I Hate the 90s 

A Reflection on a Bad Decade for Guitar Gods

What do you remember now when you think back on the '90s? Because as I sit down to write this, I can't remember shit.

Okay, that's not completely true. I do vividly recall these two curious white kids at my junior high who always wore African medallions—which I assume they did because they really liked P.M. Dawn—but when it comes to the sort of memories that would lend themselves to a multi-paged feature about guitar gods, I'm drawing a blank. And you want to know why? Because the '90s was hands down the worst decade possible to emerge as a guitar god.

Oh sure, if you were Billy Corgan or J. Mascis, things kind of rocked. But fact is, when it came to the sort of fret-blazing solos that make mere mortals into Guitar World foldouts, the '90s blew. Who did we have, Kurt Cobain? Ehh. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" contained perhaps the weakest guitar solo to incite a cultural about-face ever. Stephen Malkmus? Tragically, he waited until his post-Pavement career to show his jam-band chops and prove that he really should have joined Phish instead.

So who else was there? Mac McCaughan? A bunch of emo bands? It really was a bust. The empirical proof of this is that Van Halen sold seven million albums throughout the '90s, and no one can remember any of the singles from this period other than "Right Now," a song that Eddie Van Halen played piano on. Even if you wanted to hear the squealing wank-off from "Cherub Rock" on the radio, you'd have to sit through Jill Sobule and Sponge to do so. So while the '90s may have been a fairly decent time for music, it was a crummy time for excess, all of which is to say thank god it's over! Don't look back!

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