In Defense of Post-Grunge: Commentary


Seether band image in black and white

Post-grunge band Seether – Story by Anne Erickson, photo via Fantasy Records image

For whatever reason, post-grunge often has a bad connotation. I don’t get it, but people love to make fun of post-grunge. It actually reminds me of how people made fun of hair metal after that genre started to fade. For hair metal, it was the over-the-top antics that were the brunt of many jokes. But, for post-grunge, it seems to be the music itself and how it’s derivative of, well, grunge. But, I absolutely love post-grunge music and believe it should have much more respect in the music world. Here’s my commentary in defense of post-grunge.

First of all, what is post-grunge music? As the name implies, post-grunge is music that takes its character from the grunge movement of the late-1980s and early-1990s. Post-grunge is a derivative of grunge music. The genre became popular in the late-1990s and made its way into the 2000s. Post-grunge was, and is, one of the most popular forms of rock music out there. All you have to do is look at the success of bands such as Seether, Shinedown and 3 Doors Down, who have topped the rock charts with numerous No. 1 hits, to see what post-grunge is a likeable form of music. Shinedown currently holds the record for the most mainstream rock airplay No. 1s, according to Billboard.

The All Music Guide notes that while post-grunge “imitated the sound and style of grunge,” they didn’t necessarily do that with the “individual idiosyncrasies of its original artists.” They also point out that post-grunge was a “mainstream, commercial style” that was “released on major labels” and had a “polished, radio-ready production” quality.

So, why is there so much hate for post-grunge? Let’s go back to the hair metal reference. Hair metal got super huge in the 1980s. Whenever something gets huge, what happens? There’s a backlash. I really think that’s what happened with post-grunge.

With bands like the aforementioned Shinedown – along with other huge post-grunge names like Seether, Bush, Candlebox, Creed, Nickelback and Staind – being so huge and dominating the airwaves, a backlash was bound to happen. Plus, with the purposeful commercial attention for these bands, it makes sense that people would want to rebel against being spoon-fed this music. But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t, or isn’t, good music.

I love post-grunge. It was the first rock music that I ever really fell in love with. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Staind on the radio. It was “It’s Been a While” or “Outside,” I can’t quite remember which. But, when I heard Staind, I literally froze. Something about Aaron Lewis’ raw, emotion-drenched vocals just hit at my core. It was beautiful. It was raw. And, it was real.

I asked Staind guitarist Mike Mushok in a recent interview about why he thinks post-grunge has such staying power. He makes a good point that it’s about the honestly in the music.

“I think there’s kind of an honesty to it,” he said. “I feel like from my perspective of what Staind is, I feel like a lot of what Aaron (Lewis) sings about people can relate to, because it’s things that he’s gone through and emotions that he’s felt, and I think it’s probably the same from Brent (Smith of Shinedown) and Shaun (Morgan of Seether) and that same type of group that you talk about. Besides, as with Chester, those guys are all just fanatic singers and have just such great voices. I just think there’s a lot of talent from the people that came out of that era. Not that there’s not now, there is, but I think like they’ve kind of been able to stick around a bit, which is fanatic.”

So, post-grunge is awesome. You can’t convince me otherwise. I’m a longtime radio host, and post-grunge is really the first music I ever remember playing on the radio. It will always have a special place in my heart. So, there’s my post-grunge commentary. I stand in defense of post-grunge. Don’t fight it. Soak it in.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Features, Grunge, Music, Rock