I made a 100-song playlist to argue that 1994 was the best - or at least one of the very best - years for music ever. I was 14 at the time, so I’m a little biased.
I would say yes! And then I would also say no. It was strange to listen to this playlist. 1994 was the year I was a senior in high school, and also the year that I graduated and experienced my first six months of a study abroad in Latvia, so the combination of indie rock and euro pop is PERFECT. This is exactly what 1994 sounded like to me. “Loser” blasting from the Scirocco before tennis practice*, dancing to “The Sign” with Swedish sailors in a cheap nightclub in Riga. But really, when you start to listen to it all? The most diversity doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best quality. It sounds to me kind of like the beginning of the end. Grunge was in its twilight, raves were public knowledge, Tupac wasn’t much longer for this earth, and Lisa Loeb and Crash Test Dummies, to me, were symptoms of the freedom alternative airplay was giving artists, and how indiscriminating we were becoming in that freedom.
But then again, maybe that’s just where my head was.
Maybe the music that’s around when you’re 14 feels perfect, and the music that’s around when you’re 18 is, well, starting to sound disappointing? A reminder that people are starting to peel off into categories, whereas when we were 14, we were still happy to explore ALL categories. Case in point: at 14, I honestly loved REM and Vanilla Ice equally. At 18, I never would have allowed myself to admit to liking the Lion King soundtrack. In fact, I still won’t. I actively dislike that soundtrack.
I agree that the diversity was there, I just don’t think it was common for people in 1994 to listen to all of it. Certainly not where I lived. (Though, to be fair, 1994 was the year I heard a punk band cover Reel 2 Real’s “I Like To Move It” in the catacombs of a darkened club in Latvia, the entire crowd and band headbanging their way through the chorus.)
I’m of this opinion instead: 1994 was the last really good year for music. I’ve long contended that I could do without any band that formed after 1994 (I realize this makes me sound like a YouTube commenter who talks about how nothing good came after the 70s). I might even stretch this to say any ALBUM that came out after 1994, but I’m still precious about a few of the outliers.
But maybe we all say that about the music from the year we turn 18 and leave home for the first time? I’d be interested in hearing what Mr. Perpetua though of 1998…
(Really though: great playlist. My 18-year-old self is loving most of it, and totally rolling her eyes at the rest.)
*Technically, that would have been 1993…