I cannot listen to the most music from 90s. I don’t have nostalgia for those bands and songs. A year ago I accidentally heard one song from Incubus and realized why it doesn’t touch me.
I don’t remember lyrics exactly but it was something about the person riding in a car towards the sunset. The whole song was about that. Kind of like very abstract description of what is happening in the outer word.
It’s quite easy to write lyrics like that. You play with the words and the form. I can call this “writing about nothing”(inspired by Seinfeld). Or rather writing about nothing personal or even nothing substantial.
And now compare lyrics of most rock and indie bands of 90s to the lyrics of Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo(or many other modern artists). Their lyrics are so personal and intimate. They write about what they’ve lived through and what they’ve felt. Their songs have emotions and reflections. It’s completely different level of craft.
First of all it’s very difficult to do technically. You don’t just play with words, you try to recall your feelings and turn them into the words. On top of that writing personal things is way more scary and requires courage. You cannot hide behind the words. And don’t forget about reflections and self-awareness. Billie and Olivia are extremely self-aware and reflective. They don’t just write about driving the car towards the sunset. Billie drives in the car and she reflects on her struggles, her dreams and connection with people. When Olivia drives in the car she reflects on finished relationship and her insecurities.
I don’t want to dunk too much on the music from 90s. But I want to say that modern art is better. It’s more honest because it’s more intimate and personal. And it has meaning. Personal stories have reflections and lessons in them. So when we listen to modern songs we can relive some moments from our lives, reflect on them, learn something about ourselves and eventually let go of some feelings that hold us back.
I love that we make progress. It should be that way. Younger generation should be better than older ones in many respects. And they are.