|Cultural origins||Early to mid-1990s, United States|
Post-grunge is a subgenre of grunge that began in the 1990s. Although it's a subgenre of alternative rock and hard rock, post-grunge was also originally a label that was used almost pejoratively on grunge bands that emulated the grunge sound and that emerged when grunge bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam were popular. Bands that were labelled almost pejoratively as post-grunge include Bush, Candlebox and Collective Soul. Post-grunge morphed in the late 1990s, with many bands different from the earliest post-grunge bands emerging. During the late 1990s, post-grunge morphed into a derivative of grunge that uses the sounds and aesthetics of grunge, but with a more commercially accessible tone. Post-grunge became popular in the 1990s and continued being popular in the 2000s. Post-grunge bands such as Foo Fighters, Puddle of Mudd, Staind, Nickelback, Creed and Matchbox Twenty all achieved mainstream success.
Post-grunge originally was a label that was meant to be almost pejorative, suggesting that grunge bands labelled as post-grunge were simply musically derivative, or a cynical response to an "authentic" rock movement. When grunge became a mainstream genre because of bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, record labels started signing bands that sounded similar to these bands' sonic identities. Bands labeled as post-grunge that emerged when grunge was mainstream such as Bush, Candlebox and Collective Soul all are noted for emulating the sound of the bands that launched grunge into the mainstream. According to Tim Grierson of About.com, the almost pejorative use of the "post-grunge" label to describe these bands was "suggesting that rather than being a musical movement in their own right, they were just a calculated, cynical response to a legitimate stylistic shift in rock music." During the late 1990s, post-grunge morphed, becoming a derivative of grunge that combined characteristics of grunge with a more commercially accessible tone. During this time, post-grunge bands such as Creed and Nickelback emerged. Grierson wrote:
"Creed and Nickelback espoused a more conventional, almost conservative worldview built around the comforts of community and romantic relationships. Ironically, this attitude was diametrically opposed to the antisocial angst of the original grunge bands, who railed against conformity and instead explored troubling issues such as suicide, societal hypocrisy and drug addiction."
Grierson also wrote, "Post-grunge was a profitable musical style, but bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were beloved partly because of their perceived integrity in avoiding the mainstream. Post-grunge, by comparison, seemed to exist in order to court that very audience."
During the 1990s, a "post-grunge" sound emerged which emulated the attitudes and music of grunge, particularly its thick, distorted guitars, but with a more commercially accessible tone. Unlike a lot of early grunge bands, post-grunge bands often worked through major record labels and incorporated influences from a variety of musical genres including jangle pop, pop punk, ska revival, alternative metal and classic rock. Post-grunge music tends to be in mid-tempo and is noted for having "a polished, radio-ready production". Grierson of About.com wrote that musically, post-grunge bands "split the difference between plaintive ballads and aggressive rockers, resulting in songs that combine the two extremes into a sad-eyed, propulsive middle ground".
Post-grunge tends to feature melodies and song structures that are common in pop music. Sometimes post-grunge music features both an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar playing simultaneously. A "major rift" between grunge and post-grunge is in the lyrical substance of the music; grunge expressed emotion through loose metaphors or third-person narratives, while post-grunge was known for being direct and blunt. While describing lyrics that are common in post-grunge, Sasha Geffen of Consequence of Sound wrote that post-grunge "plunged directly into the "I." " Geffen wrote that most post-grunge songs that achieved mainstream success "call after a prospective or past companion in the first person". Post-grunge lyrics also tend to be about topics such as relationships, romance and drug addiction. According to Geffen, "grunge's frontmen posed with their addictions; post-grunge's songwriters sought redemption for them". According to Geffen, artists such as Alanis Morissette, No Doubt and Sarah McLachlan all "crystallized the songwriting strategy that would form the emotional core of the post-grunge moment". Post-grunge tends to have quality that is much higher and cleaner than the quality in grunge.
Even at the height of their popularity, after the release of Nevermind (1991) brought grunge to international attention, Nirvana experienced increasing problems, partly caused by Kurt Cobain's drug addiction and growing dissatisfaction with commercial success. In late 1992, Cobain was photographed in a T-shirt with 'Grunge is Dead' printed on the front and the genre's decline started to be widely discussed. The death of Cobain in 1994, as well as touring problems for Pearl Jam, marked a decline for grunge that year. Problems of addiction for Layne Staley of Alice in Chains led to the cancellation of scheduled dates for the band in 1995. When grunge was mainstream, major record labels began signing and promoting bands that were emulating the genre. In spite of the fact that bands such as Bush and Candlebox have been categorized as grunge, both bands have been categorized as post-grunge, too. Tim Grierson of About.com wrote about bands like Bush and Candlebox; he wrote:
"Perhaps not surprisingly, because these bands seemed to be merely ripping off a trendy sound, critics dismissed them as bandwagon-jumpers. Tellingly, these bands were labeled almost pejoratively as "post-grunge," suggesting that rather than being a musical movement in their own right, they were just a calculated, cynical response to a legitimate stylistic shift in rock music."
Collective Soul and Live are two other bands categorized as post-grunge that emerged when Bush and Candlebox emerged. Bush, Candlebox, Collective Soul and Live all achieved mainstream success; Candlebox's self-titled album was certified 4x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and, according to Nielsen SoundScan, sold at least 4,000,000 copies. Its song "Far Behind" peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. Collective Soul's song "Shine" peaked at number 11 on the same chart and was certified gold by the RIAA in September 1994. Collective Soul's album Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA and the band's self-titled album that was released in 1995 was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. Bush's debut studio album Sixteen Stone was certified 6x platinum by the RIAA and the band's second studio album Razorblade Suitcase, which peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200, was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. Carl Williott of Stereogum called Bush's album Sixteen Stone "a harbinger of post-grunge's pop dominance". Live's album Throwing Copper was certified 8x platinum by the RIAA and the band's album Secret Samadhi was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA. Both Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200.
In 1995, former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl's newer band Foo Fighters helped popularize post-grunge and define its parameters, becoming one of the most commercially successful rock bands in the United States, aided by considerable airplay on MTV. Like grunge bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, the post-grunge band Candlebox was from Seattle, but post-grunge was marked by a broadening of the geographical base of grunge, with bands categorized as post-grunge such as York, Pennsylvania's Live, Atlanta, Georgia's Collective Soul, Australia's Silverchair and England's Bush, who all paved the way for later post-grunge bands. Female solo artist Alanis Morissette's 1995 album Jagged Little Pill, which is considered a post-grunge album, became a hit and was certified 16x platinum by the RIAA in 1998. Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette sold at least 15,000,000 copies in the United States. Matchbox Twenty's debut album Yourself or Someone Like You, which was released in 1996, was a success during the late 1990s and it was certified 12x platinum by the RIAA.
With the first wave of post-grunge bands losing popularity, post-grunge morphed in the late 1990s, continued being popular in the late 1990s and was still popular in the entire 2000s decade with bands such as Creed, Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down, Puddle of Mudd, Staind, Audioslave, Incubus, Hoobastank and Nickelback, abandoning some of the angst and anger of the original movement for more conventional anthems, narratives and romantic songs. They were followed in this vein by newer acts such as Shinedown and Seether.
Creed's albums My Own Prison, which was released in 1997, and Weathered, which was released in 2001, both were certified 6x platinum by the RIAA. Weathered sold at least 6,400,000 copies in the United States. Creed's album Human Clay, which was released in 1999, was certified diamond by the RIAA and sold at least 11,690,000 copies in the United States. Human Clay's song "With Arms Wide Open" peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Nickelback broke into the mainstream in the early 2000s; their song "How You Remind Me" peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Nickelback album that featured the song, Silver Side Up, was certified 6x platinum by the RIAA and sold at least 5,528,000 copies in the United States. Nickelback's next album, The Long Road, was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA and sold at least 3,591,000 copies in the United States. The album's song "Someday" peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on both the Canadian Singles Chart and the Adult Top 40 chart. Nickelback's album All the Right Reasons was certified 8x platinum by the RIAA and sold at least 7,910,000 copies in the United States. Staind's album Break the Cycle peaked at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold at least 716,000 copies in its first week of being released. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Break the Cycle by Staind sold at least 4,240,000 copies in 2001. Break the Cycle's song "It's Been Awhile" peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. 3 Doors Down's debut studio album The Better Life was certified 6x platinum by the RIAA and sold at least 5,653,000 copies in the United States. 3 Doors Down's second studio album Away from the Sun was certified 4x platinum by the RIAA and sold at least 3,863,000 copies in the United States. Puddle of Mudd broke into the mainstream in the early 2000s; their album Come Clean was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA and the album's songs "Blurry" and "She Hates Me" both reached very high positions on the Billboard Hot 100. "Blurry" peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "She Hates Me" peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. "She Hates Me" also peaked at number 7 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart.
The post-grunge band Cold's song "Stupid Girl" peaked at number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100. Post-grunge band Crossfade's song "Cold" peaked at number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 23 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart, number 39 on the Pop 100 chart, number 28 on the Pop 100 Airplay chart, and number 57 on the Hot Digital Songs chart. "Cold" by Crossfade was certified gold by the RIAA in December 2006. Crossfade's self-titled album was certified platinum by the RIAA in August 2005. Three Days Grace broke into the mainstream during the 2000s; their song "Just Like You" peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on both the Mainstream Rock chart and the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The Three Days Grace song "I Hate Everything About You" peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 28 on the Pop Songs chart. In 2006, Three Days Grace released their album One-X, which was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. The album's song "Pain" peaked at number 44 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 47 on the Pop 100 chart and number 35 on the Hot Digital Songs chart. One-X's song "Never Too Late" peaked at number 71 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 12 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart, number 19 on the Pop 100 chart, number 17 on the Pop 100 Airplay chart, number 30 on the Hot Digital Songs chart, number 18 on the Hot Canadian Digital Singles chart, number 13 on the Adult Top 40 chart and number 1 on the Hot Adult Top 40 Recurrents chart. Daughtry broke into the mainstream in the 2000s; they released their debut album in 2006. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic noted the post-grunge sound of the album. Daughtry's debut album sold at least 5,040,000 copies in the United States. The band Flyleaf's song "All Around Me" peaked at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 12 on the Top 40 Mainstream, number 17 on the Pop 100, number 15 on the Pop 100 Airplay, number 38 on the Hot Digital Songs and number 23 on the Adult Top 40. Flyleaf's self-titled album was certified platinum by the RIAA.
Probably the most well-known grunge band to come out of England, Bush exploded onto the American music scene in 1994 with Sixteen Stone.