When: Evening, April 1994
Where: My mom’s ’88 Corolla
Who: My mom
In the ’80s, “pop music” stopped meaning “popular” and started meaning “if we call it disco, people won’t like it.”
The meaning of “Alternative” similarly decayed in the early ’90s. Alternative music first began in the late ’60s with Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground, but it didn’t fully come together until punk rock.
“Alternative” lost its meaning the moment Nirvana released Nevermind. This is the month Kurt Cobain died, and when Weezer came out to take their place, they were similarly “alternative.” Calling an entire genre topping the charts “Alternative” is kind of unfair to actual alternative music like Shoegaze, which had spent the last six years cutting a plethora of records.
In America at least, shoegaze peaked with this #44 single, Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You. With downloading and payola and Clear Channel, it’s impossible to know what is actually popular. We’re told “Pop” is popular even though everyone outside of Jersey seems to hate it. And “Alternative” was popular, but it isn’t called popular. The alternative to the alternative is Indie, which is equally meaningless and likely more popular than the rest of the bunch; it just isn’t included because it’s bought by people who know how to use a computer. From now on, let’s call things as they are.
Next: Disney goes into the VHS market, takes over the world.