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"Just in time for the Fall Arbitron. Who’d have thought that core artists on Alt in fall 2002 would include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers!?"
——Dave Beasing, Jacobs Media
IT’S DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
HITS' Ivana B. Adored Examines 2002 and Sees 1991
On Sept. 24, 1991, Nirvana’s Nevermind was released. Eleven years later, the parent company of the band’s former label DGC marked the day by sending C&Ds to radio stations playing the "new" unreleased Nirvana song, "You Know You’re Right," which they had downloaded from the Internet. KROQ added the song Tuesday—hadn’t Kevin Weatherly just begun to program the station when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" exploded? The Samuel Bayer-directed clip was a watershed video on MTV’s Alternative Nation, the first show former KROQ PD Andy Schuon developed during his tenure at MTV.

Where were you on Sept. 24, 1991? Mark Kates headed up the PoMo promo dept. at DGC, Ted Volk was the Boston local and Ross "Roth" Zapin was the NYC local, to name a few Geffen alums. I was at HITS, whining about PMS and deadline (I’m living the movie Groundhog’s Day). Oedipus and Steven Strick were at WBCN, Robert Benjamin and Bob Waugh were at WHFS, Gene Sandbloom was at KROQ, Howie Miura was at Island, Mary Shuminas was working at a Chicago A/C station that is now Q101, Tom Biery was moving up the ranks at Warners and Leslie Fram was working at 99X. The rest of the PoMo world (I’m old) were probably moshing to Nirvana at junior high pep rallies (I’m old), although it was certainly exciting to be in the thick of it (I’m old).

Epic Records released Pearl Jam’s 10 on August 27, 1991. Steve Backer was running PoMo promotion back then, and radio did not want to play "Alive." Today, the new Pearl Jam single, "I Am Mine" was #1 Most Added at PoMo. Most of the PoMo stations adding "I Am Mine" this week owe their very existence to bands like Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

The "grunge" explosion validated the viability of marketing to the newly named Generation X audience. Dozens of "Edge" stations were launched to target this demo (and advertisers lined up to deplete them of their disposable income). This was hardly the first time an underground musical movement had permeated the mainstream, but never before had it created such a wide-scale "opportunity" to sell other products. New forms of alcohol, cars and clothing were created specifically for this burgeoning audience. Remember Marc Jacobshomage to grunge as a designer at Perry Ellis? It ended his career at Perry Ellis, although his current collection for his eponymous label is a luxe version of the same theme.

You might want to pull those flannel shirts out of storage because next week’s Most Added record is definitely "Cochise" by Epic’s Audioslave, the collaboration between Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and Rage Against the Machine. Although Soundgarden had released a few records in the late ’80s (I should know, I worked them at A&M), their breakthrough record, Badmotorfinger, was released on Sept. 8, 1991. (The Temple of the Dog record, a tribute to the late Andrew Wood from Mother Love Bone, had been out since April, but "Hunger Strike" didn’t go on the radio until the end of ’91). Audioslave is by no means a retro band, and the music I’ve heard is as visionary as one would hope a collaboration of this magnitude would produce.

 Jacobs Media’s Dave Beasing and I were chatting about these records yesterday, to which he said, "Just in time for the Fall Arbitron. Who’d have thought that core artists on Alt in fall 2002 would include Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers!?" I wanted to point out that he should include Queens of the Stone Age in that list, since Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan (as well as Nirvana grad Grohl) is now a contributing member of Queens, but I guess they haven’t yet been elevated into the "core."

Perhaps it would’ve been a good time to jump on my Flaming Lips soapbox, especially since their new single, "Do You Realize?" is going for adds next week, and this is a band that has been making genre-defining music since 1987, so they’re absolutely part of my core. But I offered a more general observation, that maybe the format’s eager anticipation of new music from artists like Nirvana and Pearl Jam means the audience is finally over mainstream corporate rock bands masquerading as PoMo and fourth-generation muppet rock.

Did the untimely, tragic deaths of so many of the format’s brightest stars mean you had to start playing music that sucked? Why do you think the 18-24 demo is embracing bands like The Strokes, The Vines, Sparta, The White Stripes, Bright Eyes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sahara Hotnights, et al.? It sounds completely fresh and original to them! Even if we can play "name the influences," we all agree the influences are worth mining. I want OK Go to grow up and become the next Cheap Trick! Let me feel about the band Ours the way I felt about Jeff Buckley. Why shouldn’t Jimmy Eat World be this generation’s R.E.M.?

Truly important music will survive your exacting (and often misguided) analysis. We were expecting a new musical movement to emerge in the wake of 9/11. But by 9/25, it was back to business as usual. And business is terrible right now. Who knows if any of us will still have our current jobs in one year, let alone 11 years. Add a record next week because you want everyone you know to hear this song, because you know that listening to this artist makes you feel invincible. Promo peeps should talk up a record that inspires them, regardless of what label it’s on. Why the fuck not?

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