Senior Year, 1992: Girls vs. Grunge
by Wendy Lee Nentwig | January 18, 2012
Grunge dominated the music headlines in 1992, as journalists dissected not just the sound but also the whole Seattle scene, right down to the fashion (if you can call plaid shirts and combat boots "fashion"). But while the boys were making a lot of noise, female artists like Tori Amos, P.J. Harvey and Sophie B. Hawkins were starting a quieter revolution with albums like Little Earthquakes, Dry and Tongues and Tails, respectively.
True, Nirvana's Nevermind would claim the No. 1 spot on the Billboard album chart in early 1992, but at year's end, Madonna's "This Used to Be My Playground" would sit higher on the singles charts than "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (11 spots higher, to be exact). Meanwhile, Hawkins' breakthrough hit, "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," trailed close behind at no. 34. Melissa Etheridge and k.d. lang added a little edge with Never Enough and Ingénue, respectively, and a young Gwen Stefani began making her mark via the perky, ska-inspired pop on No Doubt's self-titled debut album.
Moving beyond the "alternative" sphere, ladies like Vanessa Williams and En Vogue both had singles that beat out Nirvana (and Michael Jackson!) in '92, while Whitney Houston topped the charts and broke records with her version of "I Will Always Love You," which anchored the zillion-selling Bodyguard soundtrack. It was also the year that the future Mrs. Johnny Depp, aka French pop star Vanessa Paradis, first climbed the U.S. charts.
All in all, 1992 may be remembered as the year of grunge, but for girls graduating high school, there were plenty of female role models to be found with a flip of the radio dial. Dig in to my Senior Year, 1992: Girls vs. Grunge playlist.