Tangent Sunset

History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

Enter The Nineties


The beginning of the 1990's was marked by top 40 being dominated by hip hop, adult contemporary ballads and a few hair bands thrown it. But top 40 was also facing harsh scrutiny due to the revelation that many pop acts were lipsyncing at live shows, and in the case of Milli Vanilli, the perceived act that people saw in the videos, album covers and live shows was not the same act that did the recording. The outcry called for a more authentic music, which inevitably led to the rise of the alternative radio format. Radio leaders always had reservations about the progressive format, which seemed to consist of anything and everything that wasn't popular. But with new visionary bands emerging, the new format became a streamlined rock format full of hits mixed with surprises.

By the 1990-1991 period the hair band trend was beginning to wear off. People started to realize that it was mostly style with little substance. All the hair bands seemed as if they looked the same and sounded the same, with a few notable exceptions. Metallica made a strong impact with "Enter Sandman" which pulled the listener into a haunting dream world. Some of the bands that stood out as different from the pack of generic rockers did so by sounding like classic rock artists. Queensryche had a surreal Pink Floydish hit with "Silent Lucidity" and The Black Crowes offered a rootsy Allman Brothers meets Rod Stewart sound. A deeper explanation why these two particular bands stood out, might be that they sounded genuine and not just put together by a corporation. So rock was either becoming retro or homogenized. It didn't matter how fast one could play lead guitar anymore because the whole thing had been done to death. In fact, rock seemed to have lost its heart and soul, replacing it with arrogance.

Continue to "In Search of Alternatives"