This series eventually had to come to an end, and here we are. We are standing on the cusp of a new decade, a new century, a new millennium, and things were changing. I was turning less often to new music for solace and more often to the music of my youth, essentially the first decade of this series. Now, my boys were into their teenage years, and their music was beginning to sound a little foreign to me. Certainly, there were strains of my music in theirs (They hated it when I was constantly telling them that their pop punk bands were just watered down Cheap Trick, though they both agree now.). But, now it was all morphing into something that I did not recognize. I found that realization both sad and frustrating. However, it is all part of evolution.
Once the 21st century began, I could no longer choose 50 albums that I liked each year. Unfortunately, rock and roll, which had been based upon the new technology of the day from its rudimentary sounds up through the CD and digital recording techniques was initially befuddled by the internet and music-sharing sites such as Napster, Limewire and the like. At first, the music industry attempted to fight this new technology, the first time a new technology was not embraced first by the rock world.
Simultaneously, television began to dive full force into reality-based programming, ironically enough started by MTV with The Real World. During the reality TV boom of the late-90s and early-2000s, American Idol debuted. It was a success right out of the gate, which promised singers from backwoods America riches and an entertainment career. And, that first was magical, because the program did discover one of the millennials’ own voice of a generation with champion Kelly Clarkson. But, in the intervening years, fewer and fewer contestants and champions became household names, like Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Also, in the wake of AI‘s success, there was a glut of singing shows with little long term talents coming out of them.
So, the local bar circuits were decimated by these programs. The record companies and many artists (Metallica!) were alienating their fans by fighting Napster and the file-sharing sites. And, recording studios were becoming obsolete as artists could now record their music on their iPhones, allowing them to string bits of performances of a song into a whole new hit. No longer was musicianship nor high quality vocals necessary for pop success. And, since little of these technologies were initially embraced by the rock community, rock began to die, or in my mind, go dormant.
Therefore, to me, 1999 represents one of the last full breaths of rock music before it embraced the whole nostalgia touring mentality. Nu metal, kind of a hip hop-infused form of metal took center stage with the likes of boy bands and teen girl superstar singers. It made for strange bedfellows on MTV and came to a head at Woodstock ’99 in New York, when everything turned violent after being pummeled all day by the likes of Metallica, The Offspring, Korn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Limp Bizkit, DMX and the like until the fans could no longer hold back their anger and started a Lord of Flies-esque riot.
And, much like Altamont in 1969 put a metaphorical dagger in the heart of the Peace & Love era of Sixties rock music, so to Woodstock ’99 struck a blow to rock in the new century. And, thus, rock was moved to a backburner. Will it come back? Who knows? I hope so. It would be cool if my grandkids’ generation became enthralled by the music collections of their grandparents and great-grandparents and inspired to pickup rock instruments to start garage bands all over the world. At least, that’s my dream.
So, was the music of my wheelhouse better than anyone else’s? Well, Boomers had the 50s, 60s AND 70s covered, while the 80s and 90s were not too alienating to them. Us Gen X-ers ran the 70s, 80s and 90s hard and believe our music has legs and is every bit as important as the Boomers’ music. But, the music of the millennials right now appears that most of it is made only for the moment. Seriously, is anyone nostalgic for “Blurred Lines” or “Boom Boom Boom”? And, where is Flo Rida these days? Or is Pitbul really bigger than Menudo? Sure, Kendrick Lamar, Brandi Carlile, Lady Gaga, Halsey, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket and The Killers are just a few of the legit millennial stars, but they are no way as deep of a list as the superstars of the Boomers or Gen X.
So, let’s raise a glass to rock and roll! May it live on, and may it find its way into the blood of future generations. Now, let’s take a look at 1999.
50. Creed – Human Clay
49. Mariah Carey – Rainbow
48. Wilco – Summerteeth
47. Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
46. Tom Waits – Mule Variations
45. Jay-Z – Vol. 3: The Life & Times of S. Carter
44. Counting Crows – This Desert Life
43. Le Tigre – Le Tigre
42. Destiny’s Child – The Writing’s on the Wall
41. Sisqo – Unleash the Dragon
40. MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday
39. Low – Christmas
38. Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals – Burn to Shine
37. Aimee Mann – Magnolia [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
36. Mary J. Blige – Mary
35. Metallica – S&M
34. Dido – No Angel
33. Ricky Martin – Ricky Martin
32. Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs
31. Korn – Issues
30. Blur – 13
29. Beck – Midnite Vultures
28. Tal Bachman – Tal Bachman
27. Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun
26. Backstreet Boys – Millennium
25. Incubus – Make Yourself
24. Christina Aguilera – Christina Aguilera
23. Limp Bizkit – Significant Other
22. The (Dixie) Chicks – Fly
21. Moby – Play
20. Sting – Brand New Day
19. Dr. Dre – 2001
18. Macy Gray – On How Life Is
17. DMX – …And Then There Was X
16. Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time
15. Slipknot – Slipknot
14. The Merrymakers – Bubblegun
13. Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
12. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Californication
11. Shelby Lynne – I Am Shelby Lynne
10. The Roots – Things Fall Apart
9. Len – You Can’t Stop the Bum Rush
8. Fiona Apple – When the Pawn…
7. Foo Fighters – There Is Nothing Left to Loose
6. Blink-182 – Enema of the State
5. Santana – Supernatural
4. Fountains of Wayne – Utopia Parkway
3. Rage Against the Machine – The Battle of Los Angeles
2. TLC – Fanmail
1. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP