Wow, so Nirvana's Nevermind celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Released in September 1991, the album was the first grunge set that went to the No. 1 slot on Billboard's U.S. sales chart. It has since sold more than 30 million albums.
To celebrate, Universal Music Enterprises announced that they're cashing in on the anniversary by releasing a 4-CD/1-DVD Super Deluxe Edition of Nevermind, out on September 20. The CDs will include previously unreleased recordings, rarities, b-sides, BBC radio appearances, alternative mixes, rare live recordings and an unreleased concert in its entirety on DVD.
This whole anniversary got me thinking–I still remember the first time I ever heard Nevermind, on TAPE–and how as a 13-year-old, my taste changed from hair metal to grunge, immediately, and let me to the path of indie rock fandom forever. (My cousin, same age as I was, says Dr. Dre did the same for him, and subsequently ditched his Warrant CDs for anything gangsta rap. How about that for musical forks in the road?)
In keeping with the whole theme of musical paradigm shifts, here's a list of bands that never had a hit after Nirvana's Nevermind took over the American psyche.
10. Wilson Phillips
Not saying that three part harmonies by girl bands were rendered moot after “Smells Like Teen Spirit” invaded the airwaves, but we're pretty sure more people felt safer ridiculing the overproduced, vanilla trio after Kurt Cobain started singing about real pain.
9. Vanilla Ice
Another list, another Vanilla Ice reference. Suffice it to say that Vanilla Ice (like most of the people on this list) never had a hit after Nirvana made it big.
8. Color Me Badd
Nirvana's Nevermind didn't just herald a new sound, it was a fashion movement. Grunge rendered perfume, baggy pants, vests and intricate hair designs shaved onto your skull (or eyebrows) obsolete. Dirty jeans, flannel, t-shirts and Doc Martens became de rigeur for both men and women. Where did that leave Color Me Badd? Nowhere, after 1991.
7. C + C Music Factory/Black Box
These two dance crews made keyboard-heavy hits that mixed hooks, strong vocals and beats and turned them into earworms for the masses. Both groups had a lot of controversy regarding other women in their videos lipsyncing over singer Martha Wash's vocals. That may have helped audiences accept the fact that perfect songs didn't have to come in perfect packages.
Swedish pop acts
5. New Kids On The Block
Even though NKOTB's heyday had been more than a few years before Nevermind came out, it didn't take long for Nirvana–no matter how dirty–to become the newest poster boys for growing pains and capture the hearts of teenage girls everywhere.
Despite their hair and the occasional metal riff that populated their pop songs, Nelson were never a hair metal band. Still, it aimed to capitalize on the hair metal phenomenon as pretty boy heartthrobs who sang songs that could've been Wilson Phillips. When Nirvana effectively killed all of Nelson's marketing strategies, they got dropped by their label and disappeared from the music scene.
3. Sinead O' Connor
When Sinead O' Connor came out with Emperor's New Clothes, women glommed onto her look, her songs, her message. She was considered the spokesperson for neofeminism, and she lived up to it for as long as fans were enamored with her work. After grunge became trendy, people stopped thinking O' Connor was all that important. It didn't matter, after all, if you were a great musician doing good work–as far as the music industry was concerned, if you weren't a grunge act, you weren't worth supporting.
2. Amy Grant
Let's qualify this: Nirvana effectively killed Amy Grant's bid into mainstream pop. "The Queen of Christian Pop,” after all, is the best-selling contemporary Christian music singer ever, having sold over 30 million units worldwide. When she did "Baby Baby,” everyone thought she was going to stick around the mainstream music world. She didn't.
1. Extreme, Poison, Warrant, Winger, Tesla, Skid Row, Whitesnake, Firehouse, Cinderella, Slaughter, Queensryche
Every band from the hair metal era admits that Nirvana's success obliterated their sex, drugs and rock & roll lifestyles. (Trust me, I watch Vh-1 all the time.) I could've put together a top 10 list of successful-til-Nevermind bands solely looking at the hair metal genre, but there's definitely more than 10, and all of them are either now famous only in reality shows or doing the state fair circuit, if that.