Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why I Love the '90s, Part 1

The secret to rock & roll success? Kick-ass songs and a kick-ass frontman (or frontwoman) who serves up flesh for fantasy while moving like Jagger (or seducing like Deborah Harry), a whole lotta love (and luck), and an unforgettable moniker that will still sound cool 20 years later.

When it comes to the latter, they don't make them like they did circa 1990 to 1995. My favorite bands from that great era of Madchester, Britpop and dream pop -- the latter being wall-of-sound productions featuring a wash of layered guitars and gauzy vocals weaving in and out and around the melodious cacophony -- had names that were as memorable as their tunes, which, sadly, were sometimes more successful critically than commercially. They're like vintage clothing that still smells fresh today -- unlike, say, Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco.

The '80s gave great bands with great names, too -- A Flock of Seagulls, After the Fire, Bauhaus, Culture Club, Depeche Mode, General Public, Love and Rockets, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Psychedelic Furs, Ratt -- but they were so complicated, and so many, too many, of them began with the same article: the Alarm, the Bangles, the Call, the Church, the Cult, the Cure, the Fall, the Fixx, the Go-Go's, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Judds, the Pixies, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Smiths, the System, the The.

With several exceptions (Happy Mondays, My Bloody Valentine, the Stone Roses), the best band names of the '90s left off the "the" (even the Verve, who were simply Verve until Verve Records threatened legal action) and pulled us in with one simple word and, again with several exceptions (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Elastica, Slowdive, Texas), a one-syllable maximum.


Nothing against Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Kasabian, Boy & Bear, the Temper Trap, MGMT and Foster the People. Though their tunes -- which I'm pretty sure I'll still be listening to and loving in the 2030s -- will go down in history as some of my favorites from this century, Coldplay aside, I occasionally have trouble remembering the names of the bands in order to find their songs on my iPod.

But who can forget the best of the golden era of band names, ones that looked so good on paper (CD covers, and if you were still stuck in the '80s, cassette sleeves) and sounded even better when you said them out loud?

Blur


Curve


Hole


James


Live


Lush


Pulp


Ride


Suede

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