How long should we wait before we write the history of a decade? Sure, we can write things down as they happen, but that’s only the first draft. Time has to pass before we can wrap our heads around exactly what happened, what it all meant, and the lasting effect of those ten years.
Something that may have appeared to be insignificant at the time may have turned out to be a really, really big deal. It was only after many years passed and ripples from that thing or event played out do we realize “Holy crap! That was history!”
When it comes to the history of music, it’s often convenient to break things down into decades because that seems to be the natural order of things in so many ways. Music is a great barometer of the life and times of a decade because it’s so intertwined with society: politics, economics, demographics–basically everything to do with culture. Understand the music of a decade and you’ll have a deeper understanding of what happened during that time.
The 50s marked the birth of rock’n’roll. The 60s brought us The Beatles, the rise of the album, and the mega rock festival. In the 70s, we got punk, metal, disco, and rap. The 80s? Technopop, hair metal, and hip-hop. The 90s were all about grunge, the Lollapalooza Generation, and Britpop.
That takes us to the end of the 20th century. As transformative and disruptive the 90s were–the introduction of the Internet, cell phones, sampling, and so on–that was only a warmup for the next ten years. And by we got to 2010, everything had changed.
This is the first of a multi-part history of the alt-rock in the first decade of the 21st century which we’re going to call The Aughts.
Music heard on this episode:
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