[In the hugely entertaining documentary series Metal Evolution, there’s a special branch reserved on the metal family tree for “Post-Grunge,” that nebulous brand of hard rock that emerged almost immediately after Nevermind hit #1—and hasn’t disappeared from the charts since. “Post-grunge” (also known as “grunge lite,” “fake grunge,” or simply “crap”) borrows liberally from the sound of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and/or Alice In Chains to create a sound that feels like the real thing, despite not having a shred of originality anywhere in its DNA. Unsurprisingly, radio programmers ate this recycled mess up for decades.
Can I defend any of these acts? Not really—at least not in their original “post-grunge” guises. But do some still possess a certain nostalgic charm? Of course, especially when you compare the goofy earnestness of a one-hit wonder like Sponge with the grim, by-the-numbers plodding of today’s rock radio landscape. Hell, I even get nostalgic for Bush every once in a while. How screwed up is that?
So below, please enjoy a roughly chronological rundown of the era’s “greatest” post-grunge acts. Bad as they were back then, even the biggest offenders now seem less repulsive in hindsight.
Except for Nickelback. Those guys are still f—n’ terrible.]
Much like our political process in 2000, the state of Florida almost single-handedly destroyed popular music in the late 90’s, beginning with Orlando-based 7M3 (who only moved there after the local FM station put “Cumbersome” in heavy rotation). Flush with early success,
Fun Fact: Seven Mary Three’s follow-up record, RockCrown, is arguably the best of all post-grunge albums. (And I know that’s akin to being the tallest midget, but still. A lot of this album is pretty great.) Naturally, it didn’t sell. (Sensing a trend yet?)
8. Matchbox 20
For those who would like to pretend otherwise, here’s a brief reminder that, beneath all those tailored suits and model wives and Grammy Awards, there lurks just another pseudo-grunge outfit with trite lyrics and yawling vocals. Also, much better publicists.
As the new millennium dawned, the “Worst Band Of All Time” race quickly boiled down to two equally repugnant contenders: Limp Bizkit (33 million sold worldwide) and Creed (seven consecutive chart-topping singles on rock radio). History, in its attempt to reach a conclusive decision, simply recoiled and threw up on itself, ironically giving birth to Nickelback in the process.
Fun Fact #2: 25 million Americans bought a Creed album between 1997 and 2003. Not one of them will admit to it today.