10 albums that shaped the 90s
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The 90s threw variety and diversity at us by the bucketload. With the popularity of mainstream rock and roll diminishing, the era birthed offshoots like alternative, grunge, and Britpop to a new following – whilst genres like rap and hip-hop proved themselves as far more than just a trend. Whether it be the iconic power chords of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, the Blur vs Oasis battle in the middle of the decade, or school girl anthem 'Hit Me Baby One More Time', the nineties were rich, funny and bold. And with that in mind, here are our 10 albums that shaped the decade. Nirvana – Nevermind (1991) Standalone, this album proves the 90s credibility. Altering the landscape of grunge forever, the album formed a mosh-worthy legacy to prove that rock and roll, even in its messy middle age, could still flourish. Toppling Michael Jackson off the album chart in early 1992, the ‘alternative’ tag came with some irony as a once niche market had become the market. People tapped into the cardigan-wearing aesthetic of Kurt Cobain, evidencing that people were sick of the classic leather loving rock of the previous generation, as Nirvana exhibited a less ‘showy’ way of doing things. Still, Nevermind feels explosive and alive – it’s nearly impossible to imagine a world without it. Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory (1995) For all their wit and energy, Manchester crew Oasis led by brother’s Noel and Liam Gallagher, stand as one of the best British bands of all time. After the release of What’s The Story as their second LP, its difficult to overstate just how popular Oasis became in the UK, with the album becoming the third-best-selling in the country’s history. Scoring huge hits with ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’, the band’s heaviness had a coherent meaningfulness in its lyrics, whilst the album as a whole wasn’t concerned with social politics, but rather documenting a few Manchester lads who got lucky. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory’s 12 track entirety soundtracked a generation’s coming-of-age which truly changed British culture. But, unsurprisingly, the whole thing went to the Gallagher’s heads and their follow up LP, Be Here Now, slumped massively. Radiohead – OK Computer (1997) Chosen in 2010 by Q Magazine readers as the best album of the past 25 years, OK Computer saw Oxford group Radiohead experimenting with prog rock styles to contrast previously simpler guitar rock. Heralding a new, raw sound, OK Computer spawned an entirely undefined genre that became more than just a collection of songs - it was art. Despite not boasting any catchy, radio-worthy hits, OK Computer went platinum a year after its release – a testimony to the experimental tones that still sells to this day. Many artists, from Coldplay to Arcade Fire have attempted to emulate the tone of late 90s Radiohead, but can this ever really happen?
Dr. Dre - The Chronic (1992)
At one point, Dr. Dre was just one of the guys from N.W.A. However, come 1992, he released his solo debut album and made himself a household name, whilst turning Death Row Records into a hit label. Not only illustrating Dre’s ability as a manager (assembling a West Coast troupe featuring Snoop Dogg amongst others) The Chronic recalibrates funk, soul and rap flavours in a way which made Dre stand tall amongst the rest. No rap album had ever been a musical, with samples being cut down and replaced as much as possible with live instruments. Despite being far from perfect, The Chronic set the bar in a highly-charged Los Angeles scene.
Metallica – Metallica (1991)
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