In the grand scheme of popular music, 1991 will probably go down as a watershed year for every single genre. Aside from the fact that 1990 was the real starting point, the decade of irony didn't fully get underway until 1991, as everyone collectively shook off the shackles of the '80s and started to move inward a little bit more. That meant more brooding, more introspection, and a ton of awesome music from all walks of life.
While many people are quick to branch out into the worlds of alternative music when talking about this decade, every single genre had a banner year for themselves at the time. Although hip hop had a more transitionary period with the dissolution of NWA and the start of Tupac's career, there were still some highlights to be found there as well. Even the pop sphere wasn't too shabby either, as the sugary sweet pop artists of the last few years took some time to get more introspective and even aiming bigger in their song construction.
Though the calendar years have passed, these albums still sound like the future of music all these years later, becoming the blueprint for how modern music would be later down the line. Reach for the TANG and get your flannel on....we're going back a little bit.
10. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge - Van Halen
At this stage of rock music, the hair metal movement seemed firmly out the door. Though there were some acts like Aerosmith that managed to toe the line into the next decade alright, the era of Winger and Warrant were really starting to look like a thing of the past. When you're the best in your genre though, you're not going to go out without a fight.
Hooking up with producer Ted Templeman for the first time since the mid '80s, Van Halen came through with one of their most consistent albums on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Despite the obvious sexual reference they were making with the name of the album, there's actually a lot more nuance to the band's sound this time around, as Sammy Hagar flexes his muscles as a frontman and lyricist on songs like Right Now.
Granted, it's not like Van Halen had forgotten how to have fun though (after all, the song Poundcake exists). As far as hair metal is concerned though, this is one of the most thoughtful albums to ever come from the last days of the genre, while also showcasing Eddie as a monster both behind the keys and the fretboard. Considering the sophomoric hair metal happening around them, this is what happens when that brand of rock grows up.