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5 Songs That Define the Sounds of the 1990s

Tuesday, November 11: 3:59 p.m.

Prodigy Firestarter music video singer 90s music

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees Tom Dowd, Berry Gordy Jr., Les Paul, Sam Phillips and Phil Spector represent a 1950s and 1960s "recordist canon," pioneers of maverick recording methodologies responsible for shaping the sound of classic rock and roll. Their work not only forms the underpinning of rock music’s sonic characteristics, but also represents an oft-imitated body of audible stylistic, genre and aesthetic recording principles. Some of their radical, experimental and at times rebellious production techniques – Paul’s "Sound on Sound," Spector’s "Wall of Sound"and Phillips’ "Slap Echo" for example, have informed a continuum of established rock production standards.

However, the 1990s also marked a significant turning point in pop and rock sound recording. At a time when computer-based digital audio workstations (an electronic tool for recording, editing and producing audio files) were fast becoming the norm, many sound recordists of the era either rejected this new direction outright or blended technological and processual precursors into unconventional and individualized working practice. Such reinventions of technological and processual modes of production mirror those of the 1950s and 1960s ‘"recordist canon."

Here are 5 songs that helped define the sounds of the 1990s, and the producers who ...


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10 Essential Nirvana Songs

Monday, February 20: 5:30 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Kurt Cobain (album art from Nirvana's 1989 album Bleach)

Kurt Cobain was born on February 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington. The songwriter/guitarist emerged from the nascent grunge movement of the early 80s – an alternative sub genre that incorporated elements of indie, punk, hardcore and heavy metal – to become the reluctant "voice of a generation." As the frontman for Nirvana, Cobain's esoteric lyrics and ability to craft indelible hooks with a uniquely metallic resonance fueled the band. Backed by the core of Krist Novoselic's steady bass and the thundering percussion of Dave Grohl, Cobain's songs almost single-handedly changed not only the musical landscape of the 1990s, but also the cultural landscape. Released in 1991, Nirvana's second album, Nevermind, was a landmark recording, bringing once-alternative sounds to the mainstream and tuning the world in to a Seattle scene that had gone largely unheard to that point. Nirvana led a charge that unseated the hedonistic values, flamboyant acts and slick production of hair metal at the top of the rock throne and replaced it with less scripted, more dynamic arrangements, introspective lyrics and more universally identifiable, laid-back style – including a flannel-clad fashion prerogative that was soon adopted from coast to coast, seen everywhere from dive bars ...


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