Saturday, September 13, 2008

Os Anos 90

During the 90s, we were always expecting that a new type of music would surge. It is so easy to look back in time and recognize this and that art movement, but what is the art movement in music we are going through now? - that was the question along the nineties. It is a challenge to recognize the movement while within it, just like identifying the right moment one's mind changes from consciousness into dreaming.

Now that the first decade of 2000 is beginning its end, one can see the nineties as past. And one should now be able to recognize its musical specificity. But the reality is: there was no such specificity. And this is perhaps why it was so difficult to identify its "art movement": because the 90s hadn't one.

So what were the 90s musically? At the same time there was not much of a particularity to it, the 90s was a decade of great music and a decade of unforgettable bands. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Oasis, The Offspring, Greenday, The Cranberries just to name a few.

And that was it: not so much of a new thing, but a lot of excellent music.

Of course there was grunge. But grunge was not so much a movement as it was an influence, a deep influence all across and deep through the nineties and until the nineties' end. The way to scratch a chord building up emotional energy right before the right moment to actually play it, moving from rhythmically violent chorus to another slow verse and then again to violence, alternating guitar and bass driven melodies, the bass side by side with the guitar: all of these appeared with and defined grunge and was present thereafter in the nineties. But it failed to survive the nineties just like flannel shirts.

And pure, true grunge was not much more beyond Nirvana. For instance, the typical second grunge reference, Pearl Jam, is actually an excellent American rock band, with of course a lot of retro, nostalgic and folk influences. From grunge, only the issues of social problematic mingled with seriously difficult teenagehood, etc..

But being new is not what matters in music. Being excellent suffices. The Doors are more than forty years old and are still excellent. And it is not because they were ahead of their time, no, it was because the time has never moved much on since Beatles and Doors. It is thus not that surprising that the nineties didn't move much the time either. But the fact there was a lot of excellent music is enough to say: the 90s were a great decade for music!

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