When Kurt Cobain died in April 1994, the grunge movement expired, too, giving way to a broader spectrum of angry, bummed out rock that came to be defined as “alternative” (even though it may very well have been the dominant rock of the mid to late 90s). A landmark year for music in many ways, 1994 brought debuts, breakouts, and/or essential recordings from bands like Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Oasis, Nine Inch Nails, Bush, Hole, Weezer, and The Offspring, amongst others.
And while many of these artists could easily fill an episode of the podcast all on their own, the fact that so many essential albums were released in a single calendar year made it impossible for us to keep ‘em separated.
Rewind 25 years back to the past to rediscover some of the 90s most iconic tracks, from Beck’s “Loser” to Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” to see which 1994 breakouts have stood the test of time. If you loved alternative music in the 90s, then welcome to paradise!
I owned none of the albums we spoke about on this episode. I was too young to buy them in 1994 when they were new, and the songs I liked were on heavy rotation on the radio by the time I did listen to alternative music. Beck’s “Loser,” Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” Stone Temple Pilots’ “Big Empty,” The Offspring’s “Self Esteem,” all of Weezer’s debut singles, all of Bush’s Sixteen Stone singles, and all of Green Day’s Dookie singles in particular were major staples in the soundtrack to my teenage years. (Thanks to 107.7 The End!)
I did, however, own later albums by these artists — Beck’s Midnite Vultures, Stone Temple Pilots’ Tiny Music (Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop) and No. 4, Green Day’s Nimrod and Warning, The Offspring’s Americana, and Weezer’s Pinkerton. Most of these, I liked a lot. So discussing 1994 breakouts encompassed a very large portion of the artists whose music shaped my formative years, while also being far back enough that I learned about what I’d missed, too. (I’d be much more knowledgeable about the alternative music of 1997, 1998, or 1999, when most of these artists were still producing hits.)
I’ll leave you with the 5 tracks I find most essential from these 1994 albums.
- “Loser” – Beck
- “Closer” – Nine Inch Nails
- “Longview” – Green Day
- “Come Out And Play” – The Offspring
- “Glycerine” – Bush