Last time I checked, it was 2012. Unless I have hallucinated an entire future for myself and it is still 1996 and I am still in college, in a coma or a really impressive drunken stupor.
I loved the 90s. They were so much better than the 80s for me. I graduated high school, lived away at college, and become a sort-of grown up. One of my favorite things about that time period was the music. In high school, I had the good fortune of making one of the coolest friends ever, who introduced me to the idea of alternative/college music and WFNX (and 120 Minutes on MTV!! Anyone? Oh.). It changed my life in the best way possible. I found a profound love of 80s new wave music, and this was also on the precipice of the Grunge movement, ushered in by Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” By the time I got to college, the music was amazing…Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, No Doubt, Soundgarden, Garbage and countless other bands you surely have never heard of. I have a theory that no matter who or where you are, the music that defined the best time of your life will always be the music you will gravitate to. Because 90s alternative was such an important part of my life, it is where I got “stuck” for a while. Granted, I like a lot of other music genres, and even went through an electronic phase in my post-college club days. But my music collection consisted mainly of CDs I had bought between the years of 1994 and 1998. My ex made fun of me endlessly for this, and I suppose it is a little bit pathetic. But, the music still makes me happy and always brings back good memories, so I shrug off criticism.
Living in LA, there are not a lot of great radio stations (this is always shocking to me). I’ve given up complaining about it and mostly just listen to KROQ, especially in the morning because I love their morning show. I’ve noticed recently that many of the bands from my hey day have put out new songs in the past few months. From what I’ve noticed, there are new songs by Soundgarden (decent), The Offspring (terrible), Garbage (ok from what I remember), and No Doubt (I despised it at first and now I can’t ever get it out of my head; I’m not sure if this makes me despise it more or means that there is a lame part of my subconscious that actually likes it). When the Soundgarden song came out, my first thought was, “What year is it?” When the Offspring song debuted, I thought, “No, seriously. What year is it?” Then the one-two punch of Garbage and No Doubt happened and I was seriously perplexed. Am I so old that I am now hip again? No, that cannot possibly be the case (not that I’m not that old, just that I can’t possibly be the hip one). The best I can figure is that these bands are “safe.” The music industry has changed so much in the last 10-15 years. Once people stopped buying CDs, record companies and radio stations were much less likely to take a chance on a band no one has ever heard of. It always astounds me how much great music there is out there, and how you have to dig around to find it (some people just seem to know where to get it, but I am not one of them; see previous statement about not being hip).
So, even 15 years after their peak in popularity, these bands of yesteryear still have a greater chance of getting radio play than an indie band that has a small following. Even though it should make me happy, and maybe make me feel validated that my music choices aren’t so pathetically outdated, it feels a little strange. Like we’ve all overstayed our welcome at the party. Or worse, are the 40-year-olds at a 20-something bash (I’m not 40 yet, that was a metaphor). I’m waiting for someone to complain about it and then it will all go away and we creatures of the 90s can go back into our angst-ridden caves. Until that happens, I guess I should just break out some Doc Martens, a plaid flannel shirt and unflatteringly dark lipstick and enjoy having a piece of my youth invade the present day…assuming that it is, in fact, 2012.