1997: Shock Shock Horror Horror

During grade school, grunge hit. In the final months of grade 8, grunge died. The first couple of years in high school were marked by the post-grunge punk revival (with some brit-pop thrown in for good measure). Then, during the mid-to-late high school years, there was… nothing.

Looking back, there doesn’t appear to be any singular style or movement with alt-rock/new rock associated with that late-mid-90s period. Yet, despite this, certain musical triggers have taken me back to the nostalgic days of 1997.

In hindsight, it was a pretty good time. School was going fine, I was expanding out of my lonerdom and socializing a bit, and the freedoms that came with a proper (G2) drivers license were opening up the world (or, at least, the Greater Toronto Area).

All the memories came back thanks to the remembrance of three particular radio hits from the spring of that year: Space’s “The Female of the Species”, Squirrel Nut Zippers’ “Hell”, and White Town’s “Your Woman”.

The hits were an aberration, so to speak. They came during an alt-rock lull. They were fueled by rock media’s search for something (anything!) new, and partly by the neo-Swing-hipster thing of the time. They got a lot of air-play for a while, rising up the new rock charts (which is weird for songs like “Female of the Species” and “Hell”). They gradually faded away. Then, a short while later, Limp Bizkit hit the scene and Korn gained popularity and the whole nu-metal rapcore whatever sounds forever knocked those three novelty songs into the annals of music history. Soon after, my interest in new rock waned.

But to this day that trilogy of tunes is what I associate with 1997. As far as I am concerned, they were the defining songs of that year. Add to that the fact that all three of the albums that they were featured on (Spiders, Hot, and Women in Technology) came out, literally, within a span of a few weeks, and you can’t help but feel as though they were forever destined for each other. It’s as thoughthe stars of novelty music aligned just for them. As another (non-alt-rock) hit of the time said: How Bizarre.

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