[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.]
Not content to simply defecate on rock music with his own group, Fred Durst is also responsible for the success of Staind, first giving them a national spotlight on the 1999 Family Values Tour, and then sharing lead vocals on the group’s first hit, “Outside.” Angry bald men everywhere respond by buying 30 million records from both bands combined over the next decade.
Fun Fact: Lead singer Aaron Lewis has been known to cover Pearl Jam’s “Black” in concert, proving he does have a sense of humor after all.
Learning from the success of Creed and Staind, Fuel picked yet another non-descript one-syllable word as their band moniker and rode the strangled vocal cords of lead singer Brett Scallions (yes, that’s his real name) to two-hit-wonder glory. (Am I a bad person for
still kinda liking “Shimmer”? Probably.)
Fun Fact: American Idol fourth-placer Chris Daughtry rejected an invitation to become the group’s new lead singer in 2006, choosing instead the far more lucrative route of forming his own Fuel cover band, better known as DAUGHTRY.
For most acts, stealing your name from a deep-cut Alice In Chains song—after swiping A.I.C.’s entire drop-D, minor-key sound first—would be the ultimate in hubris. Not so for Godsmack, who took plagiarism one step further by stealing the entire Stone Temple Pilots “Plush” video for their own “Keep Away.”
Fun Fact: I was going to leave Godsmack off this list, since their sound is more derivative of Pantera these days… until I spied that video and got annoyed all over again.