So You Think You Know 90s Music?

By: Adam Koury

Forever we love the 90s — this era was where music, fashion, and movies took a pivotal turn in a rebelliously potent way. Ripped jeans and teenage angst led a new generation of pop cultural phenomenons from Nirvana to Tupac. Often referred to as “The Last Great Decade”, the 90s heavily influenced the music and fashion we have today. From grunge, to hip hop, pop punk, and punk rock, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

“Alternative” and “indie” were the buzzwords of the 90s, as was “grunge.” That these seemingly interchangeable terms each applied to a separate 90s movement is a testament to just how diversified and widespread cutting-edge music became in that era.

Alternative rock cast a wide shadow, encompassing complex, edgy bands like REM — with its famous “jangle pop” sound — to bands like Hüsker Dü, which had a harder, punk-influenced edge. The campus scene and the growing influence of its radio stations and festivals definitely was an integral part of 90s music.

The northwestern, flannel-wearing coffeehouse corner of alternative music was the birthplace of the grunge scene. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden — these were the heroes of the movement. The vocals were gravelly, the lyrics were anti-Establishment, and the music was full of feedback and chaos. A little later in the decade, “grunge-lite” groups like Foo Fighters arrived. These acts were a little more radio-friendly, but had a similar sound.

Don’t forget indie rock! Female singer-songwriters and women-led bands flourished with the indie rock wave, especially Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, the Cranberries, Fiona Apple and Tori Amos. Their lyrics were jaded, their look was neo-hippie, and their sound was both complex and electrifying.

The 90s also had a way of altering other movements, including punk, which became “skate punk” — the style of tough, fast-tempo, urgent music that was favored by skaters and other hardcore types of the decade. Their heroes were Green Day and Blink 182. That hard-edged mentality was shared by thrash metal bands. Thrash metal broke out in a big way in the 90s, starting with the success of Metallica and soon encompassing Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth — which in turn led to the industrial metal sound of acts like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson.

Hip hop and pop certainly didn’t go away in the 90s. Catchy beats and camera-friendly looks was the buzzword for Spice Girls and Britney Spears, as well as the boy band groups like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys.

Hip hop continued to expand, from 2Pac to Eminem, and the rise of female rappers such as Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah, with Lauryn Hill bringing a storytelling, “concept album” feel to hip hop. Gangsta rap became a big subculture of hip hop, led by Dr. Dre and The Notorious B.I.G.

Life sure did change after this great decade! How well do you remember your 90s music? Take our challenge and see where you rank! Good luck!!

Quiz Written By:
Adam Koury, Quizmaster
An avid moviegoer and television junkie, Adam Kourey is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. He currently teaches a life skills class to high school seniors in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and he's also continuing his own education as he earns a masters degree in education. Adam is a freelance writer in his spare time and loves to play trivia games, especially those related to the entertainment industry. Adam believes being an only child and being entertained by television and the movie industry are responsible for his love for pop culture. Adam worked for several years for the Jefferson County Board of Education teaching reading to high school students. After moving to Indiana with his wife, Jaley, he was hired by the Homestead Senior High School. Adam loves working with kids and loves to challenge them daily on their knowledge of millennial pop culture. Adam boasts he knows TMZ, E! Entertainment Television and the newest and oldest celebrities like the back of his hand. Often referred to as a culture addict, Adam believes there are multiple reasons students should stay current with pop culture. Challenging and encouraging kids to participate in trivia games will help them advance in their career and improve their networking skills, says Adam. He encourages his students to read newspapers, watch CNN and listen to the radio. In addition, he recommends using Twitter to follow great organizations, celebrities and local entertainment. Adam and his partner enjoy doing a variety of things, like bike riding, canoeing and even volunteer locally when time allows. The couple continually looks for ways to invest and give back to their community.