Music HistoryOngoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 810: The 90s, Part 1: The Foundational Changes That Made Everything Possible

Writing history takes a very long time. Sure, you could write everything down as it happens, but that’s only really like writing a diary. You only have a record of events, which is fine. But real history, meaningful history, needs to marinate.

To understand what happened in the past, time has to go by in order that we may observe the ripples events have upon the world. It’s only by examining those ripples that we begin to understand what’s happening in the present and what could happen in the future.

It’s often helpful and convenient to look at the past by decade. That’s certainly a favourite way to do things with music. In fact, we’ve been categorizing music history this way for, well, decades.

If I say “50s music,” you exactly what I’m talking about. If we move to 60s music, the names of artists and songs and albums immediately leap to mind, just as they do if I said we’re doing to talk about the music of the 70s or 80s.

But what about the 1990s? What comes to mind when we venture out onto that branch of music history? Grunge, Britpop, raves, electronic, Generation X, hip-hop, sampling cell phones, personal computers, the early Internet, MP3s, and music piracy.

The 90s were a transformational decade. In so many ways, it marked the end of the way music used to be and the beginning of what it would become in the 21st century. Many people have even come to the conclusion that the 90s were the last great decade for the music industry–maybe music, period.

Is that true? Now that enough time has passed, we can now look back on the 90s in hopes we can better understand where we are today. And if we’re going to do that properly and successfully, we’re going to have to stretch this investigation out over a bunch of shows.

This is the 1990s, part 1.

Songs heard on this show:

Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit

Soundgarden, My Wave

Korn, Freak on a Leash

Pearl Jam, Daughter

Nine Inch Nails, Closer

Beastie Boys, Pass the Mic

Kraftwerk, Home Computer

John Vanderslice, Bill Gates Must Die

Playlister Eric Wilhite has constructed this for us.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.


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 38550 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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