What Was Music Like 20 Years Ago?

VICE is turning 20, so we decided to look back in time.

by Noisey Staff
Dec 5 2014, 6:17pm

In case you haven't heard, VICE is turning 20 today. We're throwing a massive party tonight to celebrate—with performances from Lil Wayne, Jarvis Cocker, Jonah Hill, and yeah holy shit we know just go look at the lineup. So as we look back at the storied history of our parent publication, we began to wonder, what was music like in 1994? Some of you probably weren't even born, and the rest of you had probably just pooped your pants. So, for #knowledge, here is a big list of what the fuck music was like 20 years ago. (Don't worry: it was still dope.)

•Everyone was wearing flannel and baby doll lace dresses and DMs and going heavy with the kohl eyeliner… oh.

•Varg Vikernes was a free man (though he was definitely already an asshole).

•If you were a teenage girl your ovaries were exploding over Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life even though he couldn’t read and could barely verbalize thought and when Frozen Embryos covered “I Wanna Be Sedated” that was the first time you heard The Ramones.

•All these people had hair: Billy Corgan, Tim Armstrong, Ian Mackaye (kinda).

•So apparently Noisey editors Dan Ozzi and Kim Taylor-Bennett were doing the same thing in 1994, lighting candles and incense and watching a taped off the TV copy of Nirvana: Unplugged and wailing uncontrollably.

•Pulp Fiction came out and guys started wearing Hawaiian shirts unironically, girls chopped their hair into sleek Cleopatra bobs, and everyone started snorting loads of cocaine, driving around on heroin, and accidentally shooting people in the face. Jokes. But we all got into Dick Dale and began shimmying around like Mia Wallace versus Vince Vega. More importantly the Tarantino-curated blockbuster soundtrack was as important to the movie as the one-liners we still quote today. Do you think Baz Luhrmann would’ve tried so hard with the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack two years later without Quentin killing it in 94? Nope. Thanks QT!

•The term hipster as we know it did not exist. It was all about Gen X and the collective cultural enemies were still yuppies. (See Reality Bites for further insight into 1994’s cultural cannon. Thank you Ben Stiller for intro-ing a whole new generation to The Knack’s “My Sharona”).

•If you wanted to hear a song, you had to wait by the radio for hours with your finger hovering over the record button, waiting to hear “Say It Ain’t So.” Your cassette recording of it then had a DJ talking over the intro/outro.

•Korn’s video for “Blind” made it onto MTV, but no one really gave a shit about nu-metal until a few years later... and by then, it was too late. Ozzfest launched the next year, and shortly thereafter, because there is no justice in this world, Fred Durst and his dumbass baseball cap were well on their way to stardom.

•Remember that time TLC’s Lisa Left Eye Lopes went postal on her man and set his shoes on fire and ended up burning down their entire mansion? Awks.

•If you wanted to see a video, you had to wake up early in the morning and watch reruns of and sit through Matt Pinfield.

•Without cell phones, you had to tell your friend to meet you outside the venue at 9 PM and if they weren’t there, well, good luck!

•You probably received a Discman for your birthday but realized it sucked ass because it skipped every time you tried to walk across the room with it, let alone taking it outside, so you switched back to a Walkman for the stroll to school.

•Outkast were putting out their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmusik, kicking off ten more years of people from New York being incredulous that great rap music could come out of Atlanta.

•Trip-hop was born! Portishead dropped Dummy and it became the soundtrack to all kinds of fucked up stoned sexcapades.

•Williamsburg had not yet been discovered by settlers.

(By this book here)

•The Lion King released, which means Elton John “The Circle of Life” was born.

•Rammstein was formed, and embarked upon their true calling: to thrill underage goth girls, intrigue closeted businessmen, and enrage stagehands across the globe.

•Gwen Stefani turned 25, and remained that age forever.

•If you lived in the UK in 1994 chances are you were either getting fucked up in Brixton clubs dancing to jungle, drawing hearts around which member of Take That you wanted to have babies with in your copy of Smash Hits, or listening to grunge and thinking, “Croydon is as rainy as Seattle so I can relate.” But there was a faction of British music fans that were fed the fuck up with America and grunge and that included Noel and Liam Gallagher and Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon. Oasis and Blur’s respective releases of Definitely Maybe and Parklife in 1994, altered the landscape of music and lit up the British charts. Plus everyone began dressing like they were in Quadrophenia (Blur fans), or like they were a bucket hat wearing drug dealer who’d glass you if you so much as glanced at his bird (Oasis).

•Mayhem’s black metal landmark De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was released shortly after the funeral of founding member and alleged techno fanboy Euronymous, forever securing Norway’s reputation as the most metal place on earth.

•Jeff Buckley releases Grace but let’s be honest, people didn’t pay that much attention to it till he was dead two years later. That being said is one of the best records from the 90s. Don’t fight us on this one.

•Wet Wet Wet was everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.

•The Beastie Boys released the best music video ever for “Sabotage,” which is the only time aviators will ever be cool to wear.

•MTV was actually a thing?

Seinfeld was actually on TV. No one had to imagen anything.

•Earl Sweatshirt was born. So was Justin Bieber. And Harry Styles. And Bobby Shmurda.

•Michael Jackson made out with Lisa Marie Presley onstage at the MTV Video Music Awards and made everyone reeeeal uncomfortable.

•Green Day did not yet look like the Golden Girls.

•Illmatic was not yet the best hip-hop album of all time because it had just been released, and it would have been premature to call something the best of all time when it was so brand new, you know?

•Same with Ready to Die.