For a while, we were excited to have the ’90s back. Nirvana, plaid, envelope-pushing teen TV, aimless 20-somethings — those things we could deal with. But no one told us that the early half of the decade would so quickly give way to the awful late ’90s, a time of teen pop and increasingly uninspired “alternative” music. Yesterday, we lamented the return of second-tier boy band O-Town. Now, it is time to wonder why Cake — yes, the “Going the Distance” people — are topping this week’s Billboard 200 album charts with their new release, Showroom of Compassion.
First of all, let’s not get too excited: album sales are in a pretty bad place right now. Last week, Taylor Swift earned the dubious honor of scoring the lowest-selling Billboard #1 of all time, with a mere 52K records sold. This week, it looks like we’ve hit yet another new low: Cake’s chart-topping album moved a full 10K units less than Swift’s. So, does this mean that rock really is dead? Or that it’s coming back? Or simply that America is once again hungry for music to fill that odd niche between commercial alternative and novelty music?