I am bringing back something that a friend of mine mentioned two years ago: What’s the best American Band of our Generation? But I want to clarify….Speaking on behalf of Generation X and Y (Millennial’s too)…what band has defined this place in time occurring from 1980-2010. A band that began in the 80’s and is still relevant. Longevity and sales play a key roll. It needs to define us!!! So FRANK brought up Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I will add to that Green Day and Nine Inch Nails…..Let’s Debate Folks!!!
The following conversation has been edited for focus and clarity:
FRANK:I view Nirvana like The Doors. Amazingly influential but too short lived.
PAUL: I agree with the “short-lived” thing.
MARY: Definitely WuTang is in the running. Very influential in both music and life.
PAUL: If I were to ask 10 random people our age who Wu Tang is….would they know? I’m not saying I don’t like them or think they are good but are they at the top of the list?
MARY: I think so. Look at the rapper that came out of Wu-Tang. Ghostface killah, method man and old dirty bastard. Ghostface and Method are still relevant.
MARY: Wu-Tang is one of the most influential hip hop artist. That stupid pharmaceutical guy bought the ONLY copy of their latest album. So they are still relevant enough to garner that type of interest. They also started a clothing line and soon many rappers like puff daddy would follow suit. ODB was the original Kanye, interrupting the Grammys when Puff Daddy won best Rap Album and Shawn Colvin when she won Song of the Year.
BOB: My only vote would be for Nirvana. I know they don’t qualify based on the parameters, but their influence and effect rippled across the ENTIRE music industry in the early 90s. All at once, Hair Metal (your Warrants and Wingers of the world) were done. Grunge was the new sound for better or worse. Even thrash metal bands like Metallica and Anthrax were affected; if you listen to 90s records (post-Nirvana) from these bands versus 80s records (pre-Nirvana) you can hear the change. I can’t go with the Pumpkins (even though I am a huge fan) because they weren’t CONSISTENTLY good. Same thing with Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.
PAUL: You make a good point Sir.
JOE: Ha! Me and Geff have a long standing debate on this. Green Day vs Metallica. I say Metallica, he says Green Day. Ironically I’m in a band that plays lots of Green Day. So….Can of worms opened. I contend that without the Black album paving the way for heavier music in popular music there is no grunge or 90s metal.No nirvana, Pearl jam, Alice in chains, tool, Korn, or green day. Ergo Metallica had the most effect on the music of our generation. You must look back to what was on the radio and mtv before Aug 12 1991. It was a huge shift when they started playing a lot of heavy stuff on the radio and more kids at school liked Metallica than didn’t like that bunch of satan worshipping burn outs as they were previously referred to.
BOB:It’s very interesting to note that both the Black Album and Nevermind were released within weeks of each other in 1991. You could argue that the Black Album was one of the first grunge album, though that album did piss off a LOT of their hardcore fans due to the sound change from the first few records. I still think the music scene’s overall “sound” changed more as a result of Nirvana than the Black Album. Also, I still view the Black Album as the “buffer” album between Justice and the Load period. Therefore, I don’t hold it up as much; though there are some great tunes on that record.
JOE: Metal had to rise so it could die and grunge could rise up. I still maintain. If not that then yes Nirvana changed the world.
PAUL: Nirvana’s Bleach came out in 1989 and so did NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine so…
BOB: True, but in fairness, Bleach didn’t have anywhere near the impact that Nevermind did. I doubt Metallica was influenced by Bleach that much.
PAUL: probably not…..I just disagree with Joe on this one. Plus Mudhoney arrived in 1988 using” grunge” to define their style.
FRANK: Agree 100%. But still, need to add the East Coast and West Coast Hip Hop scene. They paved the way for what I’d consider to be the dominant form of American music today. I have been contemplating this and I still have Green Day as a tier 2 in this debate. I don’t think they were very original. They might have influenced the cheapening of punk. Sort of how Metallica made metal mainstream by watering it down. Which makes them successful in pop culture and also eligible for a “greatest” list. Given a choice, I’ll take Slayer and Fugazi over Metallica and Green Day but that’s a different list and different discussion.
PAUL: I tend to gravitate towards Green Day! Dookie went 10 x Platinuum and it was basically considered a Diamond record as opposed to a Gold record!
FRANK:I’ll stick to Metallica and RHCP as the greatest American bands of my generation.
PAUL: Perhaps we are the “mixtape” generation.
BOB:I’m a fan of Green Day, but they have put out a couple stinkers. The Warning album was godawful. It should have been titled Warning: This Record Sucks.Though I think Green Day’s first three records, 39 Smooth, Kerplunk and Dookie were all amazing! The follow-up to Dookie was underrated too. Insomniac, I think? I can’t remember.
PAUL: A good band/artist puts out stinkers! Even David Bowie managed to release some duds. He put out 27 albums but not ALL of them were Golden!
BOB: That is true, but if we’re talking about generation defining artists, I like to keep the stinkage to a minimum.
BOB: I think Nirvana defined the generation best with the lyrics to Teen Spirit: Here We Are, Now Entertain Us! If that isn’t the slacker Gen X anthem, well, I challenge you to top it!
PAUL: Actually, Beck, Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Radiohead all presented “anthems” for our generation too: Beck’s Loser? Sonic Youth’s Teenage Riot? Radiohead’s Creep?
BOB: I like “Here We Are, Now Entertain Us” better than “I’m a Loser, Baby, so Why Don’t You Kill Me?”Not a huge Radiohead fan, but I like Creep. Love Sonic Youth, especially Daydream Nation. Love it. But I think it more defined the Hipster generation, which I don’t consider myself a part of.
BOB: You could also make an argument that Dinosaur Jr. was making grunge records way before Nirvana. Listen to You’re Living All Over Me; if that ain’t grunge, I don’t know what is…
PAUL: THESE ALBUMS MEANT A LOT TO ME:
Pearl Jam, “Ten”
Dr. Dre, “The Chronic”
Radiohead, “OK Computer”
Rage Against the Machine, “The Battle of Los Angeles”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”
No Doubt, “Tragic Kingdom”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Siamese Dream”
REM, “Out of Time”
Depeche Mode, “Violator”
Jane’s Addiction, “Ritual de Lo Habitual”
Alanis Morissette, “Jagged Little Pill”
Green Day, “Dookie”
Beastie Boys, “Ill Communication”
U2, “Achtung Baby”
BOB: I forgot about REM. Perhaps they should be in the conversation as well? They had a gift for reinvention that was unique. Monster is one of my favorite 90s records.
PAUL: Losing My Religion really spoke to me
BOB: That’s definitely an anthem for a lot of us.
PAUL: So perhaps R.E.M. vs Nirvana?
FRANK: REM for sure. They were around 30 years – not comparable with Nirvana.
PAUL: Would you say REM is more relevant?
BOB: REM probably is more impressive in that they were so good for so long. I loved all their records until like, the late 90s. No obvious stinkers.
STEVE: While mother love bone birthed grunge music, nirvana definitely defined it. In a pop dominated era, rem defied the boundaries along with bands like the cure. However, I cannot find any band to compare to the boys from Ireland (U2). Imo, they’re on an island all their own.
PAUL: I think I’m convinced that it’s not Metallica or red hot chili peppers because there were too many stinkers and I don’t feel they spoke to everybody or at least the majority but what do I know?
Maybe we’ll never know for sure. Let’s ask the blog followers to participate. What’s your opinion on this matter? We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section.