Early 90`s Radio

I’ve lately come to terms with the fact that I started listening to white Top 40 music at the very moment that it was an unguided wasteland–from 1990 to 1992. This was a dark time for radio–darker, I assert, than the great trifecta of pain that grips white radio today (pre-processed pop, post-processed boy rock, and the narfing of rap by metal; for one feels the tentative stretch toward the next big thing (I predict a rebirth of un-Lilith melodic chick rock, reflective of the new Charlie’s Angels fighting chick movie motif).

One observes in both these eras that hip hop and its kid sister dance music are the only popular genres doing anything interesting and new. I speculate this is so it can stay ahead of the mass of whiteness coming to assimilate it. I also speculate that part of the reason Missy and Nelly remix and rerecycle their licks is to beat the Orlando popsters of 2030 to it.

Together Forever with looking like Mike Myers + Michael Bolton from Office Space

Important traits not to forget, although you may continue forgetting Michael Bolton, Celine’s beginnings, and Rick Astley’s long-haired comeback with the aptly titled “Cry for Help” (which I liked, so sue me, I was twelve):

Hair metal was still in effect. I had thought of this as a purely late-eighties phenomenon for some reason–a Metallica-heralded synth-pop backlash. Oh my God, I was wrong: Firehouse (Don’t Treat Me Bad); Damn Yankees (High Enough); Motley Crue (Kickstart My Heart, Don’t Go Away Mad); Slaughter (Spend My Life); Winger (Miles Away–oh, God, WINGER!). I leave Queensryche off this list because “Silent Lucidity” is about as hairy power ballad as “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Also consider that Firehouse’s “When I Look Into Your Eyes” hit #8 in 1992, and that I saw the Screaming Trees open up for them that year. The moral of this story is that grunge killed hair metal. So say what you want about grunge. It killed hair metal. Nuff said.

I love Heavy D: The author of the theme song of every predominantly black cast TV show since In Living Color hit with “Now That We’ve Found Love” in 1991. What are we gonna do with it? It’s gettin` kind of hectic on the charts, as this song tops at #11 and there is no God.

Mary J. Blige hit #7 in 1992 with “Real Love.” You didn’t know that was her, did you? Did you? You liar.

“Under the Bridge,” circa 1992 and still getting played occasionally on Top 40 radio, is about half as old as I am. Ah, yeah. And “Wicked Game,” which now gets played on the eighties-and-more station, is from 1991. You work that out.

Country had not crossed over: No Shania, no Faith. And country, more importantly, held not even the most remote promise of crossing over–at #4 in 1992, “Achy Breaky Heart.” Okay, that was unkind–I`ll pretend that Bonnie Raitt has a genre and call her country with “I Can’t Make You Love Me” at #18.

The Black Crowes were #1 in edgy. You could pick the next generation’s alternateens in 1991 by who was wearing “Shake Your Moneymaker” instead of Morrissey. They made vaguely country-fried rock before so-for-real bands like Cravin Melon, they waggled pot leaves before Cypress Hill commissioned their first towering Buddha, and Chris Robinson was Ric-Ocasek-skinny before Mike McCready even started filling out. They were hippie, and they still are, for the love of Pete. Chris is even married to Kate Hudson now. So that has to mean something.

I was going to conclude that Cracker, with their Top 40 hit “Low,” was grunge before grunge was grunge and thus the true beacon for a new era. But upon researching the subject I see they have had no Top 40 hit. And that “Low” came from an album released in August of 1993, more than a year after Nevermind and Ten. They had a single in 1992 called “What the World Needs Now (Is Another Folk Singer Like I Need a Hole In My Head).” So I don’t suppose they were exactly formative.

So I assert in conclusion that the best thing about the radio music of years 1990 to 1992 is that I don’t remember them very well. The end.


Draws. Sweats. Eats too much sugar-free candy.

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