Beck's Back

Posted by Drake, January 20, 2014
Beck returns this February with "Morning Phase."

Beck returns this February with "Morning Phase."

Hey, ready to feel old on a Monday afternoon? No? Too bad, check this out: the 1990s were twenty years ago.

And there's one especially notable year from that plaid-draped, moody, coffeehouse-obsessed decade we want to talk about this week—1994. That was when Weezer made us nostalgic for a '50s none of us remember with "Buddy Holly," when The Smashing Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream" was the soundtrack for every Snapple-fuelled road trip, and when Oasis—with that year's "Definitely Maybe"—still enjoyed the benefits of kicking rock and roll ass without an ego the size of earth's moon, at least for the most part.

In the movies, we learned all about the royale with cheese in "Pulp Fiction," the various uses of shrimp in "Forrest Gump," and exactly what not to do aboard a bus wired to explode in "Speed" (a hint: it's slow down. Don't do that). "Shawshank Redemption," meanwhile, exhorted us to get busy livin', or get busy dyin'. Which is a bit darkly ironic, come to think of it, considering the very, very big names we lost that year.

We were a good four years into the 1990s at that point, with the '80s, the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, spandex, Max Headroom, and the general electric-purple-freakout of the preceding ten years fading into distant memory.

But what's a little funny is remembering the summer of that particular year, when Beck had already been a household name for a solid twelve months with "Loser," his 1993 hit. Across the entertainment-journalism spectrum, Beck had been called everythinig from "King of the Slackers" to an icon in the same respect as Kurt Cobain. By 1994, though, that fame began to arc back and bite him directly in the rear end, having committed the cardinal grunge-era sin of too much mainstream success, too soon. That summer, critics were already talking about Beck as a washed-up, one-hit wonder. The thought of him still kicking around twenty years later was more difficult to imagine than a world without Seinfeld.

And yet, here we are in 2014. Not only did Beck defy the official doubts that plagued his career in the mid-90s, putting out critically-acclaimed, commercially-successful records like 2008's "Modern Guilt," but this year marks the end of the six-year wait since that record, too. On February 25, "Morning Phase" drops, with its lead single "Blue Moon"—which you may or may not have already heard on the soundtrack to the TV show "Girls."

Something to consider the next time you hear a musician dismissed as a "one-hit wonder."

Posted in: Music

Tags: Beck  Capitol Records  grunge  music