Retro 90s Music is Big Business and Getting Bigger

One more the more dependable cycles in the music are the regular booms in nostalgia that pop up with stubborn regularity. Here are some examples:

  • Late 1950s: Trad Jazz briefly threatens to become the most popular genre in the UK.
  • Early 1970s: 50s music sweeps North America.
  • Late 1970s/early 80s: Pining for the 60s really starts to take off.
  • Early 90s: Classic rock becomes an established radio format. Thousands flock to see concerts by the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Pink Floyd and other giants of the 70s.
  • Middle 90s: Retro 80s nights blow up in clubs across the world. I hosted a retro night at one club for seven consecutive years.

Things got a little weird in the 00’s as gorging on downloads distorted the nostalgia cycle. But now Millennials are driving the bus when it comes to 90s nostalgia.

A look at the musical landscape reveals plenty of 90s music: Blink-182 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are riding high with new albums; not only is Guns ‘N Roses back, but so is Salt-N-Pepa and (ahem) Vanilla Ice; Pearl Jam is celebrating their 25th anniversary on the road; everyone is playing Pokemon GO. Need I go on?

How long will this current boom last? Hard to say when the Internet has such a big say over where musical trends go. A safe bet would be 3-4 years. And then what? We’ll see.

Billboard has a deeper look at the retro 90s phenomenon here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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.

2 thoughts on “Retro 90s Music is Big Business and Getting Bigger

  • July 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    I think it’s related to people in their late 30’s and early 40’s hitting the 20 year anniversary of a lot of big milestones coupled with college kids becoming interested with what was going on around the time they were born. Feels like culture became too fractured in the 00’s to have the kinds of shared moments that inspire retro trends. Or turtles.


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