "Shine" by Collective Soul
Album/Year: Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid/1994
It served as the lead single from their 1993 debut album Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid. "Shine" would remain the band's most well known song and a hallmark of 1990s alternative rock. Due to the song's lyrical themes, particularly the mention of "heaven", Collective Soul was often early on regarded as a Christian band. Frontman Ed Roland elaborated, "I remember around the time ["Shine" came out] getting into an argument with a writer who said, 'You're a Christian band.' I said, 'No, we're not.' 'Well, you have the word heaven in your song.' And I said, 'Well, so does Led Zeppelin. I don't remember anyone saying they were a Christian band.'"
3. "I Will Buy You a New Life" by Everclear
Album/Year: So Much for the Afterglow/1998
A rock band formed in Portland, Oregon in 1992, Everclear is best known for their radio hits spanning more than a decade. "I Will Buy You a New Life" peaked at number three on the Hot Modern Rock Track chart, number 20 on the Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks chart, and number 31 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart in Billboard magazine.
4. "Counting Blue Cars" by Dishwalla
Album/Year: Pet Your Friends/1996
Dishwalla is an American alternative rock band based out of Santa Barbara, California. The band's name comes from a Hindi term for a person providing cable television to a neighborhood; a term they found from an article in the magazine, Wired. "Counting Blue Cars" was Dishwalla's only hit song, making it onto the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996. The song is recognizable by the line in the chorus, "Tell me all your thoughts on God ('cause I'd really like to meet her)."
5. "The Dolphin's Cry" by Live
Album/Year: The Distance to Here/1999
The Distance to Here is Live's fourth studio album, and "The Dolphin's Cry" is the opening track. Lead singer, Ed Kowalczyk with his signature shaved head, dominates this track with amazing vocals and lyrics.
6. "Better Man" by Pearl Jam
Did you think out of all 11 volumes I would not have some Pearl Jam? Although people love to hate this band, you cannot mention '90's alternative/grunge without talking about Pearl Jam. You love them or you hate them, but either way you cannot deny their influence. Eddie Vedder's voice is extremely recognizable, and "Better Man" was no exception to the hits after hits coming from Pearl Jam in the early to mid-1990s. Despite the lack of a commercial single release, the song managed to reach the top of the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it spent a total of eight weeks at number one. Eddie Vedder wrote the song back when he was in high school: "Sometimes I think of how far I've come from the teenager sitting on the bed in San Diego writing "Better Man" and wondering if anyone would ever even hear it."
7. "Black Balloon" by Goo Goo Dolls
Album/Year: Dizzy Up the Girl/1999
Third single off their 1998 album, Dizzy Up the Girl; most of us will remember the artful black and white music video that accompanied it. However, the subject matter was more sensitive than the video led on: According to the band's front man, Johnny Rzeznik, it is about a woman with a heroin addiction and how her lover is desperately trying to save her. He has also said that it is about "seeing someone you love that is so great just screw up so bad." Speculation as to the song's subject has included bassist Robby Takac's ex-wife (who overdosed on heroin).
8. "Stellar" by Incubus
Album/Year: Make Yourself/2000
Incubus has received both critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching multi-platinum sales, as well as releasing several highly successful singles. Their mellow music with interludes of rock have made Incubus a crowd favorite for years. "Stellar" is the second single from their third album, Make Yourself. The song is one of the band's most successful reaching #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks.
9. "Higher" by Creed
Album/Year: Human Clay/1999
Being one of the most mainstream alternative/post-grunge rock bands of all time, Creed began to get the title of "sell out" amongst alternative/post-grunge music fans. Scott Stapp's undeniably distinguishable raspy voice and rocking guitar riffs, Creed caught the ears of listeners even outside the usual fan base. But, you have to mention them and respect their influence on 1990s alternative/rock music. "Higher" is the first single released from Creed's 1999 album, Human Clay. The song was written after Stapp used Lucid Dreaming to stop a recurring nightmare he had been experiencing in which he was pursued and killed by a gunman. In the dream, he would turn left at the end of a highway and hide under a bridge, only to be found by his assailant and shot. When he had studied Lucid Dreaming and tried the technique, he was able to turn right and escape the gunman. Stapp stated that after he wrote the lyrics, he never had the dream again.
10. "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies
It is one of the band's signature songs. The song hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and, fittingly, spent one week at #1. Ed Robertson, lead vocal on rapped verses, decided the concept should be the structure of a fight where the protagonist knows they are wrong and is just trying to save face. Bandmate, Steven Page, suggested he simply improvise the rap as the two commonly did onstage every night. Robertson heeded the advice and set up a video camera. He improvised the song at a slower pace to make rhyming easier and arrived at about four minutes of rap. He sent it to Page who told him not to change a word. Two minutes of the improvising was almost directly compiled (with very little, if any, tweaking) into the verses of the song. As it is improvised, it is not intended to directly have any relation to the plot of the chorus sections.
11. "Say It Ain't So" by Weezer
Written by front man, Rivers Cuomo, the song came to be after he had all the music finished and one line, "Say it ain't so". Cuomo made a connection to an incident in high school where he came home and saw a bottle of beer in the fridge. He believed his mother and father's marriage ended because his father was an alcoholic and this made him fear the marriage between his mother and step-father would end this way as well. It is the third single off their debut album, Weezer, and in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked "Say It Ain't So" #72 on "The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time."
12. "Everything You Want" by Vertical Horizon
Album/Year: Everything You Want/1999
This single reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 after a 21-week climb on July 15, 2000. "Everything You Want" is arguably Vertical Horizon's best-known single. Lead vocalist, Matt Scannell, has cited "Everything You Want" as a great example of honest songwriting and added, "I still experience joy singing it because I know it came from a true place." The song's main theme deals with unrequited love, which Scannell in a 2010 interview: "...I was in love with this girl, and she was just a broken person. She kept turning to everyone except me for love and acceptance, and I wanted so much to help her. I wanted to be the one to give her everything she wanted, but I couldn't. She just couldn't accept it from me, and it was that pain, that led me to creating the song."
13. "How's It Going to Be" by Third Eye Blind
Album/Year: Third Eye Blind/1997
Written by guitarist Kevin Cadogan and vocalist Stephan Jenkins, "How's It Going to Be" is the band's third best selling single. According to Jenkins, the song deals with the trauma of the ending of a relationship and how the transition from friends to acquaintances is a brutal one. Jenkins also said, "..the lyrics really came out...very quickly. It deals with a question that we ask ourselves whenever a relationship ends: What does that mean? What it means is that you are no longer intimate..."
14. "Inside Out" by Eve 6
Album/Year: Eve 6/1998
The band's name is a reference to The X-Files. Tony Fagenson (drummer), a fan of the show, suggested the name after seeing an episode entitled "Eve". The episode featured genetically engineered characters known as "Eves", for the females, and "Adams", for the males. The Eves were portrayed by Harriet Sansom Harris. One of these genetically engineered characters, named "Eve #6," made a remark about biting a guard's eyeball, which Fagenson thought merited "Eve 6" as a band name. This song was a big hit, managing to top the Modern Rock Tracks chart three times (for a combined total of four weeks at number one and nine weeks at number 2). It also reached #21 on the Hot 100 Airplay on the issue dated November 28, 1998.
15. "Give It Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album/Year: Blood Sugar Sex Magik/1991
While several radio stations originally refused to air the song because they felt it lacked melody, "Give It Away" went on to achieve international fame. It peaked at number one on the Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks in late 1991 and a year later charted inside the top seventy-five of the U.S. Hot 100 in the wake of the huge success of the record's second single "Under the Bridge". The lyrical meaning behind "Give It Away" is centered around the philosophy of selflessness and altruistic behavior.The song is titled after its most prevalent lyrical phrase "give it away", which is taken from an experience vocalist Anthony Kiedis had with his former girlfriend — punk rock singer Nina Hagen — in the early 1980s.Hagen was several years Kiedis' senior and became a role-model during his drug addiction to heroin: "she realized how young and inexperienced I was then, so she was always passing on gems to me, not in a preachy way, just by seizing on opportunities." Kiedis had never before experienced such an enlightening ideology on life. Growing up in Los Angeles he had always thought differently than Hagen; instead of giving material possessions away and being free thinking the vocalist believed one must take what they want as no one will provide for you. Instead, he now adopted Hagen's philosophy: "It was such an epiphany that someone would want to give me her favorite thing. That stuck with me forever..."
16. "Welcome to Paradise" by Green Day
Green Day was originally part of the punk scene at 924 Gilman Street in Berkley, California. Green Day was widely credited, alongside fellow California Punk bands Sublime, The Offspring and Rancid, with popularizing and reviving mainstream interest in punk rock in the United States. And as they started showing up on the airwaves, they started converting almost every alternative rock listener into a California Punk junkies. "Welcome to Paradise" was released as the second single from their debut major label album, Dookie. It was originally released on the band's second album, Kerplunk (1992) and was re-recorded for Dookie in 1994. The Dookie version was later included on their 2001 greatest hits album, International Superhits!
17. "The Distance" by Cake
Album/Year: Fashion Nugget/1996
The band came up with the name "Cake"; rather than referring to the foodstuff, the name is meant to be "like when something insidiously becomes a part of your life...[we] mean it more as something that cakes onto your shoe and is just sort of there until you get rid of it." "The Distance" was the second single from the band's second album, Fashion Nugget, and considered one of their most popular songs. It was written by the band's guitarist at the time, Greg Brown.
18. "Monkey Wrench" by Foo Fighters
Album/Year: The Colour and the Shape/1997
Foo Fighters formed in 1994 by Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl as a one-man project following the dissolution of his previous band. The band got its name from the UFOs and various aerial phenomena that were reported by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II, which were known collectively as foo fighters. "Monkey Wrench" 's blistering lyrics chronicled the 1997 disintegration of singer/song writer Dave Grohl's four year marriage to Jennifer Youngblood. The song spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart (now the Alternative Songs chart), topping out at number 9. Dave Grohl also directed the music video.
19. "It's My Life" by No Doubt
Album/Year: The Singles 1992 - 2003/2003
No Doubt recorded a cover version of the song (originally by British pop group, Talk Talk, in 1984) to promote their greatest hits album, The Singles 1992 - 2003. No Doubt were dubious about recording a cover and contemplated writing new material.However, they decided on "It's My Life" after rehearsing the song with producer Nellee Hooper, referring to it as a "feel good" song.The song was nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group at the 47th Grammy Awards.
Thought of a song or band that was not on this list? I'm sure you did! Don't worry though...probably on another volume.
Stay tuned. Old School Alternative Volume 2 will be posted in the near future.
In the meantime (...foreshadowing...?), enjoy Volume 1!