Originally Posted by Deltadrummer
I would say that rock has historically defined nihilism in its generational conflict. I hate my parents and want to die. "We gotta get out of this place." Nihilism was a major part of the the rock music of the 1990s and grunge. Pearl Jam's Jeremy comes to mind. I hate you all and want to die. The Velvets and the roots of punk were the models. Nihilism plays against self-indulgence. But being overly self-indulgent is a form of nihilism, isn't it? It's self-destructive. I think that the answer sits somewhere between reflection and nihilism; honoring the past vs. destroying the ego and the past with it. I think rock music has always had a "problem" with the dichotomy, as well as self-indulgence. They're all fundamental artistic conflicts.
In the 1990s, the big shift came when kids started listening to their parent's music. One of the aspects of Alt rock and grunge was that it took its mantle from the singer -songwriters of the 1970s and heavy metal, genres that was criticized as being overly self-absorbed. They often say Neil Young started grunge, and Patti Smith. Cobain loved Lennon. Cobain exemplified the alt rock narrative, and named his band Nirvana, extinction of self. In alt rock, lyrical content was prefaced above musical ability, and energy (emotionalism) was extolled above technique. The idea of the song was to tell a story or capture a mood. REM's Night Swimming comes to mind, and later Radiohead, Paranoid Android is a good one. "I am paranoid; but no android," (If you haven't heard OK Computer, it's time) and Blur. There was a quest for authenticity against corp rock of the late 1970s and 1980s. But everyone thinks their music is "authentic," and perhaps everything else is crap.
again, no answer just more musings. where's Duncan?
I'd say that's pretty spot on.
As a kid growing up in San Francisco, I was in awe of the music of the late 60's. And as I became a teen, I got too see a lot of "20th anniversary" celebrations of assorted 60's events. Classic rock was huge.
And as an under aged teen, I saw everything that was going on in the 80's. And yes, while a lot of it was cheesy, it was at least fun. I looked forward to finally being able to old enough to go out and experience this fun.
And then I turned 21, and grunge took over. And suddenly, it wasn't about fun anymore.
And it wasn't a return to the social reflection of the 60's. It was all about self loathing. Cut your hair, stop standing out, and write songs about how much you hate yourself.
I thought it was pretty much a big bummer.
Granted, there were some great albums in the early 90's, but overall, it was a bummer.
And the funny thing (or not) was grunge was considered a reaction against the fact that 80's hair metal had become a parody of itself with a million cookie cutter bands (which was 100% true, and I hated much of it), but by 1995, grunge had become a parody of itself as well, with a million cookie cutter bands, while Cobain killed himself and Lane Staley was having problems keeping it together. It seemed to be a case of grunge saying to hair metal "hi, we're going to rebel against you by doing the exact same thing you did." Just replace spandex with flannel. Obviously record companies had a lot to do with it, by singing a million cookie cutter bands, but still, the bands were there to be singed.