The Hits of 1992: Thank God For Grunge

A mixed year for lovers of rock and roll

In 1992 the first real advance for smokers wanting to quit was marketed - the nicotine patch. Wit the invention of DNA fingerprinting criminal forensics took a huge step forward. The Balkan War began and would continue devastating the region and its people for years, despite the inintervention of the UN. In the United Kingdom there were extensive riots, while in Los Angeles the acquittal of the Roodney King police brutality defendants caused the massive LA riots. Bill Clinton was elected the next US president, and the Mall of America in Minnesota was built, giving the world's shoppers a place to go.

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What happened in 1992's music?
Several events in the musical world made a mark in history this year. Nirvana hit number 1 on the album charts to kick the year off, signaling the arrival of grunge as serious business. Bill Wyman quit the Rolling Stones for good, signaling the virtual, if not the actual, end of the world's greatest rock and roll band. Anyone who could provide proof of purchase of a Milli Vanilli album could get $3 refunded because of the lip-syncing incident. Sinead O'Connor appeared on Saturday Night Live and tore up a picture of the Pope., and famous people got married: Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love (setting the stage for his membership in the forever 27 club), David Bowie and Iman, and Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.


Alt Country - whatever that is - Flourishes
Some of the best albums in the maturing genre were released in 1992, and showed the expansion and hybridization that was happening. Soul Asylum were on the fence between alt country and alt rock with Grave Dancer's Union, and the Jayhawks followed a similar path with their classic Hollywood Town Hall. Lucinda Williams showed why she was a critic's darling and a major musical force period with Sweet Old World, more country than rock, but really in a world of its own. Neil Young was ready for the country again, and made a journey to the past with Harvest Moon. And good old Bob Dylan showed the way to a lost world of pre-war blues and ancient folk with his album of other people's songs called Good As I Been To You.


Grunge Grows Up
The hottest news was the absolute triumph of Nirvana and their Nevermind album. It the top of the album charts and spawned a worldwide hit single in Smells Like Teen Spirit. The video for the song was one of MTV's all-time most-requested, and won many awards. Other groups reaped the benefits of being in the movement. Pearl Jam's debut Ten finally hit the top, and Soul Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains made inroads as well. The important thing was that grunge was now a media buzz term, and the Seattle scene became public knowledge, losing its indy edge but gaining monetary success and respectability for the artists.


Ho Hum Hits
Unfortunately for the world of rock and roll lovers, the rest of the music business was in a deep ditch of dismal doldrums. Hit singles besides Nirvana's included songs by Boyz II Men, Snap!, Mr. Big, Sir Mix-a-lot, Kriss Kross, Right Said Fred, Vanessa Williams, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. Big albums were almost as dreary - Garth Brooks's Ropin' the Wind, Some Gave All by Billy Ray Ctrus, Dangerous by Michael Jackson, Kenny G and Michael Bolton, and so on. A really poor year except for high spots by REM, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Dylan, and a few others. Thank god for grunge!


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