The 5 Most Artistically Bankrupt Bands from the 90’s.

Phantom Cosmonaut shows us why we brought him on board- a stunning depth of musical knowledge and an insightful view of the history music; and Abraxas…well, he does what he does best. He talks some big smack.

Abraxas: So, a lot of you won’t know this but talk to Cosmo for longer than 5 minutes and every conversation will end up being about music.  Seriously, the guy knows a lot about music.  He’s got 3 bookshelves full of CD’s, and those are the ones he likes to listen to the most!  So, anyway, Cosmonaut and I got to talking about our favorite era of music- the 90’s.

Cosmo: Some of you may not know this but the 90’s represented a major shift in the musical tastes of mainstream America.   Let me set the stage for you: it’s 1990, Madonna and Phil Collins are the top acts, the Stones have just wrapped their Steel Wheels reunion, and Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi are the biggest metal bands.  The top songs are love songs, power ballads, and easy listening dance sounds.

In 1990 Perry Farrell decides he’s done with Jane’s Addiction (a band you didn’t know about in the 80’s but you do now).  As a farewell deal he wants to do a music festival; inspired by watching evangelical preachers Farrell decides to take the festival on the road.  Thus is born Lollapalooza.  Part rock festival, art show, political activism, freak show, and global awareness.  It takes him a year to put it together.  And in 1991 it hits the mid-west like a prairie fire.

Abraxas: Lollapalooza takes all the Alt-Rock sounds that had been growing in the seedy scenes of New York, LA, and Seattle and exposes the Gen-X kids of middle America to that music. And we went nuts for it.  Lollapalooza was Gen-X’s Woodstock.  1991 changed everything.

Cosmo: Flash forward to 1992.  Top acts?   Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Dr Dre.  All acts that were in the first Lollapalooza tour.  With one swoop Perry Ferrel shoved a rusty hypodermic needle into the heart of Pop and Metal Music.  The big songs of the year are about social alienation/isolation, apathetic teens, and heroine addition (let’s face it, that’s what every Alice in Chains song is about).  Metal died that year.  Pop music went into rehab and didn’t come back for 10 years (and then addicted to under-aged Lolitas).

Abraxas: In the space of two years, 90 and 91, the sound of American music  goes from the tightly organized sounds of Pop music and wailing guitar solo’s of Hair Metal to the sloppy play of Grunge and Alt-Rock.  When you listened to the radio, you knew exactly what a band sounded like in the club.  It was organic, it was alive, and it was glorious!

Cosmos: Hell yeah!  Stock in Aquanet drops 40 points that year alone, man!  It was a crazy time to be alive.  Remind me to tell you about the band I was in back then.  We used to play these crazy beach parties in LA, damn.  Anyway, with birth of every innovation there is the inevitable afterbirth; imitation.  1995 is when the innovation of the 90’s died and thus began the rise of the artistically bankrupt acts.

Abraxas: Yeah, that’s when the Music Machine moved in.  94 Cobain committed suicide, and Nirvana is over.  In 95 Lollapoolza is getting too expensive for anyone but the bored rich kids to attend.  Ferrel leaves the project for ENIT.

Cosmo: 1995 was just the beginning of the end.  In 1996 Metallica is headlining the show.  Metallica!  Waylon Jennings?  WTF? How is this Alt-Rock?  It wasn’t.  And that’s why Abraxas and I have teamed up to bring you the 5 most artistically bankrupt bands from the 90s.

Abraxas; Yeah.  It took us all of 4 minutes to create this list, and that’s because 3 of them were spent arguing over Collective Soul.

Cosmo: Man, those guys got shafted by their label and management.  I feel like really bad for them.

Abraxas: I don’t care!  Someone needs to pay for Shine!  Someone needs to pay!

Cosmo: Anyway. Here are the 5 most artistically bankrupt acts from the late 90’s, in order of offensiveness from least to worst.

  • Sugar Ray

Cosmo:  Sugar Ray used to be a hybrid Trash/Punk band, until they sold out with the single Fly.  After that it was easy listening.

Abraxas: Yeah.  They were cool back in the day, but then someone’s mom dies or whatever and they produce that thing.  Sure it’s a nice pop song, but that’s not who they were.  Well, until the $$’s showed up. Didn’t they do a Sprite commercial too?

Cosmo: Yep, and the front man was like on E or some crap Hollywood  gossip show.  Ugh.

  • Smash Mouth

Cosmo: Smash Mouth though it was cute and clever to update the swinging 60’s sound for the 90’s.  They were successful with horrible results: Walking on the Sun, All Star, and the dreaded Monkees cover. All vomit inducing 90’s time caps that remind us today just how much most of the 90’s really sucked.

Abraxas: Someone needs to explain this to me because I still don’t get it.  These guys are lounge singers that dress like a ska band!  They covered the Monkees!  The Monkees are original fake studio band and Smash Mouth covered them!  Does no one else see this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

  • U2

Cosmo: You’re wondering why they’re on this list, aren’t you?

Abraxas: You’re thinkng, “Bu…bu…Joshua TreeAchtung Baby…those were great, guys!”  And you’re right.  Those are brilliant albums. From the early 90’s.

Cosmo: Amazing when you think about it.  They built the Joshua Tree and then chopped it down with Achtung Baby.  Freaking brilliant!

Abraxas: And then they did the soundtrack to Batman Lame staring Val Kilmer with Hold Me, Kiss me, Thrill Me, Kill Me and sold all that awesome down the drain.

Cosmo: These guys were the greatest band in the world and they produce that turkey?  Come on!  Weird Al got it right when he turned it into a song about going to the dentist.

Abraxas: Yeah, that thrill me crap took them on the fast train to Sellout town where they went on tour with crap like Popmart.  NO! Don’t give me a line about how it was all ironic. ZOOTV was ironic. Popmart was just crap.   Have I said crap enough?  No I haven’t!  Crap crap crap.   There!

Cosmo: ZOOTV was great tour!  And then U2 thought it was a good idea to not record with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanious after the success of Acthung Baby.  They released dreadful electro records like Passengers where they sang about Giant Flys, the Playboy mansion, and staring at the Sun while thinking it was cool to play concerts in K Mart.

Abraxas: Keep trying to save starving kids in Africa, Bono, and maybe one day it will make up for what you did.

  • Bush

Cosmo: Bush, oh Bush…first the name?  Bush is god awful. Gavin Rossdale is a Jimbo.  That is the only thing that band had going for them.  What the hell is Glycerin about?  Glycerin is a moisturizer! So Gavin’s lady at the time was a moisturizer? He’s singing about a moisturizer? This is what we were stuck with in the 90’s. She’s got a machine head and she’s a moisturizer. Sure, Gavin. Oh, and what about that Out of Print solo album? Man, you would be cleaning toilets if not for Gwen.

Abraxas: The only reason they were successful?  Gavin was extremely good looking.  I have yet to meet a woman who was a teen in the 90’s who wouldn’t stab someone for a shot at that guy.  Seriously.  Machine Head this, pal!  Did you know he used to be in a Hair Metal band?

Cosmo: I did!  It was called Midnight, and it was so lame Gavin quit the band he formed. Here’s a picture!

  • Lenny Kravitz

Cosmo: Oh, yeah, there’s a special place for you here, Denim Cowboy. Lenny thought it was a good idea to bare his chest, do high kicks and rip of Hendrix riffs.   Kravitz is a great producer, no doubts.  He did a lot of good stuff for other artists back in the day.  He used to do this crazy act in LA with blue contact lenses when he called himself Romeo Blue.

Abraxas: Next thing you know he’s covering KISS and the Guess Who and making his way to the bank.  I guess that interest R&B took a back seat to collecting a fat pay check, huh?

Cosmo: And just as the decade started with a festival of music, it ended on a so-called festival of music.  Woodstock 99.  If  Lollapalooza was the first shot of a revolution, Woodstock 99 was the shot that killed it.

Abraxas: Wow, what a dismal failure of a festival.

Cosmo: The corporate greed hounds, not satisfied they had sucked Lollapalooza dry decided to take one more crack at the definitive Boomer concert, Woodstock. Instead of being about free love, bad acid, and sex Woodstock 99 was hemmed in with Plywood fencing, $12 pizza slices, and not enough toilets.

Abraxas: No joke, people were walking around in their own crap, it was that bad.  Water went for $4 a bottle.  People dug up and cracked open the water pipes to get to water.  It was held at the grounds of the closed Griffiss Air Force Base.  This is ironic for two reasons; one, the base was named after the first American causality due to friendly fired during WWII, Lt Col Townsend E. Griffiss, and two, the former Air Force base was a Superfund site.  For the Home Schooled: a Superfund site is an area the Federal Government had declared to be too toxic for human habitation and needs to be cleaned before people are allowed to be there.

Cosmo: MTV, who was supposed to be covering Woodstock 99 live, pulled their crew because it was too dangerous!  Anthony Kiedis, front man for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, said from the stage the whole thing looked like a scene from Apocalypse Now.

Abraxas: And then the rioting started.

Cosmos: Well, Fred Durst went on stage.  Can you blame them?

Abraxas: Not really.  I’d riot if I had to pay money to see Limp Biscuit too.

Cosmos: Hah! Yeah.  Woodstock 99 is an example of what went wrong in the 90’s.  A cultural shift was co-opted by corporate greed and squeezed for all the cash it could generate until people got hurt.

Abraxas: And there it is!  5 of the most artistically bankrupt acts from the 90s.   Don’t agree with our list?  Got a list of your own?  Post it down below.

Cosmo: We’ll leave you with the rallying cry of the 90’s generation, Gen X.



Giving credit where credit is due…

This was my idea.

Posted June 05, 2010 07:06 pm

Also, Creed released “Human Clay” in 1999 and fully deserves to be on this list in place of Bush. In fact, I think you could find quite a few acts from the 90s WAY, WAY more ‘artistically bankrupt’ than Bush.

Posted June 05, 2010 07:06 pm
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