Music History

FIGHT! Who Had the Best Music: Gen X or Gen Y?

If you lived through it, you’ll remember 1994 as one of the greatest years in rock/alt-music. Yes, Kurt killed himself, but there was still some good grunge to come (Soundgarden’s Superunknown, more Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains). The punk revival was just starting (Green Day’s Dookie, Offspring’s Smash)  and industrial music (cf. The Downward Spiral from Nine In Nails) was kicking all kinds of ass. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Britpop (Blur, Oasis, Elastica, et al) was preparing to explode.  And let’s not forget that Lollapalooza was at its peak.

Twenty years on, Gen X is looking back at 1994 with fond nostalgia. If they’re not careful, they find themselves saying exactly the same things older folk were saying about ’94’s music, i.e. “You call this crap music? It was so much better in the [insert decade here]!”


Meanwhile, Gen Y–the people whom Gen X claim will spoiled their party by embracing late 90s/early 00’s pop (Spice Girls, Britney N Sync, Backstreet Boys) before their road to Damascus conversion to indie rock–will insist that their music was far superior to whatever their older kin were listening to. Lest we forget that ten years ago–2004–music was also pretty solid.  Alt-rock especially was on the uptick, ready to peak in 2005:  Coldplay, White Stripes, U2, Audioslave–you remember, right?

This Salon article lays down a gauntlet:  “For Generation Y, music is just what you listen to. For Xers, it defines who we are.”

Ooo.  I smell a fight and comment war.  Have at it!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38165 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “FIGHT! Who Had the Best Music: Gen X or Gen Y?

  • Having been born in 1963 I would say it’s a fight for 2nd or 3rd place. When it comes to music the ’70s destroys all comers.

  • I fall somewhere in the middle. I am old enough to remember the grunge explosion and bought all the cassettes. But i also came into high school during that dreaded pop era, which gave way to a great alt-rock and hardcore time in my coming of age years (aka college years). I can’t say either generations music was better or worse.


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