Interesting that you think that BSSM was a step down for RHCP...
Now, let's talk about Nirvana...
Hey Red! I love a good music chat. Doesn't matter if I agree or feel the polar opposite, I just enjoy yakkin' about music and learning more about it, even if it's just another person's opinion.
My first music awakening was hair bands in '83 (Motley, Def Lep, Van Halen, etc). I rode the wave of hairspray, high-pitched voices and leather pants for a few years, but started losing interest between '86 and '89 (due to some disappointing releases... like Twisted Sister's Come Out And Play, Quiet Riot's Condition Critical, Ratt's Dance and Van Halen's OU812).
In '89, I had my second music awakening, but it was two-fold. I discovered hip-hop (I only knew a dozen or two rap songs before '89) and I discovered alternative. Between '89 and '90, I fell hard for Cure, Depeche Mode, Pop Will Eat Itself, REM, Faith No More, Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction, Love And Rockets, Sisters Of Mercy, The Church and many more.
By fall of '91, when Nirvana started exploding, I was already part of the new rock revolution. Late '91 was when the fire (which had already been burning for a few years) turned into an inferno. And it wasn't just Nirvana. The 5 weeks before "Teen Spirit" hit #1 were preceeded by RHCP "Give It Away" and U2 "The Fly". The 5 weeks after it were owned by U2 "Mysterious Ways". Blood Sugar Sex Magick and Achtung Baby were just as influential in changing the music scene. And Jane's Addiction, Faith No More and Nine Inch Nails had changed it quite a bit already.
It's true that Nirvana took a small underground punk-becomes-grunge movement and blasted it on a rocket ship into the mainstream. Bands like Tad, Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Hole were already establishing the underground alt-punk sound (I'm no expert in this area, so there are probably better examples), but Nirvana really kicked the door open and took this sound from the 300 max occupancy club to the stadium.
As for RHCP, they were one of the late '91 bands to blow the roof off during that alternative explosion. But for me, I discovered them in the summer of '89. "Fight Like A Brave" was one of the most important songs of my second musical awakening (alongside "Personal Jesus", "Fascination Street", "Epic", "So Alive" and "Down In It"). I bought Uplift Mofo Party Plan and listened to it like it was my new religion. It had actually come out 2 years earlier, so suddenly, a few months later - BAM! Their new album Mother's Milk came out. "Knock Me Down" knocked my socks off. I bought that album immediately and RHCP became my anti-spandex rock saviour. They were my first rock concert ever - May 1990 at a college here in New Hampshire. At a time when my friends were talking about seeing Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Poison and Ozzy, I couldn't have cared less. "Show Me Your Soul" dropped in 1990, yet another amazing song. Up to that point, they could do no wrong.
In '91, "Give It Away" hit MTV. A friend of mine called me and said, "Hey that band you like has a new song" and put the phone up to the speaker. I wasn't impressed. So repetitive. Then "Under The Bridge" dropped. What? Who killed my socks-on-the-cock, "Party On Your Pussy", "Organic Anti-Beat Box Band" and replaced them with this? Then came "Breaking The Girl". I still skip that song to this day. Then came "Soul To Squeeze". Talk about your adult contemporary track. I don't mind it, but damn... what happened?
Eventually I did get the album, and I do like it (even "Under The Bridge"). But it really was the beginning of the end. Over-produced. Repetitive songs I get tired of listening to 2 minutes into. Songs I completely skip (like "They're Red Hot" and "Breaking The Girl"). I never ever skipped songs on Uplift Mofo Party Plan or Mother's Milk.
Anyhoo, that's how I saw the 90s unfold for what it's worth. I've heard a lot of people (not you specifically) say "Nirvana changed everything in an instant" - as if the day before "Teen Spirit" dropped, we were all happily bopping along to Roxette, Skid Row and Richard Marx, and then within 24 hours BAM we were all wearing flannel and burning our Winger cassettes. The revolution had started much earlier.
I can't really follow sadchild's post, because I agree with most of what he said (maybe not the RHCP parts, but, again, I've always had a soft spot for 90's RHCP). So I won't follow it.
Cracker - Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now) When Was It #1?: May 9th-May 16th, 1992
Here's the thing about this song: It's Cracker's biggest hit on Alt, their only #1 hit...and yet, I'm actually not quite as familiar with 'Teen Angst" as I am with their other big hit. "Low" is a song that I've listened to surprisingly more than I would have expected (whether by choice or because I heard it all the time when I would actually listen to the radio on the regular), whereas "Teen Angst" didn't stick around with me in the same way. I'm not trying to brush off "Teen Angst" as a bad song or even an unmemorable song, far from it. It's just that "Low" was always the song that connected with me more. Listening to this song again to review it, I found myself feeling about the same as I ever have with "Teen Angst": A solid song, but nothing that really sticks with me. Again, I have to stress that I really do like this song, quite a bit...but it's no "Low".
The Charlatans - Weirdo When Was It #1?: May 23rd, 1992
I thought that I was more familiar with "Weirdo" going into this review than I actually was. I must have thought it was another song. Huh. "Weirdo" is an interesting case, too, as it's a rarity post-Nirvana: A true blue Madchester song getting to the top. I know that I talked about "Smells Like Teen Spirit" being an atom bomb of a song, but it really hit the mainstream scene way harder at first. It took a little moe time for Alt to fully come on board, and songs like "Weirdo" were still fully capable of reaching the top, even if, in this song's case, it was only #1 for a week. It's...fine, one of the better songs of its type that I've listened to for these reviews, but I'm kind of just over just about anything and everything Madchester. I wonder if this is how some felt at the time.
XTC - The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead When Was It #1?: May 30th-June 6th, 1992
Okay, real talk: I had completely forgotten that XTC had another Alt #1. I thought that "The Mayor of Simpleton" was as good as it got Stateside for XTC, but, as it turns out, "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" was ALSO a #1 hit for one of the more underappreciated bands of their era. Unlike "Simpleton", which I thought was okay, but not anything great, I actually really like "Pumpkinhead". It's just a nice song about a man who spreads a positive message and is very popular...except with the people that actually matter, and he's axed off by those government figures that despise him. Good old fashioned fun, this song is! I wouldn't put this in the same stratosphere as "Senses Working Overtime", but it's closer than "Simpleton" was to reaching that level, at least.
The Cure - Friday I'm In Love When Was It #1?: June 13th-July 4th, 1992
Like I said....this was a pretty strong era, singles-wise, for The Cure. I adore "High", it's one of my favorite singles of theirs...but I can't help but fall in love with "Friday I'm In Love", too. It's just such a happy song that it's hard to escape. It can help to brighten even the darkest of days with its joy and very positive vibe. These are not words that I always associate with The Cure, but I absolutely do here. Despite all of the happiness, there is some sadness to be found here, though not really with "Friday I'm In Love" itself. This is the final #1 of The Cure on Alt. They would continue to be a presence on Alt radio after this, but, as far as being at the top of the mountain is concerned, this is it for Robert Smith. *sniff* It's been nice having you guys around, at least for a little while.
The B-52's - Good Stuff When Was It #1?: July 11th-August 1st, 1992
For the B-52's, life at the top of the Alt chart was to prove to be fleeting. After the smash success of Cosmic Thing and the big singles off of that album, they had to follow it up with something. What we got was Good Stuff, which...well, it was an album, to be sure, but I'm not sure how much more I can say about it beyond that. The problem with Good Stuff is that it had to follow such a massive album, and it just couldn't hope to do that. They did try to follow it with the title track, "Good Stuff", which would be their last gasp at the top of the Alt chart. "Good Stuff" feels like it could have fit in on Cosmic Thing pretty well, which makes me think that perhaps it would have been a better idea to re-release Cosmic Thing with this song and left the rest of Good Stuff on the cutting room floor. As it is, this is your standard fun B-52's tune, though not quite on the level of their big #1s from their previous album.
As for what happened after Good Stuff for the B-52's...though they wouldn't release an album for a long time after this, they did do some stuff that helped them to stay relevant. For example, they did the theme song for the movie version of The Flintstones. That was a minor hit. They also performed a reworked version of the Rocko's Modern Life theme song, putting them forever in my hearts for all eternity. Out of nowhere, they released a surprisingly fun comeback album in 2008, which...as a final farewell, would be a fine sendoff, but, man, it also left me wanting more B-52's, too. Don't leave me hanging, guys. Surely, you have one more album in you.
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis When Was It #1?: August 8th, 1992
I FINALLY GET TO TALK ABOUT FAITH NO MORE. It took four years, but we finally got to this point. Faith No More are actually one of the most important bands of their era. How important are Faith No More in the grand scheme of things? Krist Novoselic once claimed that FNM "paved the way for Nirvana". THAT'S how important they are. Without Faith, there's a good chance that nu-metal doesn't become a thing. You may think that's not a bad thing, but we may not have gotten the likes of Deftones and System of a Down if not for FNM, too. Without Faith No More, there's no telling just how many bands would not exist.
So, what was their lone Alt #1? It wasn't their most popular song, "Epic". It wasn't "Easy". It was that song you may have heard while playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, though. "Midlife Crisis", to me, is Faith No More. I love Faith No More, so that pretty much makes "Midlife Crisis" an easy recommendation. If I were to pick one song that describes who Faith No More are, it would be "Midlife Crisis" (or maybe "The Real Thing"...and here comes Green to prove me wrong!). I'd go one step further: If you really put me to the test and ask me what my favorite Faith No More song is, I'd probably go with this. Key word "probably". That answer could change on any given day.
Wowzers. I just stepped into a time machine and landed in 1992. It's alright, but man is it dated!
XTC - The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
I wish I had listened to XTC more back in the 90s instead of being a casual fan then, and a bigger fan now.
Cure - Friday I'm In Love
My fav band of all time. As a superfan, I think they have better songs, but no denying "Friday" is alt-pop-rock perfection.
B-52's - Good Stuff
The first time I heard this song, within 30 seconds I thought "well, I guess it's pretty much over for them." Felt too contrived. "Okay everybody let's record Love Shack part two!!"
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
I was ahead of the curve with The Real Thing. I had exhausted "Epic" (and the whole album) in early 1990 long before "Epic" became a huge summer hit that year. But for Angel Dust, however, I was behind the curve. I ran out and bought it, being the superfan of FNM I was, but I was pretty lukewarm to it. After it gathered dust (ba-dum tish) in my collection, I gave it another shot a couple years later and saw it for the genius it is.
Oh, what's that? You thought this was dead? PLEASE. Nothing is dead until I say it's dead.
Morrissey - Tomorrow When Was It #1?: August 15th-September 19th, 1992
We start this update with the longest-reigning #1 of 1992. You may be thinking that this isn't true, that "Mysterious Ways" is the actual #1 king of 1992, but that's not really true. "Mysterious Ways" was a long-running #1, sure, but only five of its nine weeks at #1 were in 1992. Meanwhile, "Tomorrow" was #1 for six weeks and gets the crown and the title of "#1 Kingpin" for 1992. I'm sure that Mr. Morrissey will treasure that crown. This is pretty much a Morrissey song. Part of the reason I've struggled to update this is because I just don't really have a lot to say about "Tomorrow". It's a solid Morrissey song that doesn't wear out its welcome in its four minutes.
Peter Gabriel - Digging in the Dirt When Was It #1?: September 26th-October 3rd, 1992
I imagine that I would have talked about Peter Gabriel by now if the Alternative chart had been around a couple of years prior to its inception. Gabriel would have been a great fit in the mid-80's, and he proved to be a chameleon by being able to adjust to the 90's really well. This is especially apparent on "Digging in the Dirt", where Gabriel is able to combine both his So sensibility with the darker and grittier tones of the 90's. When you're as talented as Peter Gabriel, time doesn't move around you. Time moves FOR you. With its groovy instrumental and Gabriel's distinct vocal style, "Digging in the Dirt" is absolutely a winner, and a song that has held up pretty damn well in the last 25 years.
Suzanne Vega - Blood Makes Noise When Was It #1?: October 10th, 1992
Suzanne Vega had an Alt #1. I had actually completely forgotten about that fact, but it's true. When Vega released 99.9F° in 1992, it was two years after the DNA remix of "Tom's Diner" skyrocketed up the charts. How does Suzanne herself respond? With "Blood Makes Noise", which decidedly follows the direction laid out for Vega by DNA. Vega takes her signature style and melds it with dance tendencies, which could have been a disaster in lesser hands, but not so much here. As with "Digging in the Dirt", the tight groove is what makes the song, and I find it interesting that the latest two #1s both share that common strength. The next #1, meanwhile, does not let its groove define it...
R.E.M. - Drive When Was It #1?: October 17th-November 14th, 1992
Out of all of these reviews, this is one of the ones I've struggled with the most. It's not because I've been torn on the quality of the song itself. "Drive" is a great song, one of R.E.M.'s better efforts. My real issue is talking about the song itself. So many other people have talked about "Drive" and have done a better job of talking about the song than I can. "Drive" is the kind of song that sneaks up on you and makes you take notice of it after a while. I went back and listened to the song for this review thread, and, honestly, I can't stop thinking about it. It's gnawing at me all over again, and I first listened to the song years ago. This is the kind of song that will stand the test of time for years to come.
An update? Less than two weeks after the most recent one? Pshaw!
10,000 Maniacs - These Are Days When Was It #1?: November 21st-November 28th, 1992
I've said in the past that I prefer 10,000 Maniacs to Natalie Merchant's solo career, and I still stand by that. "These Are Days" is not really one of the reasons for that, but it's still a solid song. Is this their cover of "Because the Night"? Not really. It's a nice song, though, with a nice, sweet vocal performance from Merchant and a sound that would have been successful at any point in the 90's. I mean, Natalie Merchant's solo career is proof positive that this song would have been a big hit. Nice, solid, but not the best example of what 10,000 Maniacs were capable of. Also, I thought this was a much bigger hit. It only peaked at #66 on the Hot 100. That's interesting, because I remember it being everywhere in the 90's.
Soul Asylum - Somebody to Shove When Was It #1?: December 5th, 1992
Soul Asylum have two Alt #1s. Neither one of them is their biggest hit. "Misery" was a pretty big hit, but "Somebody to Shove" is no "Runaway Train" in terms of success. And yet, it did something that Soul Asylum's signature song didn't: Hit #1 on a rock chart. This is a song that I wasn't really familiar with before listening to it for the purpose of reviewing it for this thread...and, I have to say, wow. This might very well be my favorite discovery thanks to this thread so far. This thing kicks ass, with a ferocious main riff and a strong, catchy chorus. I was not prepared for this, honestly, I really wasn't. These are the kind of songs that make this whole review thread worth doing. We'll talk about their other Alt #1 when we get to it, but I don't remember EVER having quite the same positive reaction as I did for "Somebody to Shove" on first (and second...and third...and fourth...) listen.
Peter Gabriel - Steam When Was It #1?: December 12th, 1992-January 9th, 1993
Now, you want to talk about a song that I WAS familiar with before I started this thread? Allow me to introduce you to the wonder that is the music video for Peter Gabriel's "Steam". I mean...JUST LOOK AT THAT VIDEO! I know that this was cutting edge and innovative at the time, but it has not aged well. The song definitely has aged pretty well, but that's because "Steam" is basically "Sledgehammer, But Performed in the 90's". I'll gladly take a retread of one of my favorite songs of the 1980's, but that does limit its potential in terms of reviewing it for this thread. "Digging in the Dirt" stands out in comparison to "Steam" because it is its own song and doesn't feel like a retread. Because of that, I have to give "Steam" a lower ranking. But I did enjoy the song quite a bit all the same, and it's a solid song to help ease us into 1993.
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Not Sleeping Around When Was It #1?: January 16th, 1993
Welcome to 1993, everyone! Here's a band with only one Alt top ten hit. I'm really digging what Ned's Atomic Dustbin have to offer here on "Not Sleeping Around". It almost feels like a rougher around the edges take on the "Madchester" scene, complete with a surprisingly complex instrumental. It's energetic and fun in all of the right ways, a song that definitely sounds of its time, but also a song that wouldn't have been too out of place in other eras. Fun fact: Did you know that these guys covered "Saturday Night"?THAT "Saturday Night?" Because I did not.
I think over five months is long enough, don't you?
Jesus Jones - The Devil You Know When Was It #1?: January 23rd-February 27th, 1993
Here's something crazy for you: Not only did Jesus Jones have another #1 after "Right Here, Right Now", it was a BIGGER hit on the Alt chart...by a week, but still! And let's just get to the elephant in the room immediately: I like "The Devil You Know" more than "Right Here, Right Now". I like the Middle Eastern vibe that hangs over this song more than whatever vibe "Right Here, Right Now" was going for, and the vocals of Mike Edwards don't bother me nearly as much as they do on Jesus Jones' biggest hit. Do I really, REALLY enjoy this song? Not really, but, again, I like it more than "Right Here, Right Now", and that does matter. And so ends the ballad of Jesus Jones as #1 hitmakers. They'd have one more charting hit before disappearing from Alt radio. In fact, outside of a couple of minor hits on their followup album to the album this song is on, Perverse, they wouldn't really have any hits *anywhere* after this.
Belly - Feed the Tree When Was It #1?: March 6th-March 20th, 1993
Belly, founded by Tanya Donelly, had two top ten hits on the Alt chart. The first was their debut single, "Gepetto". The followup, however, is the one people tend to remember from this band, "Feed the Tree". "Feed the Tree" is a pretty enjoyable song and a refreshing change of pace compared to the songs that preceded it. I mean, sure, I like uptempo songs as much as the next person, but midtempo songs are fine by me, too, and this one hits a nice little sweet spot that I had been lacking before. The next couple of songs that I'm going to review follow a much different path than "Feed the Tree", but it's nice to get a glimpse of the near future as early as March 1993.
Depeche Mode - I Feel You When Was It #1?: March 27th-April 24th, 1993
This is the review that I've been sitting on and have been avoiding for five months...and, for the life of me, I can't think of the reason why that is the case. "I Feel You" is classic Depeche Mode, a song I've loved for years, and yet, I've been worried that I'll have nothing to say about the song. It's a song released at perhaps the toughest time for Depeche Mode themselves, and especially Dave Gahan, but I thought I'd have nothing to say here. Here's something that I didn't know before doing this review: "I Feel You" might be their best charting song worldwide. It was #1 in Spain and Finland, #2 in Sweden, #4 in Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, #5 in France, top ten in the UK...I knew this song was a hit, but I didn't realize it was THAT big of a hit. "I Feel You" doesn't really sound like a "hit" song in the conventional sense, but that's the power Depeche Mode had at the time. They could make hits appear out of thin air, and "I Feel You" is no exception. Surprise: I really like this Depeche Mode song. I am nothing if not predictable.
New Order - Regret When Was It #1?: May 1st-May 8th and May 22nd-June 12th, 1993
Let's end this slate of reviews with the #1 Alt song of 1993, and the song that Peter Hook claimed was the "last good New Order song". Here's a fun fact: Did you know this song was performed for a Top of the Pops performance in Venice Beach? And that the performance was part of a BAYWATCH episode? The things you learn when you read Wikipedia articles...but I'm getting too off topic. "Regret" surprised me. I had heard the song before and I didn't really pay much attention to it before, so when I decided to re-listen to it for this review thread, I wasn't expecting all that much. After re-listening to it, I'm trying to remember when exactly I listened to the song before, because I may have been high on some sort of substance to suggest that this song wasn't very good. This is a really, REALLY good song, one of New Order's best, and it shames me to think that I didn't think this song was all that special at one point. That's a bad Red.
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