10 Reasons 1994 Was the Best Year for Music

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Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

5. Underrated Year for Indie Rock While pop was booming, Pavement released Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, their best album. At the same time, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. were all putting out great music. Former Pixies frontman Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black and released Teenager of the Year, an unrestrained masterpiece that could have been a great Pixies record had the group still been together.

Nirvana - Unplugged in New York

4. Mainstream Rock Didn't Suck Radio-friendly rock was actually great at one time. Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden all released brilliant records that got radio play in 1994. But it was Nirvana, with the release of its MTV Unplugged album that year, that ruled mainstream rock. Kurt Cobain behind an acoustic guitar, barely able to project his voice, was the closest we'd ever get to John Lennon. It was depressing but, at the same time, with his death that year, a touching adieu to the "Seattle Sound" from its greatest voice.

Green Day - Dookie

3. Punk Becomes Pop In 1994, Green Day's Dookie was released, Blink-182's first studio album hit and Bad Religion signed to a major label. The emergence of "pop punk" also gave rise to Rancid's blistering sophomore effort, Let's Go, and the introduction of Weezer, whose video for "Buddy Holly" imitated Nirvana, but also rebelled against them with a bright blue album cover and catchy hooks. For the kids, pop punk replaced grunge and, like it or not, gave us the Warped Tour in 1995 and loads of anthemic hits in the 2000s.

Nas - Illmatic

2. Hip-Hop Gets ill If the debut of Notorious B.I.G, Lauryn Hill and Outkast wasn't big enough, on the West Coast, Snoop's "Gin and Juice" and Warren G's "Regulate" raised the stakes. Then of course there was the Beastie Boys' Ill Communication ("Sabotage" took over MTV in 1994) and underground hip-hop's storytelling epic Illmatic -- which lived up to all the hype behind Nas that year. Hip-hop may never be as good again.

Weezer - Blue Album

1. Great Debuts In 1967, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors and Velvet Underground all debuted in the same year. But 1994 remains a close second, because in just one year, record labels decided they needed either the new Nirvana or the next underground-turned-pop success story. The result was magic: Weezer, Outkast, Beck (his major-label debut), Notorious B.I.G., Jeff Buckley, Warren G, Marilyn Manson, Oasis, Korn, Aaliyah, Elliott Smith, Nas, Portishead, the Magnetic Fields and Brandy all debuted in 1994. (OK, so did Bush and the Dave Matthews Band.) 1994 had something for everyone and, unlike any other year, it was a time when the pop and underground scenes melted together to give us greatness.


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