Saturday, October 27, 2012

Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame

The website offers little explanation of the Hall, including when it began or if it is even still operational, but acknowledges is neither has a building nor gives actual tangible awards to inductees. Categories include artists, songs, session players, writers, publishers, sidemen, background vocals, producers, and humor. Inductees in the “artists” category are listed below.

See other Hall of Fames.



  • Moe Bandy
  • Bobby Bare
  • Jack Barlow
  • Joe Berry
  • Eddie Bond
  • Johnny Bond
  • Owen Bradley
  • Jim Ed Brown
  • Jimmy Bryant
  • Jimmy Buffett
  • Pearl & Carl Butler
  • Johnny Bush


  • Archie Campbell
  • Glen Campbell
  • Bill Carlisle
  • The Carter Family
  • Anita Carter
  • June Carter
  • Maybelle Carter
  • Wilf Carter
  • Johnny Cash
  • Tommy Cash
  • Guy Clark
  • Roy Clark
  • Jack Clement
  • Vassar Clements
  • Patsy Cline
  • Jerry Clower
  • Hank Cochran
  • David Allen Coe
  • Tommy Collins
  • Jessi Colter
  • John Conlee
  • Earl Thomas Conley
  • Spade Cooley
  • Wilma Lee Cooper
  • Carolina Cotton
  • Floyd Cramer
  • Billy “Crash” Craddock


  • Vernon Dalhart
  • Lacy J. Dalton
  • Jose Daniel
  • Charlie Daniels
  • Mac Davis
  • Skeeter Davis
  • Jimmy Dean
  • Kathy Dee
  • Delmore Brothers
  • Iris Dement
  • John Denver
  • Al Dexter
  • Hazel Dickens
  • Little Jimmy Dickens
  • Col. Buster Doss
  • Pete Drake
  • Roy Drusky
  • Dave Dudley




  • Larry Galtin & the Gatlin Brothers
  • Crystal Gayle
  • Geezinslaws
  • Don Gibson
  • Kenny Gill
  • Mickey Gilley
  • Johnny Gimble
  • Glen Glenn
  • Vern Gosdin
  • Claude Gray
  • Jack Greene
  • Lee Greenwood






  • Uncle Dave Macon
  • Rose Maddox
  • Fred & Maddox Brothers
  • Barbara Mandrell
  • Grady Martin
  • Hack Martin
  • Troy Martin
  • David Mayfield
  • Leon McAuliffe
  • O.B. McClinton
  • C.W. McCall
  • Joe Manuel
  • Del McCoury
  • Mel McDaniel
  • McGee Brothers
  • Ron McMunn
  • Roger Miller
  • Ronnie Milsap
  • Bill Monroe
  • Patsy Montana
  • Bob Moore
  • George Morgan
  • Col. Robert Morris
  • Moon Mullican
  • Anne Murray


  • Ken Nelson
  • Willie Nelson
  • Jimmy C. Newman
  • Juice Newton
  • Roy Nichols
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band


  • Oak Ridge Boys
  • Molly O’Day
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Osborne Brothers
  • Bashful Brother Oswald
  • Paul Overstreet
  • Buck Owens
  • Vernon Oxford




  • Jeannie Seely
  • Billy Joe Shaver
  • Jerry Shea
  • Jean Shepard
  • T.G. Sheppard
  • Billy Sherrill
  • Ricky Skaggs
  • Cal Smith
  • Carl Smith
  • Connie Smith
  • Margo Smith
  • Sammi Smith
  • Warren Smith
  • Hank Snow
  • Red Sovine
  • Joe Stampley
  • Stanley Brothers
  • Statler Brothers
  • Ray Stevens
  • Wynn Stewart
  • Cliffie Stone
  • George Strait
  • Marty Stuart




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First posted 10/27/2012; last updated 5/5/2022.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

50 years ago: James Brown is recorded live at the Apollo

First posted 10/24/2011; updated 12/1/2020.

Live at the Apollo

James Brown

Recorded: October 24, 1962

Released: May 1963

Charted: June 29, 1963

Peak: 2 US

Sales (in millions): 1.0

Genre: R&B


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Introduction by Fats Gonder – Opening Fanfare [1:48]
  2. I’ll Go Crazy (James Brown) [2:05] (2/22/60, #73 US, #15 RB)
  3. Try Me (I Need You) (James Brown) [2:14] (11/10/58, #48 US, #1 RB)
  4. Instrumental Bridge [0:12]
  5. Think (Lowman Pauling) [1:45] (5/2/60, #33 US, #7 RB)
  6. Instrumental Bridge [0:12]
  7. I Don’t Mind (James Brown) [2:27] (5/15/61, #47 US, #4 RB)
  8. Instrumental Bridge [0:11]
  9. Lost Someone (James Brown/Bobby Byrd/Lloyd Stallworth) [10:43] (12/18/61, #48 US, #2 RB)
  10. Medley: [6:27]
    • Please, Please, Please (James Brown/Johnny Terry) (4/7/56, #95 US, #5 RB)
    • You've Got the Power (James Brown/Johnny Terry) (5/2/60, #86 US, #14 RB)
    • I Found Someone (aka “I Know It’s True”) (James Brown) (2/22/60, B-side of “I’ll Go Crazy”)
    • Why Do You Do Me (Bobby Byrd/Sylvester Keels) (3/56, single)
    • I Want You So Bad (James Brown) (4/20/59, #20 RB)
    • I Love You, Yes I Do (Henry Glover/Sally Nix/Eddie Seiler/Guy Wood)
    • Strange Things Happen (Roy Hawkins) (album cut from 1959’s Try Me!
    • Bewildered (Teddy Powell/Leonard Whitcup) (2/18/61, #40 US, #8 RB)
    • Please, Please, Please (reprise)
  11. Night Train/Closing (Oscar Washington/Lewis P. Simpkins/Jimmy Forrest) [3:26] (4/14/62, #35 US, #5 RB)

Note: chart peaks are for studio versions.

Total Running Time: 27:23


4.510 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)

Quotable: “There is no more exciting document of live performance in the history of R&B.” – Barney Hoskyns,

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“There is no more exciting document of live performance in the history of R&B.” AZ James Brown is now widely acclaimed as “The Godfather of Soul,” but at the time of this album’s release, he was “still widely unknown outside the African-American community.” JD On top of that, his studio albums failed to do “justice to his dynamic performance style.” NRR Brown asked his record label to record one of his shows. When they refused, he bankrolled the project himself, TL knowing “his live performances contained electricity unable to be reproduced in the studio.” RV

“By the end of these thirty-two minutes, no one will doubt that James really was the hardest working man in show business (and this without even seeing him dance!).” AMG The setting was Harlem’s Apollo Theater, “the ultimate shrine of black American music.” AZ “The Apollo audience, hysterical with adulation, plays as big a part in Live at the Apollo as Brown himself.” AZ

“Brown puts on a flawless show of dynamism that lost nothing in the transfer to vinyl.” TL The band “is in stellar form, tight as a fist (especially the horn section) and supporting their leader with both strength and subtlety,” AMG moving “like a single organism, with the horns ‘answering’ Brown’s guttural moans and bone-rattling wails, the bass and the rhythm guitar prompting an impossible-to resist swaying of the hips, and the tight snare drum hits on two and four sweeping us up, hypnotizing us, and virtually reprogramming our heartbeats in time with Brown’s.” JD Through it all, though, “Brown is truly the star of this show.” AMGLive at the Apollo left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was a live performer without peer, and that his talent could communicate just as strongly on tape as in person.” AMG

Apollo “predates the brittle but powerful funk grooves which would later make Brown the most sampled man in show business and focuses on his earlier and (relatively) more conventional hits, the building blocks of his pioneering sound are all here in high-octane live versions.” AMG

“Deftly swinging from up-tempo grooves to romantic ballads (albeit delivered with Brown’s typically abundant enthusiasm),” JD Apollo “captures the sound of Brown baring his soul with an almost unbearable intensity, which drives the audience into a manic chorus of shouts and screams.” AMG

“The album seems like one continuous medley – Brown follows hit after hit with staggering verve.” RV “The set contains only six full songs, and most of those clock in at under two minutes. The entire performance is linked by instrumental bridges as the band builds up to the big medley – a six-minute merger of bits and pieces…then hurtles through the frantic farewell of Night Train.” JD

“Some listeners have suggested that the length of the recording and the effect of alternating the pounding, up-tempo grooves with the seductive slow jams evokes an expert session of lovemaking…One thing is for sure: The tone of the banter between Brown and the audience (especially the women) is positively orgasmic at times, as during the languorous, drawn-out version of Lost Someone.” JD “The song builds with intensity until the bottom drops, a…move that sends the audience into hysterics.” RV and “is one of the most heart-stopping moments in soul.” AZ

“Only a few thousand copies of the original were pressed, but demand became so great (it ultimately sold well over a million) that DJs played the album in its entirety.” TL It ended up on the Billboard charts for more than a year, peaking at #2 and becoming “a watershed album, both for James Brown and for the burgeoning soul music movement.” AMG It has also gone “down in history as one of the best live albums ever made.” JD

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d City released

Good Kid, m.A.A.d City

Kendrick Lamar

Released: October 22, 2012

Peak: 2 US, 11 RB, 16 UK, 2 CN, 23 AU

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.3 UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Genre: hip-hop


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Sherane a.k.a. Master Splinter’s Daughter
  2. Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (3/18/13, 32 US, 9 RB, 4x platinum)
  3. Backseat Freestyle (10/22/12, 29 RB, 79 UK)
  4. The Art of Peer Pressure
  5. Money Trees (with Jay Rock)
  6. Poetic Justice (with Drake) (1/15/13, 26 US, 8 RB, 2x platinum)
  7. Good Kid
  8. M.A.A.D City (with Mc Eiht)
  9. Swimming Pools (Drank) (7/31/12, 17 US, 3 RB, 57 UK, 99 CN, 67 AU, 4x platinum)
  10. Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst
  11. Real (with Anna Wise)
  12. Compton (with Dr. Dre)

Total Running Time: 68:23


4.339 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

Quotable: “Lamar is the James Joyce of hip-hop” – professor Adam Diehl, Georgia Regents University

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

All Music Guide’s David Jeffries called this the “biggest debut since [Nas’] Illmatic.” AMG It wasn’t really Lamar’s first outing. His Section.80 was independently released through Top Dawg Entertainment in 2011. A series of mixtapes followed which caught the attention of Aftermath and Interscope, leading to a major label record deal.

Thanks to “cool and compelling lyrics, great guests,…and attractive production” AMG Good Kid, m.A.A.d City “would be a milestone even without the back-story.” AMG The album is Kendrick’s “story of growing up in Compton, surrounded by gunfire, gang warfare, police brutality, drugs, liquor, dead friends.” RS’20 He had “a film director’s eye for narrative but the voice of a poet;” RS’20 this was “like a West Coast answer to Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets.” RS’20

“It spawns a kind of elevated gangsta rap that’s as pimp-connectable as the most vicious Eazy-E, and yet poignant enough to blow the dust off any cracked soul.” AMG Lamar “goes for emotional detail instead of gangsta bravado.” RS’20 XXL’s Jaeki Cho called the album “one of the most cohesive bodies of work in recent rap memory.” WK

It was “potent and smart enough to rise to the top of the pile” AMG both commercially and critically. It sold 242,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #2 on the Billboard album chart. It also landed four Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year and was named to many end-of-year lists, topping lists from BBC, Complex, New York, Pitchfork. WK In 2014, the album was studied as part of a Georgia Regents University composition class alongside works such as James Joyce’s novel A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man. WK

PopMatters’ David Amidon said the album offers a “sort of semi-autobiographical character arc.” WK Exclaim!’s Del F. Cowie says the album follows a transformation of Lamar’s character “from a boisterous, impressionable, girl-craving teenager to more spiritual, hard-fought adulthood, irrevocably shaped by the neighbourhood and familial bonds of his precarious environment.” WK

That environment is Lamar’s native Compton. He has a “Springsteen-sized love for the home team,” AMG but is willing to address his “city’s plagued condition” WK and “harsh realities” WK through songs about “economic disenfranchisement, retributive gang violence, and downtrodden women while analayzing their residual effects on individual and families.” WK

Swimming Pools (Drank) is a “cautionary tale” AMG about addiction which is “as hooky and hallucinatory as most Houston drank anthems.” AMG It “breaks off into one of the chilling, cassette-quality interludes that connect the album, adding to the documentary or eavesdropping quality of it all.” AMG

“Soul children will experience déjà vu when Poetic Justice slides by with its Janet Jackson sample sounding like it came off his Aunt’s VHS copy of the movie it’s named after.” AMG

The closing Compton is a “journey through the concrete jungle” AMG which “is worth taking because of the artistic richness within, plus the attraction of a whip-smart rapper flying high during his rookie season” AMG which also features Dre “in beast mode.” AMG “Any hesitation about the horror of it all is quickly wiped away by Kendrick’s mix of true talk, open heart, open mind, and extended hand.” AMG

Notes: The deluxe edition added bonus tracks “The Recipe” with Dr. Dre, “Black Boy Fly,” and “Now Or Never” with Mary J. Blige. The iTunes deluxe edition also added “Collect Calls” with Kent Jamz and the single version of “Swimming Pools (Drank).” The Target deluxe edition and UK deluxe edition each included the first three tracks plus “County Building Blues” and the Black Hippy Remix of “Swimming Pools (Drank).” The Spotify deluxe edition included the first three tracks plus a Black Hippy Remix of “The Recipe” featuring Black Hippy.

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First posted 10/13/2020; last updated 4/22/2022.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition performed for first time: October 19, 1923

Check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts. Also check out books by Dave Whitaker, including the collection of past blog entries, No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”…And Other Essays from a Musical Obsessive.

Modest Mussorgsky composed “Pictures at an Exhibition” in June 1874 as a piano suite However, Maurice Ravel redid it for orchestra, premiering its first performance on October 19, 1923. Proving that any good work can be reinterpreted multiple ways, the piece resurfaced as “one of the seminal documents of the progressive rock era” BE when Emerson, Lake, & Palmer put their stamp on it.

Mussorgsky’s original work was inspired by a memorial retrospective of some 400 drawings and watercolors by Viktor Hartmann. Hartmann was a St. Petersburg artist, architect, and stage designer, who was friends with Mussorgsky.

It was edited for publication in 1886 by Rimsky-Korsakov. Over the next century, more than a dozen versions surfaced, “but none that challenge the finesse, subtlety, and cumulative impact of Maurice Ravel’s (1875-1937).” RD In 1913, Ravel, “France’s foremost living composer,” RD was commissioned to score what had been omitted from Rimsky-Korsakov’s version. BD He went on to lead “the world and American premieres (the latter with his Boston Symphony in 1926).” RD

Prog-rock group Emerson, Lake, & Palmer performed it live in 1971. The performance was released as an album and “made its way into the collections of millions of high-school kids who never heard of [Mussorgsky or Hartmann].” BE “It wasn’t the first treatment of a classical piece in this manner by any means…but it was the first to reach a mass audience or get heavy radio play (at least of excerpts), and introduced the notion of ‘classical rock’ to millions of listeners.” BE

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Jackson 5 land fourth consecutive #1 with "I'll Be There": October 17, 1970

Michael Jackson was only 11 years old when The Jackson 5 hit #1 with “I Want You Back”, their chart debut. Less than a year later, “I’ll Be There” became the group’s fourth consecutive chart topper, making them the first black male group to achieve such a feat. WK It was the group’s biggest hit and the most successful Motown single from their 1959-72 Detroit era, WK but it would be the last time the Jackson brothers would collectively peak in the pole position, but Michael would go on to hit the top slot thirteen times as a solo act.

Motown chief Berry Gordy decided for a change of pace after three upbeat singles from The Jackson 5. Instead of relying on the stable of Motown songwriters known as “The Corporation”, he turned to Hal Davis, Willie Hutch, and Bob West for this ballad. In the song, a man declares eternal dedication to a former lover, saying that she can always come back to him. Michael and older brother Jermaine share the lead vocal, but this is really Michael’s showcase. “Rarely, if ever, had one so young sung with so much authority and grace,” AMG bringing “perfect aplomb…to material that ought to be both more romantic and more dramatic than he could possibly comprehend.” MA

Michael also demonstrates how well he was learning from his mentors at Motown. His mastery of phrasing and “the way he oohs his way out of the choruses” MA are taken from Diana Ross and Smokey Robinson. MA “The harmonies rival those of the Temptations” AMG and he even ad-libs a line (“Just look over your shoulder, honey!”) in tribute to The Four Tops’ “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”.

More than twenty years later, Mariah Carey scored her own #1 version of the song on the pop charts. It was a last minute addition to her 1992 MTV Unplugged appearance, performed as a duet with R&B singer Trey Lorenz. WK Her version was even more successful than The Jackson 5’s original on the adult contemporary and UK charts where it went to #1 and #2 respectively.

Awards: Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

John Lennon was born: October 9, 1940 / His Top 40 Songs

image from

With the Beatles and as a solo artist, John Lennon is one of the most significant contributors to rock ‘n’ roll in music history. In honor of his birth on this date in 1940, Dave’s Music Database presents its list of Lennon’s top 40 songs with and without the Beatles (songs marked by *). Only Beatles’ songs which featured Lennon as the prominent vocalist and/or songwriter are featured on this list.

As with all DMDB lists, this list was created by aggregating multiple best-of lists with sales figures, chart data, and awards.

John Lennon’s Top 40 Songs
1. Imagine (1971)
2. Strawberry Fields Forever (1967) *
3. Help! (1965) *
4. Just Like Starting Over (1980)
5. Come Together (1969) *
6. In My Life (1965) *
7. Instant Karma (We All Shine On) (1970)
8. All You Need Is Love (1967) *
9. Twist and Shout (1963) *
10. Woman (1980)
11. Ticket to Ride (1965) *
12. Revolution (1968) *
13. Working Class Hero (1970)
14. Jealous Guy (1971)
15. Watching the Wheels (1980)
16. I Am the Walrus (1967) *
17. Give Peace a Chance (1969)
18. #9 Dream (1974)
19. Happy X-Mas (War Is Over) (1971)
20. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (1965) *

21. Nobody Told Me (1984)
22. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967) *
23. Nowhere Man (1966) *
24. Mind Games (1973)
25. Whatever Gets You Through the Night (1974)
26. God (1970)
27. Love (1970)
28. Mother (1970)
29. Cold Turkey (1969)
30. Oh Yoko! (1971)
31. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (1968) *
32. Stand by Me (1975)
33. The Ballad of John and Yoko (1969) *
34. Real Love (1996) *
35. Rain (1966) *
36. Across the Unverise (1970) *
37. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) (1980)
38. Power to the People (1971)
39. You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away (1965) *
40. Tomorrow Never Knows (1966) *

* songs by The Beatles which featured Lennon as the predominant vocalist and/or songwriter


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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2013 Nominees

image from

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has nominated its class of 2013. Over the next couple months, the Hall’s voting body of roughly 600 musicians, industry types, and journalists will vote to determine which of them will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on April 18, 2013. Here are the 15 nominees:

  • Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  • Chic
  • Deep Purple
  • Heart
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • Albert King
  • Kraftwerk
  • The Marvelettes
  • The Meters
  • Randy Newman
  • N.W.A.
  • Procol Harum
  • Public Enemy
  • Rush
  • Donna Summer
You can read about each nominee at RockHallcom. In an interesting move, the Hall has added a way for fans to vote, although their voice will be minimal. Fans can vote at and the top 5 vote getters will be entered as one of the 600+ ballots. Results will be announced in mid-December.

Rush finally gets long overdue nomination; image from

So who should go in? After last year’s class of nominees was announced, I tapped 39 lists arguing for who deserved inclusion. Based on that list, here’s how this year’s crop ranks:

  1. Rush (2)
  2. Deep Purple (5)
  3. Heart (12)
  4. Kraftwerk (39)
  5. Public Enemy (47)
  6. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (53)
  7. Chic (55)
  8. Procol Harum (81)
  9. Randy Newman (86)
Not ranked: Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Albert King, The Marvelettes, The Meters, N.W.A., and Donna Summer.

As always, there will be plenty of debate regarding who didn’t get nominated – namely, KISS. In another blog post last year, I argued on behalf of KISS, Gram Parsons, Rush, Joy Division, and Deep Purple. I’m grateful that the Hall has listened to me and included two of my suggestions. ;)

Frankly, though, if that top 5 (Rush, Deep Purple, Heart, Kraftwerk, Public Enemy) were this year’s inductees, that would be an awesome class. There’s some nice diversity in terms of genre, race, and gender. We’d have a newbie (Public Enemy) and some long overdue nominees. Don’t hold your breath, though. Based on the Rock Hall’s past trends, I’d say Heart and Public Enemy have good shots among this class, but the other three slots are likely to go to the pet projects of Hall nominating committee members, meaning the other slots might well go to Chic, Albert King, and Donna Summer. They aren’t horrible picks, but they certainly aren’t more worthy than Rush and Deep Purple. We’ll see what happens.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Music in the '90s: When Alternative Became Mainstream

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on October 1, 2012. See original post here.

image from

The genre once tied to college radio and indie record companies became mainstream in the '90s. Some of those icons of “alternative” are making comebacks – or never went away. Is this 2012 or 1996?

I’m a Billboard magazine junkie. Every week I peruse the charts, eager to track music’s latest hitmakers. Lately, however, I’ve experienced a heavy dose of déjà vu. Among the pop and rock entries are songs and albums by Green Day, Matchbox 20, the Dave Matthews Band, Alanis Morissette, No Doubt, the Offspring, and Soundgarden.

Others who’ve unleashed new product this year include Fiona Apple, the Counting Crows, the Cranberries, Eve 6, Everclear, Garbage, Smashing Pumpkins, and Soul Asylum. Look for new stuff from Alice in Chains and the Wallflowers by year’s end. That would be the year 2012, not 1996.

It’s enough to make one believe the ‘90s never ended. Oh sure, most of those acts peaked over a decade ago, but their refusal to go away hints at a still-present passion for the alternative scene which became the mainstream music of the ‘90s.

That decade, a mere dozen years in the rear view mirror, proved a particularly productive era for sending album sales into the stratosphere. Less than 200 albums have sold 15 million or more worldwide (Dave’s Music Database blog, “The World’s Top 100 All-Time Best-Selling Albums,” 20 February 2012), but an astounding eighty albums released in the ‘90s make the cut. They cross multiple genres including rap (MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Kid Rock), country (Garth Brooks, Shania Twain), R&B (Boyz II Men, TLC), pop (Michael Jackson, Madonna), bubblegum (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys), adult contemporary (Celine Dion, Michael Bolton), and rock (Metallica, Guns N’ Roses).

However, the decade’s most dynamic trend was the rise of alternative rock. If there’s any doubt as to the genre’s impact, check out this list of the “Top 100 Albums of the 1990s” (Dave’s Music Database Facebook page, 16 February 2011) in which albums are ranked by aggregating multiple best-of lists alongside sales figures, chart data, awards, and ratings; 9 of the top 10 albums and more than half the overall list fall under the alternative rock banner.

In the ‘80s, the genre was as a niche market confined to airplay on college radio stations. However, at the dawn of the ‘90s, genre stalwarts like U2 and R.E.M. had surfaced as bands capable of selling out major arenas and racking up millions in album sales (both have albums from the ‘90s on the list).

In 1991 and 1992, Nirvana and Pearl Jam (also on the list with ‘90s albums) didn’t just become the flagbearers for grunge, but the entire alternative rock scene. When Nirvana’s Nevermind toppled Michael Jackson on the album chart in early 1992, it was clear the “alternative” tag was looking a little silly. A once niche market had become the market.

However, the moniker remained – and a multitude of other “alternative” albums comfortably found a home in the 15-million club. Here’s a glimpse at five of the acts who joined the club via 1990s releases and how they are still impacting the charts today.


In 1996, Green Day were just putting the chart run of Insomniac to bed. While the album generated a couple #3 alt-rock hits, it was a let down from 1994’s Dookie. Three #1 alternative hits (“Longview,” “Basket Case,” and “When I Come Around”) sent the album into the stratosphere, hitting 20 million in sales worldwide.

Two more albums followed before Green Day woke up and reasserted itself with a pair of rock operas (American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown). The group now has the #1 rock song (“Oh Love”) as they prepare to launch a triple-album extravaganza.


Matchbox 20 released its debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You, in 1996. Over two years, they milked it for five songs (including “Push,” “3 A.M.,” and “”Real World”) which hit the top ten on one chart or another. The album peaked at #4 and sold 15 million worldwide.

After a couple more outings, Matchbox 20 went on hiatus for a decade. They trotted out an obligatory anthology and frontman Rob Thomas had a successful stint as a solo act. However, the 22 September 2012 issue of Billboard loudly trumpeted the band’s return – with the #1 debut of new album, North.


Alanis began 1996 with “Ironic,” the fourth single from Jagged Little Pill. It became her third #1 on the alternative charts (after “You Oughta Know” and “Hand in My Pocket”) and was a #2 pop airplay hit. “You Learn” topped the airplay chart and “Head Over Feet” went to #3. Pill secured a dozen weeks atop the Billboard album chart on its way to 33 million sales worldwide.

A week before Matchbox 20 topped the Billboard album chart, Alanis made her own entrance into 2012 with the #5 debut of Havoc and Bright Lights. It is her fifth studio release since Pill. All have been top ten efforts.


Gwen Stefani and Co. closed out 1996 with the #1 album (Tragic Kingdom) in the country. Their blend of ska and pop landed three top-ten alternative hits, but it was the ballad, “Don’t Speak,” which exploded at pop radio and topped the pop airplay chart for 16 weeks.

The group followed with two more studio albums before going into hibernation. In the interim, the group followed the Matchbox 20 blueprint. Stefani released a couple solo albums while the group appeased fans with a hits collection. No Doubt is back on the charts now with “Settle Down,” the song preceding their Push and Shove album, another September 2012 release.


In 1996, the Peppers were working singles from One Hot Minute, the follow-up to their breakthrough, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.  When that album launched – coincidentally on the same day as Nirvana’s Nevermind (24 September 1991) – the Peppers blend of funk, metal, and rap had built a small but loyal audience over the course of three albums in the 1980s. Thanks to “Give It Away” (#1 alternative), “Under the Bridge” (#2 pop), and other hits, Magik racked up 15 million in sales worldwide. 

Six studio albums have followed since Magik. All have been multi-platinum top-five efforts. 1999’s Californication was another entry into the 15-million-selling club. Proving they still have clout, their 2011 album, I’m With You, hit #2 and produced the group’s twelfth #1 modern rock hit (“The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”) and two more top ten hits this year.

Whether it’s the Peppers or Alanis, the continued presence of ‘90s icons in today’s musical landscape makes the case that the decade was more than grunge. It was the decade when the music once on the fringes became the soundtrack for the masses. Sure, they aren’t selling 15 million albums anymore, but no one else is either these days. Well, except Adele. Tune back in 15 years or so for my reflection on how Adele helmed the neo-soul movement of the early 21st century.