The realization happened, like many do, over pints of beer at a Seattle bar.
You know, the most influential year for 1990s music was 1994, my buddy Morgan Marshall said.
What? 1994? But the grunge era started way before that, and monumental rap albums came out years before. Why was 1994 so great?
He made a pretty strong case.
Look at the artists who had debut major-label albums that year: OutKast, Nas, Notorious B.I.G., Warren G, Weezer, Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper, Usher, Soul Coughing, Korn, Bush, Oasis, Keb’ Mo’, Marilyn Manson. Many of those artists are still around today, and those songs from 1994 still resonate.
And the Seattle grunge bands were still big in ’94. Soundgarden released “Superunknown,” which went platinum five times. Pearl Jam released “Vitology” – the one with “Better Man” and “Nothingman” – and Alice In Chains’ “Jar of Flies” became the first EP to debut atop the Billboard 200 album chart.
After Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain died in April 1994, sales of Nirvana albums took off. And their MTV Unplugged disc – considered by some to be the best Unplugged performance – was released in November 1994.
Even bands that were around for decades had big years in ’94. The surviving Beatles officially released their BBC tapes and began recording new songs for their Anthology to release the following year, and The Eagles began their Hell Freezes Over tour – their first since their 1980 breakup. The Rolling Stones released “Voodoo Lounge.”
And don’t forget Woodstock ’94 or Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View,” which sold about 8 gazillion copies. There also were albums – including Snoop Dogg’s “Doggstyle” and Mariah Carey’s “Music Box” – that were released in 1993, but topped the charts in ’94.
Below is a collection of some of most memorable releases from 1994. What do you think? Did 1994 really produce the best albums of the 1990s?
There’s no way to definitively say yes or no, and this post is meant more as a fun launch point for your own discussions – maybe over pints of beer.