music for good girl gone bad?
February 18, 2012 6:59 PM   Subscribe

What album or band would a good girl who wants to be "bad" listen to in 1991?

"Bad" girl meaning, gets into fights, smokes, does cool wild stuff
posted by space cat to Society & Culture (47 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Babes in Toyland
posted by googly at 7:05 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

The go-to would be metal- Guns n' Roses, Motley Crue were still around...

But the fact is metal was pretty much done scaring people by then. NWA or other gangsta rap is more what was actually "edgy" and upsetting parents right then.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:06 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Or I guess you could go really hardcore punk like GG Allin or something... or Slayer for the "Satan" angle...
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:07 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jane's Addiction or Nine Inch Nails might work.
posted by ezrainch at 7:14 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Metallica, but she'd be upset that they'd just wussed out with The Black Album.
posted by dydecker at 7:15 PM on February 18, 2012

Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Meat Beat Manifesto. The Misfits. The Cure, Sisters of Mercy. Pearl Jam's 10 came out that summer, and they were edgy then.
posted by bibliogrrl at 7:17 PM on February 18, 2012

Pretty on the Inside
posted by scody at 7:43 PM on February 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Well. It could be speed/death metal (Slayer, Sepultura, Cannibal Corpse, etc), rap (most rap except for pop-charts stuff and Native Tongues probably, but even that's feasible), industrial noise (Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Skinny Puppy), hardcore punk, possibly some of the more Lollapalooza-ish alternative bands like Jane's and RHCP. Depends on what scene you want her in and how innocent she is to start with. Not as plausible for the fighting part would be the techno/rave scene or college indie. Riot grrl very possible but she'd have to have been very hip/ in the right area in 1991.
posted by furiousthought at 7:47 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

L7 sum up all of those aspects perfectly. They didn't really come to prominence until 92's Bricks are Heavy album, but were around long before that.

Other than that I'll Nth Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Skinny Puppy etcetera.
posted by DuchessProzac at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you give us some more information about her? Where would she live? Is she middle class, working class, etc? What's her race?

I remember '91 being kind of a dividing line. Before that summer, people still spat on me on the street because I wore Docs and dyed my hair black. Then that summer Nevermind came out, and suddenly all the preppy kids were buying ten-hole ox-bloods and asking me for music recommendations. So basically: Spring of '91, she could be into hardcore. (Stuff I listened to in high school: Misfits, the Vandals, Social Distortion, although I think they may have gone country by '91. Rites of Spring and Marginal Man, although those were old by the time I found out about them. Fugazi, but you want to be a little careful about that, because the true bad kids hated Ian MacKaye and thought Fugazi was lame.) Fall of '91, she'd probably have to find something else.

That was the summer that I first started hearing about riot grrl.
NWA or other gangsta rap is more what was actually "edgy" and upsetting parents right then.
Yeah, that sounds right to me.

Oh, did that L7 album come out in 1991? I remember me and my friends being really into that.
posted by craichead at 7:51 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Ministry, Fishbone?
posted by Occula at 7:53 PM on February 18, 2012

DuchessProzac read my mind. L7 all the way -- and if your "bad girl" had connections, she would've had the demo versions of P.J. Harvey's Dry on heavy rotation (they were recorded in 1991).
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Another suggestion: back in the day, a friend of the band gave me a cassette tape (!) --- remember those? --- of Attributed to Cerebral Corps before it was officially released... pretty sure it was 1991. Anyway, I was a a "good girl" in every sense of the word, but have always had very eclectic taste in music; that was the only thing I listened to that made my parents question my sanity (especially "I'm Haemorrhaging (In F#).
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:20 PM on February 18, 2012

I'd go grunge. Nirvana's Nevermind came out in 1991.
posted by cecic at 8:21 PM on February 18, 2012

Thanks for the awesome suggestions. I think I'm going to go with Pearl Jam. This girl is middle class, and quite mild. She would definitely think Pearl Jam was very rebellious
posted by space cat at 8:23 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bikini Kill!
posted by axiom at 8:23 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I like scody's thinking, and I'll take John Peel Festive 50 for 1990 and 1991 as a nice guide to a certain kind of musical sensibility (Hole, Babes in Toyland, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr) that fits nicely with the Sub Pop Singles Club.

But: while most people wish they'd been been part of what's retrospectively judged a period's defining music scene, most people aren't. A teenager in a part of the US that has shitty radio and no live scene, who gets her music mostly through MTV and perhaps from tapes, is as likely to project "badness" musically through goth, rap, metal received on a kind of delay.

On preview: Pearl Jam's an interesting case, and possibly anachronistic for 1991. Ten was released in the middle of that year, but didn't chart in the US until spring-ish 1992, and the band didn't start filling venues in the US until returning from their European tour around the same time. I remember hearing 'Alive' in 1991 in the UK -- but it wasn't actually released at that time in the US.
posted by holgate at 8:38 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

ani difranco
posted by nadawi at 8:39 PM on February 18, 2012

I was a teenage girl in the US in 1991 and she likely would have been into metal/ indie unless she was a goth, punk or lived in an area with a local scene. (In CA) we listened to Violent Femmes, Primus, Pixies, Siouxie and the Banshees, NIN, Rage, Social D, Gwar, Ministry, Jesus and Mary Chain, REM, U2, Public Enemy, NWA, Salt n Pepa, Operation Ivy, RHCP, Sublime, Janes Addiction etc But lots of kids were into metal and hardcore then too. Pearl Jam was more 92-93 and I would say more college rock.

There were still tons of raves then too. And plenty of people listening to metal. GnR's Use Your Illusion was pretty huge.
posted by fshgrl at 9:05 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I Touch Myself, from the eponymous album by the Divinyls.

Been Caught Stealing, from Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane's Addiction.
posted by hot soup girl at 9:09 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Throwing Muses
posted by brujita at 9:12 PM on February 18, 2012

This was the cusp of Lilith Fair.
posted by brujita at 9:13 PM on February 18, 2012

Yeah, I was gonna say, Salt n Pepa or Naughty by Nature... My husband says Fugazi, maybe? Circle Jerks or Motörhead?
posted by limeonaire at 9:24 PM on February 18, 2012

hell yes bikini kill
posted by elizardbits at 9:28 PM on February 18, 2012

My husband says Fugazi, maybe?

Fugazi's a possibility, too, though (due to the straight edge vibe) they strike me more as signifying Serious Alternative Music cred more so than Bad Girl for that period (though I don't think the two are necessarily mutually exclusive).
posted by scody at 9:41 PM on February 18, 2012

Pearl Jam's 10 came out that summer, and they were edgy then.

Meh. I had it (first CD I owned!) in '92, and I was a decidedly non-edgy sixth grader. In fact, I believe my parents bought it for me.

Guns N Roses - my neighbor across the street, two years younger than me, had whatever album November Rain appeared on. Probably purchased by an older sibling, but still. If Methodist girls under the age of 10 have your tape, you're not edgy.

Ditto Salt n Pepa - they were a staple of middle school dances.

Lilith Fair - mostly not edgy, if memory serves. Seriously, Sarah McLachlan? Edgy?

The Divinyls came on VH1.

The cool/bad kids in my high school - mid 90's - were into NIN and Jane's Addiction, so maybe them. Also, anything Riot Grrrl seemed totally rad to me back then.

Hole, maybe? I remember getting one of their pre Doll Parts records much later on which had a track called "When I Was A Teenage Whore". Pretty edgy.

Tori Amos is a little touchy feely to be bad girl rebel material, but she was at least too cool for commercial radio.

I, too, remember Op Ivy being the shit.
posted by Sara C. at 10:27 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is she a suburban good girl who has one "bad" album that she listens to mainly for show?
So it needs to be accessible to her (she found it somehow), and clearly signify badness, and not be so weird/shreiky that she would turn it off immediately?

Do you want empowered-girl?
Then Ani or Bikini Kill, that kind of scene.

Or do you want music where she might favor herself having a crush on a bad-boy lead singer?
Then Jane's Addiction or NIN.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:27 PM on February 18, 2012

Definitely Nine Inch Nails. Pretty Hate Machine came out late in 1989, which is about perfect timing for a good girl who wants to seem bad in 1991. She'd be just figuring out what the badder-than-her kids were starting to get over.
posted by vytae at 10:33 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, maybe Pearl Jam's a little tame if Sara C. got it from her parents. Violent Femmes, Jane's Addiction, NIN all good suggestions.

"She'd be just figuring out what the badder-than-her kids were starting to get over"

posted by space cat at 10:39 PM on February 18, 2012

The Frogs - It's Only Right and Natural
(Seattle grunge bands were name-checking them and wearing their merch in the early 90's, and the record is over-the-top offensive and hilarious)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:47 PM on February 18, 2012

I was 21 in 1991.

Sonic Youth's Goo (1990) was huge at the time, so that's my pick if your character is into alternative.

But all the girls I knew, good or bad, who were into alternative, industrial, riot grrl, or Ani DeFranco would have not been impressed by people who got into fights. Feminism and the idea that you were the steward of your own culture ran counter to violence. Even the druggies would have reacted to aggressive posturing with sarcasm. Violence was one of the things that you left the mainstream to avoid (see: Gulf War). I saw fights (with both women and men as instigators) in clubs that played pop, Hi-NRG and house. You'd see fights among kids that were into scenes that went beyond alternative into more specialized cliques, like hardcore punkers and skinheads (yes, even the SHARPS), although these scenes were dominated by young men. I remember a woman who wanted to start something with me because I was ambivalent about the punk/ska band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:50 PM on February 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's such a cultural thing.

High school kids in the 90s, as always, were fairly tribal -- was she a skater? A goth? A headbanger? Grunge? Punk? Once you decide that, then you can pick.

Definitely not Pearl Jam, though, whatever you go with.
posted by empath at 11:45 PM on February 18, 2012

I agree with everyone else, that Nine Inch Nails was a pretty fail safe pick, though they were fairly obscure, still, in 1991. Head Like a Hole got some airplay on 120 minutes and alternative radio, but they weren't really the 'band you scared you parents' with until Downward Spiral came out.
posted by empath at 11:48 PM on February 18, 2012

And, yeah, fighting wouldn't have been part of the goth scene -- that was headbangers and people into hip-hop, pretty much exclusively, and often with each other, in the early 90s, at least where I went to high school. So then you're looking at Guns and Roses and Public Enemy, etc..
posted by empath at 11:50 PM on February 18, 2012

It depends on who she's getting into fights with. A lot of scenes that frowned upon fighting amongst themselves would be less concerned about a girl who had to defend herself from the normals or whatever other oppressive outsiders. That said goths, ravers, and college-indie would not have been scenes that would appeal as much to someone with that much adolescent aggro. Industrial's ok because while they didn't much fight they sure did mosh.
posted by furiousthought at 12:23 AM on February 19, 2012

Riot Grrrl, for sure. Huggy Bear. Bikini Kill.

Oh, and Silverfish.
posted by Decani at 3:31 AM on February 19, 2012

I was a 14 year old Bad Girl in 1991. I listened to Anthrax, Cannibal Corpse, Pantera, Sepultura, Black Flag, NIN, Ministry, Bikini Kill, Living Colour - Guns n Roses, Metallica and Motley Crue were soooo 1989. This was also when I started getting into west coast hip hop - NWA, Bodycount. New Jack City came out in 1991 and the soundtrack got absolutely played to death.
posted by goo at 3:38 AM on February 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

This may strike some as odd but from my own perspective (male, 12 years old at the time), the most "bad", subversive, omg-turn-it-off music I had at the time was Gwar's album Scumdogs of the Universe. I'm pretty sure it took me a year or more to realize it was all a parody of the over-the-top evil metal band schtick, and until I did, that album was the most badass thing in my world.
posted by distressingly thick sheets at 6:40 AM on February 19, 2012

Goo has it right.
posted by empath at 6:44 AM on February 19, 2012

I agree with goo, mostly, and I'm going to elaborate on her list somewhat. I turned 16 in 1991. The "gets into fights, smokes, does cool wild stuff" describes the headbangers/metalheads (goo's list from Anthrax through Sepultura) that in my high school were generally looked down upon as being trashy for their tendency to fight, smoke, and the perception that they were "slutty." They wore jean jackets with band patches and generally "trashy" clothing (tight, low-cut, or very short skirts). They were also wearing late 70s-early 80s feathered hair as a tribal marker at that point - long after it was cool. It would not have been a group that my friends (mostly the honors and theatre crowds) would have aspired to join.

The Black Flag through Bikini Kill people were a different group entirely from the metalheads. (I would add The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Skinny Puppy, Fugazi, and Gwar to that list, as well as hardcore in general, since I grew up outside of D.C.) In my high school those people would have been called mods, in my husband's 40 miles away they were "people in black." They were the Docs/black trenchcoats/black everything/dramatic black makeup people who today would likely be called goths. They weren't big smokers and they definitely didn't get into fights - they were a smart, generally well-behaved bunch, despite their outward appearance.

The mods picked up on NIN before anyone else, but NIN was eventually *huge* among many, many groups, especially the mods/visual artists/photographers/theatre scene. Pretty Hate Machine was slightly edgy and rebellious because of the lyrics but still very poppy and danceable - sort of a harder-edged Depeche Mode (which was also big among the mods). And it was still going strong in 1991. So I think NIN would be a good pick for a sheltered suburban girl to choose as her one bit of rebellion. It would have qualified as that in my life, personally - because when I wasn't listening to NIN, I was listening to indigo girls, U2, R.E.M., The La's, Matthew Sweet, Deee-Lite, Voice of the Beehive, INXS, EMF, Jesus Jones, etc.
posted by jocelmeow at 8:21 AM on February 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thanks to everyone for the run-down on 90's tribes. I see now that 1991 was a time where to be "badass" was more about seeming disaffected and aloof and "cool", rather than punk and exhibitionistically violent. It's a more subtle type of "bad," like lack of school spirit, as opposed to holding up convenience stores, etc. That said... NIN?
posted by space cat at 12:48 PM on February 19, 2012

Just two tweaks to add here, first one pedantic:

1. It's stretch, and I think actually wrong, to say that Nevermind came out in summer 1991 -- it was released on September 24, 1991. Teen Spirit came out two weeks prior. I was a huuuuuge Nirvana fan starting with Bleach and was watching all this closely -- I remember me and a friend racing the newly arrived Teen Spirit 12-inch single to the turntable and thinking the glossy production was ... weird. The single, and album, didn't really get traction in the mainstream until December 1991 and January 1992. THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. Grunge grunge grunge blah blah blah.

2. Pearl Jam arrived at around the same time. To those of us in the, uh, self-righteous music underground, they were a fully formed, completely fabricated product of the corporate music machine. I remember the record label hired out a rock club here in Atlanta for a record listening party for "10". Ha! So, no, they would not be the soundtrack to anybody's rebellious phase.

Ah, Silverfish, forgot about them.

Bad girls looooved NIN and Reznor back in the day. Annoyed the shit out of the rest of us.
posted by intermod at 3:11 PM on February 19, 2012

brujita: This was the cusp of Lilith Fair.

6 years before the first one, and the music scene was very different, so I'd disagree.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Revolting Cocks, Ministry, Skinny Puppy. Assuming you'd like her to go somewhat more substantially bad than many of the others above.

And if you could somehow incarnate her, whip up a time machine and have her talk to the awkward guy in the darkest part of a library in Maryland in about 1989, that'd be great, too, thanks.
posted by el_lupino at 4:41 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My best friend from high school, who had edgier taste than I, chimed in on facebook with a few more. Jesus Lizard (wiki), Dinosaur Jr. (wiki), 7 Seconds (wiki), and Primus (wiki - Primus she definitely could have seen on MTV). One more thing that might be helpful to you is the 120 Minutes archive, which has the playlists for each episode of the show. Good Girl would have to stay up late on a Sunday night to watch it, or set her VCR for midnight (el_lupino and I think we're remembering that start time right, but aren't positive).
posted by jocelmeow at 5:24 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

The single, and album, didn't really get traction in the mainstream until December 1991 and January 1992.

At which point it was snapped up by sixth graders like yours truly. Most of my friends who had crushes on Kurt Cobain in '92 grew up to be high school cheerleaders and sorority girls.

That said, Nirvana had slightly more indie/nerd/outsider/cool cred than Pearl Jam did, down the road. I remember being at a nerd summer program in '94 and a lot of the "cool" city kids still held Cobain as an icon. That said, at this point we are still definitely not talking about bad-ass rebel teenagers, but nerdy overachievers with a veneer of subversive navel-gazing. People who also dug Sonic Youth and Sleater Kinney and wore Sub Pop t-shirts, and would grow up to be web developers.
posted by Sara C. at 6:38 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would definitely agree with NIN. I sound exactly like your character. I was a middle class mostly good girl in a Catholic high school in 1991 (I turned 17 that November). About that time, I started hanging around with smokers, cruising the strip, and telling my parents to fuck off. My friends pretty much all listened to NIN, and I followed suit.
posted by desjardins at 7:45 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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