Oh where, oh where did 1999 go?
Scene Music Critic
The critics told everyone this was the year rock fought back. This was the year all the teenybopper hit-makers would meet their match. This was the year it became cool again to buy an electric guitar and just jam, man!
Well, it didn't really happen exactly like that. Amidt the new studio albums from favorite rockers such as Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers, there was a steady stream of attention paid to teenyboppers like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. The return of rock was very much overshadowed by the presence of adolescent singers that wear more makeup than Gene Simmons.
But if we decide to ignore the teen wave that has gulped up the music industry and watch everything else, I still don't think we have a return of rock music. The Woodstock '99 concert, plagued by unruly teenage violence was dominated by testosterone-powered angst. Instead of good rock music the public was served unoriginal loud trash that would appall the great artists of this century. What would Jimi Hendrix think of Korn? Could John Lennon even imagine a more horrible group than Limp Bizkit?
Sure, rock music is not entirely dead. Rage Against the Machine rocks hard. But they also show skill through their music and deliver a message. On "The Battle of Los Angeles," Tom Morello invents sounds that would make Jimmy Page proud. Zach de la Rocha warns against the dangers of oppression and racism. The Foo Fighters are carrying on the alternative tradition, even though the grunge sound has now morphed from Nirvana distortion to Beatles song craftsmanship. And Pearl Jam scored its biggest hit with the heart-wrenching cover "Last Kiss."
In the world of rap music we learned that maybe it would be better if we all just got along and had some fun. Two boys from Detroit decided that you could be a loser and still make money … a lot of money. Eminem's hilarious and often graphic rhymes on "The Slim Shady LP" captivated the country, while Kid Rock made everyone want to grab a hat and become a "Cowboy" baby! Oh yeah, one more thing: Dre is back and he is better than ever.
What happened in the country music industry? Some more hot chicks followed Shania Twain's lead and suddenly developed southern accents. There were some reports that a few dogs died, thus prompting hundreds of new songs to be written. Garth Brooks morphed into Chris Gaines and tricked even more fools into buying his albums.
So what should we be hoping for in the future? Well for starters, how about the return of the rock opera? Is there anybody out there that can pull it off? I'm not positive about that, but I would like to nominate Radiohead to take on the task. They are hard at work on a new album as we speak, but one of these days they should consider a 21st Century answer to "Tommy."
We could also use a break from the whole Ricky Martin fiasco. He gripped the nation with his good looks and Latin grooves, but I would rather let the Latin grooves come from someone like Carlos Santana. Ricky will bomb on his next album.
We also need to stop the violence. Someone should throw Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit into one of his own mosh pits. I'm sick of watching television seeing girls get crushed and abused. What are we teaching young kids? That it is all right to hurt women? That is just plain sick and wrong. What are we accomplishing with all of this anger? Stop for a moment and take a look at the sky. Isn't it beautiful? Stop for a moment and look at yourself in the mirror. You are alive and that should be celebrated. How about writing some music that talks about love and hope?
Looking back on 1999, it is safe to say that there was not one act that completely dominated. There was no Alanis Morissette to annoy us for the entire year. But there was still a lot of useless noise and obnoxious teenyboppers. But apparently that's what the public wanted. Or was that what the record executives shoved down the public's throats? We'll see fairly soon what is in store for the year 2000. But for now, sit back relax and hit me baby one more time!
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, December 7, 1999