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The Trouble With the '90s

There was a free sampling of Sirius/XM Radio over the Labor Day weekend, and so I was able to partake of its offerings for a few days. I had the satellite radio package for a free, three-month trial after purchasing a car last year, but while it contained a nice variety of music and information channels, it wasn't enough for me to sign-up and become a paying customer. And this weekend reminded me of a glaring issue with one of its stations -- 90s on 9 (or, music from the 1990s, on the 9th channel of Sirius/XM 1). The issue, dear reader, is that the 1990s presents too-diverse of a line-up to provide a coherent listening experience.

The aforementioned issue (opinion?) isn't a new one. I can remember sitting at my friend Terry's apartment, circa 1997, when he remarked upon the diversity of Top 40 radio for the decade. I consider Terry to be somewhat of an authority when it comes to the world of music, and so what he said carried some weight. I thought about it, and he was right. Listening to 90s on 9 this weekend, I was reminded of just how right Terry was.


During the 1990s, there was a myriad of musical styles that, at one time or another during the decade, cracked the mainstream playlists of most radio stations. You had hits from genres such as: rock, pop, country, R&B, adult contemporary, rap, folk, modern rock/alternative and Euro-dance, just to name a few. This really wasn't present in any decade that came before (and it can be argued that it hasn't been as present in the decades since). While such diversification was admirable and often appreciated during the '90s, it can create a headache to listen to in present day.

Listening to the Sirius/XM 80s on 8 station is often a buttery-smooth pleasure. 90s on 9 -- not so much. Because of the aforementioned widespread popularity of genre diversity, it is possible be listening to the latter station and go from hearing Ace of Base, to Greenday, to Real McCoy, to Dave Matthews Band, to 2 Live Crew, to Loreena McKennitt, to Toni Braxton, to Radiohead, to Garth Brooks, to Snoop Dogg, to Smashing Pumpkins, and so on and so forth. The schizophrenic nature of what was popular during the 1990s does not lend itself well to a cohesive listening experience.

Perhaps I am just too narrow in my listening tastes? There are probably some who would read all of the artists I mentioned in the prior paragraph, and fist-pump the air in enthusiasm. I, on other hand, find myself switching on and off 90s on 9 very frequently. 80s on 8 is a more consistent experience, perhaps because the 80s -- while filled to the brim with awesome music -- were a tad more vanilla in their musical diversity? I almost wrote "boring" there, instead of vanilla. Almost.


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