The Trends and Hits of 1993
Good music, bad music, and best-selling music
1993 witnessed the inauguration of Bill Clinton as President of the US. In New York City, Islamic Fundamentalists planted a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center; it exploded, killed 6 people and injured more than 1,000 people. A raid in Waco, Texas, by federal agents on the Branch Davidian compound went terribly wrong when the Davidians refused to allow the arrest of David Koresh, and a 51 day standoff ended in tragedy with 76 people dying in a fire, including Koresh. An earthquake near Hokkaido, Japan caused a huge tsunami which killed over 200 island inhabitants of Okushiri. The year brought some innovations in technology - the Dyson company introduced the bagless vacuum, Intel introduced the Pentium microprocessor, Microsoft released Windows 3.1, and the first version of Mosaic from the University of Illinois' National Center for Supercomputing Applications encouraged widespread use of the world wide web.
What happened in 1993's music?
It was one of those strange years in music history for rock and roll. While much good music was released and was popular, the charts seemed to indicate a return to the softer sounds of the 70s. For example, the MTV Unplugged phenomenon raged on, with hit sessions by Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, and even Nirvana. Meanwhile, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Ruth Brown, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doors, Van Morrison, and Sly & The Family Stone. A tragic addition to the forever 27 club was Mia Zapata, a musician and member of the punk band the Gits, who was living in Seattle. She was beaten, raped and strangled, and her attacker remained unknown and at large until DNA evidence was used to convict him 10 years later.
Trends: Indie, Alt.country, the New Mainstream
The indie aesthetic was turning into a source of revenue for the biz and good music for the masses. The grunge scene certainly helped to turn a fringe thing into a popular one, but other parts of the country were taking advantage of the interest in guitar-driven new rock - known for some reason as alternative. Artists like the Smashing Pumpkins, Matthew Sweet, Liz Phair, and Mazzy Star were making great music that people loved. The alternative country scene was doing fine as well with classic albums by Uncle Tupelo and Robert Earl Keen leading the pack. The mellow side of mainstream was being explored by the Cranberries, Counting Crows, and Sheryl Crow. And Bob Dylan released a second album of covers of old songs, proclaiming that the world didn't need any more new songs. He was probably right.
Good Albums, Best-selling Albums - 2 Different Worlds
While the list of good recordings that sold decently is long for the year, the best-selling list is short and depressing. The good ones included Laid by James, So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Star, August and Everything After by Counting Crows, Altered beast by Matthew Sweet, Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, and many others. But look at the top 5 sellers on Billboard's chart: The Bodyguard Soundtrack, Breathless by Kenny G, Unplugged by Eric Clapton, Janet by Janet Jackson, and Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus. U2 finally made a real zinger with Zooropa. And the top selling singles were just as bad.
The Top Hits of 1993 - A Dismal List?
Worldwide, the biggest selling songs were I'd Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf, Can't Help Falling In Love by UB40, What's Up by 4 Non-Blondes, Informer by Snow, and Haddaway's What Is Love? George Michaels had no less than 4 number one songs during the year, and the list of number ones shows a clear trend toward dance, diva, soft and mellow. Nobody wanted to rock, apparently. But of course, rock and roll never dies, and the burgeoning alternative scene was a sign of better things to come.