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Culture Forum

  1. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    15 Sep '08 01:15 / 1 edit
    Alan Cross is a radio host of several music shows here in the Toronto area. He's been on the radio for several decades and probably knows more about music than just about anyone in this area. I've copied some of his comments from his radio show, "The ongoing History of New Music".

    It's a discussion about how the internet is affecting music today. Some interesting comments. I know Darv won't agree since he made fun of me for suggesting the internet has played a role in limiting the production of a new genre of music, but I'll post this anyway. If you want to listen to the show, i'll post the link below. The radio shows are interesting and def worth a listen on a rainy post hurricane Sunday afternoon. Enjoy.

    ------------------------------------------------

    The grunge era was great while it lasted. For most of us, it ran from 1990 to sometime in 1996. I say grunge was completely dead by November '96 because by that time, The Spice Girls and The Backstreet Boys had their debut albums out and were storming the charts. But to everything, there is a season. Turn, turn, turn and all that. And its legacy continues, thanks to what has become classic music, some of the greatest songs in the history of rock. Will we ever see the likes of this again? Let me leave you with a discussion point: will we ever see a rock'n'roll movement as big and and widespread as grunge ever again? I don't think so - and here's why. Grunge and the alternative explosion of the early 90s happened just before the rise of the internet. Technology has since allowed each of us to pick and choose our music on an individual level. We can choose from a nearly infinite supply of music 24/7. We don't bond over cds or any other physical music product. Hell, surveys say that half the teenagers in North America didn't spend a single penny on cds last year. All their music came via file-sharing. With his super-customization comes a lack of consensus. If each of us is free to go our own way, the master herd - the music community as a whole - becomes fractured into hundreds (if not thousands or even tens of thousands) of smaller tribes. Widespread, mass consensus eludes music now. Things are becoming much more niche-y. Instead, we're into the era of the celebrity. This is why Britney Spears is more popular as a whacko than she is as a singer. I'm not saying that all this is good for bad. It just is. We're moving beyond the era of the mega-star and into the era of a la carte. And it's all thanks to technology. That's my opinion, anyway.

    -Alan Cross

    http://ongoinghistory.com/oghonm/ongoing_history_of_new_music.cfm?recID=1&ell=8943&pge=1#
  2. Standard member PBE6
    Bananarama
    15 Sep '08 16:26 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by uzless
    Alan Cross is a radio host of several music shows here in the Toronto area. He's been on the radio for several decades and probably knows more about music than just about anyone in this area. I've copied some of his comments from his radio show, "The ongoing History of New Music".

    It's a discussion about how the internet is affecting music today. Some ghistory.com/oghonm/ongoing_history_of_new_music.cfm?recID=1&ell=8943&pge=1#
    Just some food for thought, here are the top-selling albums in the United States released in and around the grunge period ('88-'97):

    1988-1990
    Journey - "Greatest Hits" - 15x platinum (1988)

    1990
    Garth Brooks - "No Fences" - 17x platinum
    Madonna - "The Immaculate Collection" - 10x platinum

    1991
    Garth Brooks - "Ropin' the Wind" - 14x platinum
    Metallica - "Metallica" (a.k.a. The Black Album) - 14x platinum
    Pearl Jam - "Ten" - 12x platinum
    Nirvana - "Nevermind" - 10x platinum

    1992
    Whitney Houston - "The Bodyguard" - 17x platinum
    Kenny G - "Breathless" - 12x platinum

    1993
    Mariah Carey - "Music Box" - 10x platinum

    1994
    Hootie and the Blowfish - "Cracked Rear View" - 16x platinum
    Boyz II Men - "II" - 12x platinum
    Various Artists - "Forrest Gump" (soundtrack) - 12x platinum
    TLC - "CrazySexyCool" = 11x platinum
    Green Day - "Dookie" - 10 x platinum

    1995
    Alanis Morissette - "Jagged Little Pill" - 16x platinum
    Jewel - "Pieces of You" - 12x platinum
    Shania Twain - "The Woman in Me" - 12x platinum
    Mariah Carey - "Daydream" - 10x platinum
    No Doubt - "Tragic Kingdom" - 10x platinum

    1996
    Matchbox Twenty - "Yourself or Someone Like You" - 12x platinum
    Celine Dion - "Falling Into You" - 11x platinum

    1997-1998
    Shania Twain - "Come On Over" - 20x platinum (1997)
    Backstreet Boys - "Backstreet Boys" - 14x platinum (1997)
    Various Artists - "Titanic" (soundtrack) - 11x platinum (1997)
    Celine Dion - "Let's Talk About Love" - 10x platinum (1997)
    The Notorous B.I.G. - "Life After Death" - 10x platinum (1997)
    Garth Brooks - "Double Live" - 21x platinum (1998)
    Dixie Chicks - "Wide Open Spaces" - 12x platinum (1998)
    *NSYNC - "*NSYNC" - 11x platinum (1998)
    Kid Rock - "Devil Without a Cause" - 11x platinum (1998)

    (statistics taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_albums_in_the_United_States)
  3. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    15 Sep '08 18:02 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by PBE6
    Just some food for thought, here are the top-selling albums in the United States released in and around the grunge period ('88-'97):

    [b]1988-1990

    Journey - "Greatest Hits" - 15x platinum (1988)

    1990
    Garth Brooks - "No Fences" - 17x platinum
    Madonna - "The Immaculate Collection" - 10x platinum

    1991
    Garth Brooks - "Ropin' the Wind" g_albums_in_the_United_States)[/b]
    Okay but i'm not sure what the point is. Sales do not always show what was going on in the music industry. "Punk" sales in the 70's I dare say did not top the sales list either. Nor did the "New Wave" movement of the 80's. At least on this list we see some evidence of it with the inclusion of Nirvana/pearl Jam. Punk and New wave have no bands listed on that sales list for their given time frame.

    The "masses" will always buy their light fluffy junk regardless of which way the music industry is turning.

    I don't think sales relate to anything substantial other than to say most people are idiots.

  4. Standard member PBE6
    Bananarama
    15 Sep '08 18:10
    Soundgarden wasn't included on any lists, but "Badmotorfinger" (1991) went 2x platinum, while "Superunknown" (1994) went 5x platinum. I also looked for other Nirvana and Pearl Jam album stats, and found out "Bleach" (1989) went 4x platinum, "In Utero" (1993) went 5x platinum, "Vs." (1993) went 7x platinum, "Vitalogy" (1994) went 5x platinum, and "No Code" (1996) went 1x platinum. Oh, "Yield" (1998) also went 1x platinum.

    So in total, Nirvana sold about 19 million albums, Pearl Jam sold about 26 million, and Soundgarden sold about 7 million. In total, that's about 52 million albums. The top selling albums from 1990-1996 accounted for about 260 million album sales, with total industry "units shipped" for those 7 years listed as 6,890 million albums. The number of "retail units", which I assume is how many were actually sold, is usually about 75% of this figure judging by subsequent years, for a total of about 5,200 million albums.

    In album terms, grunge accounted for about 52 million / 260 million = 20% of the top album sales, and about 52 million / 5,200 million = 1% of total album sales. Nothing to sneeze at to be sure, but is this the "grunge explosion" we hear about? To contrast, Garth Brooks sold 52 million albums by himself during roughly the same period (1990-1998).

    I think Alan Cross, a music reporter I have great respect for, must have been including the cultural aspects of the grunge era when he referred to it as an "explosion", which is fair enough I think. However, it makes it tricky to describe exactly what an explosion of the same magnitude would look like - do we have to delve into flannel sales at Walmart for this?
  5. Standard member PBE6
    Bananarama
    15 Sep '08 18:23 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by uzless
    Okay but i'm not sure what the point is. Sales do not always show what was going on in the music industry. "Punk" sales in the 70's I dare say did not top the sales list either. Nor did the "New Wave" movement of the 80's. At least on this list we see some evidence of it with the inclusion of Nirvana/pearl Jam. Punk and New wave have no bands listed o k sales relate to anything substantial other than to say most people are idiots.

    Actually, sales usually show exactly what's going on in the music industry. They don't necessarily show evidence of stylistic trends and influences amongst music makers, nor do they show levels of music consumption through radio, television, mix-tape trading or downloads on Kazaa, but they do show you how many people were compelled to part with their cash in order to buy a given album (either because the music moved them, or their friends/children/media did - the music industry doesn't really care which). Music may be about many things, but the music industry is about sales.

    EDIT: BTW, how are we supposed to answer a question like "will we ever see a rock'n'roll movement as big and and widespread as grunge ever again?" without getting an idea of what big and widespread mean?
  6. 15 Sep '08 18:27
    Originally posted by uzless
    I say grunge was completely dead by November '96 because by that time, The Spice Girls and The Backstreet Boys had their debut albums out and were storming the charts. But to everything, there is a season. Turn, turn, turn and all that. And its legacy continues, thanks to what has become classic music, some of the greatest songs in the history of rock.
    What is its legacy? What followed as a result of grunge could possibly be the worst collection of imitation rock ever. Bands like Creed, Nickelback, Live, Collective Soul, Candlebox, Matchbox 20 and other bands that were mass-marketed in the wake of the so-called alternative era give me a bad case of the shudders.
  7. 15 Sep '08 18:30 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by PBE6
    Music may be about many things; the least important of these things is the music industry, which is about sales.
    Fixed.
  8. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    15 Sep '08 18:32 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by PBE6

    EDIT: BTW, how are we supposed to answer a question like "will we ever see a rock'n'roll movement as big and and widespread as grunge ever again?" without getting an idea of what [b]big
    and widespread mean?[/b]
    It means the same as when people talk about the "Punk Movement" of the 70's and the "New Wave" movement of the 80's. They were BIG and WIDESPREAD but you won't see it if all you look at are total sales volumes.

    Besides, any calculation are going to be biased because a couple of non-grunge type albums that sell 100 million copies are going to skew the stats making the stats meaningless.

    It's like Nortel in their heyday. Their stock at one point accounted for almost 10% of the value of the TSX stock exhange. When their stock crashed people reported it as the "the tsx crashed 5 percent today", but really it was just Nortel's stock dropping but since it represented so much of the tsx it appeared the tsx was doing poorly when in fact, it was just Nortel.
  9. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    15 Sep '08 18:36 / 2 edits
    Originally posted by darvlay
    What is its legacy? What followed as a result of grunge could possibly be the worst collection of imitation rock ever. Bands like Creed, Nickelback, Live, Collective Soul, Candlebox, Matchbox 20 and other bands that were mass-marketed in the wake of the so-called alternative era give me a bad case of the shudders.
    granted, but during that time frame (1995-2000) is the same time frame the radio stations were being bought up by Corus and Viacom who then mass marketed generic "copy cat" bands (who were signed to their labels on their subsidiaries!) down the idiot masses throats who lapped it up like it was man juice.


    Because of this, I don't think the bands that followed 1990-1994 should somehow make a statement towards their legacy. It's legacy should just be songs that were created during its own time frame.


    BUT anyway, what about the internet comments? (the reason i posted this in the first place)
  10. Standard member PBE6
    Bananarama
    15 Sep '08 18:38
    Originally posted by darvlay
    Fixed.
    Think so? You have the distribution networks set up by major labels and exploited by indie labels to thank (and curse) for any album you bought in a store (even those placed in the store by the band themselves on consignment) or online. Prior to 1997, I'm going to estimate this makes up at least half of your CD collection, and probably a lot more. Not every music fan can buy as much merch at live shows as you, Darv.
  11. 15 Sep '08 18:40
    Originally posted by uzless
    BUT anyway, what about the internet comments? (the reason i posted this in the first place)
    I agree 100% with his comments.
  12. 15 Sep '08 18:42
    Originally posted by PBE6
    Think so? You have the distribution networks set up by major labels and exploited by indie labels to thank (and curse) for any album you bought in a store (even those placed in the store by the band themselves on consignment) or online. Prior to 1997, I'm going to estimate this makes up at least half of your CD collection, and probably a lot more. Not every music fan can buy as much merch at live shows as you, Darv.
    Point taken.
  13. Standard member uzless
    The So Fist
    15 Sep '08 18:48
    Originally posted by PBE6
    Think so? You have the distribution networks set up by major labels and exploited by indie labels to thank (and curse) for any album you bought in a store (even those placed in the store by the band themselves on consignment) or online. Prior to 1997, I'm going to estimate this makes up at least half of your CD collection, and probably a lot more. Not every music fan can buy as much merch at live shows as you, Darv.
    Let me turn this around then.


    Do YOU agree there was a 70's Punk "movement" and an 80's "New Wave" movement?

    If so, how do YOU quantify it?
  14. Standard member PBE6
    Bananarama
    15 Sep '08 19:09
    Originally posted by uzless
    Let me turn this around then.


    Do YOU agree there was a 70's Punk "movement" and an 80's "New Wave" movement?

    If so, how do YOU quantify it?
    I do agree. Now let's turn this around one more time, so that the question is pointing in the proper direction.

    How BIG were the movements? How WIDESPREAD were they?
  15. Standard member PBE6
    Bananarama
    15 Sep '08 19:10
    As I alluded to in my second post (the one that explains the stats):

    I think Alan Cross, a music reporter I have great respect for, must have been including the cultural aspects of the grunge era when he referred to it as an "explosion", which is fair enough I think. However, it makes it tricky to describe exactly what an explosion of the same magnitude would look like - do we have to delve into flannel sales at Walmart for this?