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(Credit: Aranxa Esteve)


The ultimate guide to 1990s indie music: A mammoth 800-song chronological playlist of the greats

If you were born between the late 1970s and early 1980s and your music listening culture rooted in the genres of alternative of indie music, then what follows might sound familiar and unexpectedly enjoyable. 

American-based music fan Aroon Korvna meticulously compiled a mammoth playlist covering the whole ’90s decade. The collection covers around 55 hours of music and includes no fewer than 800 tracks in total. If this does not seem enough, the real cherry on the pie is that tracks have been categorised in chronological order.

The author confesses that a song like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was every bit the cliché life-changing experience that kept him hooked for days. Such event was nonetheless overwhelmingly intense and, even as a child, identified himself with such stuff for good reason. To deepen his music knowledge, Korvna relied a lot on his older brother who, every month, brought home lots of weird sonic explorations for him to listen to.

The playlist does not come one complete form and is instead divided into three parts: 1990–1994, 1995–1996, and 1997–1999. This division is due not for organisational reasons but because he first organised the collection with a now-discontinued radio streaming service which started to behave strangely and skipped songs once you approached the 300-track mark.

In any case, now the playlists are imported in Spotify.

The author also recalls that the inspiration for his playlist came after reading a myriad of articles about amazing forgotten songs of the ’90s he already knew. At the same time, he realised this was not necessarily true and thought of checking out the past album weekly releases, for the entire decade, and pluck out interesting and noteworthy songs. 

Even from a narrow rock perspective, it wasn’t just grunge followed by a post-grunge hangover. There was a massive variety of stuff happening on a week-to-week basis and so much of it is essential. While building up the collection, Korvna came to acknowledge that the ’90s can be viably considered a true blueprint for music, without unavoidably falling in the trap nostalgia-tainted tunes. Absolutely brilliant stuff was consistently being released every week. 

As large as the playlist is, the focus is mostly on rock: alt (meaning alternative radio), indie, and college stuff as it reflects the subjective experience of the ’90s. On the other hand, pop, R&B and hip hop increased toward the latter half of the decade, which is coincidentally where some amazing jams sit.

If the ’90s is to you an unexplored location, you’ll discover that this three-part playlist offers a fully-fledged itinerary through one of the most prolific musical decades and a certain angle.

If you recognise yourself in this musical target, it will cheer your spirit, gives a smile and maybe start an internal discussion about songs that are not there and should have been there.

Stream the playlists, below.

via Metafilter/Medium/Open Culture