Well, it’s been about a year since I started writing for Culture Crossfire. It’s been an awesome run so far, don’t you think? The very first article I ever submitted for this website was about memorable albums and music moments from 1993. In honor of that piece, I’m going to make all you readers feel even older and talk about music from 1994. Once again, if you don’t feel old about 1994 being 20 years ago now, you will be after reading this article.
Once the single, “Longview” hit the airwaves, Green Day were on their way to the top. The hit track was off the west coast pop/punkers’ breakthrough album, 1994’s “Dookie”. From other cuts that became staples of the decade like “When I Come Around” and “Basket Case” to even the lesser known tracks on the CD like the opener, “Burnout”, and closer, “F.O.D.”, this was one of the key albums that fueled the rock scene with teenage aggression throughout the 1990s. It went on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide and solidified Green Day as a household name. While still relatively young men, the band have been around as a cohesive unit for over 20 years selling out arenas everywhere.
I was a massive Green Day fan in middle and most of high school. I still enjoy their first few records but am not the massive fan I was when I was younger. One simply cannot deny the power of “Dookie” though.
Pearl Jam’s “Ten” dropped in 1990. Nirvana’s “Nevermind” came after in ‘91 followed by Alice In Chains’ “Dirt” in 1992. The collection of essential albums by the “Big Four” of grunge was completed by the release of Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” in 1994. Now some fans that will argue that Soundgarden’s previous album, 1991’s “Badmotorfinger” is actually the band’s signature record and while I love songs like “Jesus Christ Pose” and “Outshined”, it just didn’t enjoy the same wide acceptance and critical recognition that the latter got. The LP clocks in at just over 70 minutes but packs a punch with every single track. Now onto the information to make you feel like you’re one day from the old folks home: It was just 20 years ago when “Black Hole Sun” quickly became one of the most popular songs of the 90’s and one of the easiest chorus’ to memorize. The wickedly addictive “Spoonman” proved the record had staying power beyond the lead single. I remember hearing that song in my youth and wondering who sang it. The lyric “All my friends are Indians/All my friend are brown and red” led me to believe it was sung by some Native American themed group. I also wasn’t the brightest kid.
Superb tracks like “My Wave”, “Fell on Black Days”, “The Day I Tried To Live” and “4th of July” remain fixtures on the Seattle rockstars’ live setlist to this day.
Author’s note: The songs “Head Down” and “Kickstand” were used in a short film I made for my directing class back in college The genius of Superunknown thrives on in a crappy, black-and-white short from 2007!
It seems like I talk about Nine Inch Nails a lot when I write about music. They just seem to fit a lot of the content I write about whether it’s classic albums, cover songs, or movie scores. I also witnessed a lot of their milestones growing up.
Nine Inch Nails gained a following in the late 80’s with their debut album, “Pretty Hate Machine” but it was their 1994 record, “The Downward Spiral” that blew them up. Trent Reznor and his cohorts put together a 14-track album mixing elements of metal and industrial that made you bang your head as much as help you mellow out. The video for the song, “Closer” was a breakthrough for the group but was edited pretty heavily for MTV rotation due to its graphic use of sexual and religious themes. The album’s closing track, “Hurt” ends the LP on a spooky note and was later covered by the late Johnny Cash (which cover is better? Check out my article on cover songs (HERE).
The album peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 200 and sold millions of copies worldwide cementing Trent Reznor’s legacy in the music business. It’s amazing to think that 17 years later, Reznor would win an academy award for his work on the 2010 film, “The Social Network”.
The Offspring is a band me and a lot of people thought they’d grow out of when they got older. Well, we didn’t and we still love them. A lot of fans may know the band from their anti-poser radio smash, “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)”, in 1998 but the California rockers’ success actually launched four prior in 1994. The group dropped their trademark record, “Smash” which included the singles, “Self-Esteem”, “Come Out And Play”, and “Gotta Get Away”. The album’s music is harder hitting than anything the band releases today and its lyrical content is much more raw with numbers like the profanity laced “Bad Habit” and the title track. A song that doesn’t get enough love in my opinion is “Genocide” but I’m sure glad to have heard it performed live when I saw the Offspring in 2009. In my mind, “Come Out And Play” is the group’s finest and I’ll never get tired of hearing it. It was the only single off the album to reach number one on the Billboard’s Modern Rock charts. 20 years ago. Yikes.
I suppose you could also credit The Offspring, along with Green Day and maybe Rancid, for bringing the “punk” (God I hate that word) scene to the mainstream.
Your favorite rappers from Brooklyn, the Beastie Boys, were always known for their tongue-in-cheek humor. I remember first seeing the video for “Sabotage” (directed by Spike Jonze) and thought it was a trailer for some Naked Gun-type film. The music got me jumpin’ though and that classic piece of hip-hop can be found on the Beasties’ 1994 record, “Ill Communication”. When doing research, I was surprised myself to see that the album was released in 1994. For some reason, I thought it to be released sometime in the late 90’s. The fun doesn’t stop at “Sabotage” though as “Sure Shot” was another gram slam for the trio. I was always partial to “Root Down” myself. Like their previous album, “Check Your Head”, the Beasties utilized guitars, bass, and drums to fill the sound of the record.
The use of these instruments as well as their talents succeeded in making yet another hit record as “Ill Communication” peaked at number one in the Billboard Top 200.
Jeff Buckley was really one of a kind. The son of noted musician, Tim Buckley, Jeff followed in his father’s footsteps and became a musician himself. He possessed a truly powerful and amazing voice that wasn’t heard quite like that in some time. With music in his gene, he parlayed that scintillating soprano into his debut album, “Grace”, in 1994. The most famous song (and generally the most well known Jeff Buckley song in general) off the recording was his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Like Cash’s cover of “Hurt”, Buckley’s version is a bit darker but shows off his impressive range as a vocalist. His talent shines even more on such songs as “So Real” and “Mojo Pin” and I defy anyone who doesn’t get the courage to sing their hearts off while listening to “Corpus Christi Carol”. Buckley’s freshman effort was met with many accolades and critical acclaim from publications such as Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly.
Sadly, this would be Buckley’s only studio album as he died in 1997 from an accidental drowning. Like his father, he died young but his influence can be heard in the sounds of generations to come.
Rivers Cuomo. Love him or hate him, he helped his band,Weezer, become arguably the alt-rock kings of the 90’s. They claimed their throne in (guess what year…) 1994 with their self-titled debut record, known to fans worldwide as “The Blue Album”. The record starts off strong with “My Name Is Jonas”, doesn’t slow down with the next track, “No One Else” and ends strong with the eight minute long, “Only In Dreams”. The track that put Weezer on the map though was the extremely catchy, “Buddy Holly”. Can you believe it’s been 20 years since that song was played to death on the radio and MTV? I mean, the song was murdered by music television. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool video with its “Happy Days” theme and all but goddamn:
20 years since “Undone (The Sweater Song)” was constantly played on our discmans? Check. 20 years since one of my all-time favorite tracks, “Say It Ain’t So”, was taped off the radio? Check.
The times sure do fly.
Pink Floyd’s last album and tour?
Yes, “The Division Bell” and it subsequent tour happened in 1994. Pink Floyd would never perform together again other than a few one-off shows in the 2000’s.
Remember someone named The Notorious B.I.G.? Yeah, his game-changing debut, “Ready to Die” dropped in 1994. Nas? Oh right, “Illmatic” turns 20 this year. New York City, represent!
Kurt Cobain’s shocking death that shook the music world? 1994. Take that in for a second.
Remember that critically hailed three-day music festival promoting peace and unity that was “Woodstock”? Well after the first incarnation in 1969, they brought it back 25 years later for a legendary event in, yeah you guessed it, 1994. Lots of mud wrestling and drug using there!
1994. 20 years ago. You feel closer to death right now and sadly, I do as well.