Should ’90s Nostalgia Be the New ’60s Nostalgia?

TLC Smashing Pumpkins TLC Smashing Pumpkins.jpg - Credit: Ron Davis/Getty Images; Paul Natkin/Getty Images
TLC Smashing Pumpkins TLC Smashing Pumpkins.jpg - Credit: Ron Davis/Getty Images; Paul Natkin/Getty Images

The further we get from the Nineties, the more it looks like a series of musical golden ages all stacked atop one another, a kaleidoscopic moment when grimy hip-hop and future-shock R&B hit artistic and commercial peaks at the same time as a procession of fuzz-pedal-toting rock bands found themselves at the center of pop culture.

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It was the best-ever era for one-hit wonders, even as major labels — suddenly uncertain in era when Nirvana or Wu-Tang Clan could beat out manicured product — also threw money at career artists from Fiona Apple to Outkast. As with the Sixties, so much happened all at once that we’re still trying to figure it all out, trying to grasp how Smashing Pumpkins, Mobb Deep, Nine Inch Nails, TLC, the Prodigy, the Spice Girls, Radiohead, Los Del Rio, Limp Bizkit, and Billy Ray Cyrus could’ve possibly shared temporal space.

In the new episode of Rolling Stone Music Now, Rob Harvilla — author of the excellent new book 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s joins host Brian Hiatt to try to puzzle through that overstuffed decade.  To hear the whole episode, go here for the podcast provider of your choice, listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or just press play below.

Among other topics, they wonder what the current equivalent of Freedom Rock might be, discuss why Gen X has never matched the boomers’ cultural hegemony, look at how MTV helped maintain a musical monoculture (you knew every second of “No Rain,” whether you liked it or not), and discuss many, many songs, from Outkast’s “Elevators (Me and You)” to Hole’s “Boys on the Radio” to Fastball’s “The Way.”

Download and subscribe to Rolling Stone‘s weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts). Check out six years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Halsey, Neil Young, Snoop Dogg, Brandi Carlile, Phoebe Bridgers, Rick Ross, Alicia Keys, the National, Ice Cube, Taylor Hawkins, Willow, Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Dua Lipa, Questlove, Killer Mike, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, John Legend, Donald Fagen, Charlie Puth, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, and Gary Clark Jr. And look for dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters.

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