Chris Gray's write-up of the Brian Setzer Orchestra's "Christmas Rocks" show at the Arena Theatre a couple of weeks ago got me thinking. These days, the swing maestro seems to be comfortably settled into his own little niche in the music industry, playing swingin' Christmas carols to grown folks. But back in 1999, he was ridin' high on the pop charts. The Swing Revival was of the year's biggest trends, and Setzer was right on the cutting edge of a hot new look and sound.
Photo by Jason Wolter Brian Setzer strikes up the band. Er, orchestra.
Now, to put it kindly, he ain't. The Swing Revival was one among many odd little musical fads that took hold of the mainstream in the late '90s. In fact, identifying and exploiting new fads was the dominant business model of the record industry at the time, and it was successful as hell. Record companies had never sold so many copies of hit albums before, and they certainly haven't since.
The king of swing seems to be doing all right for himself, at least. But catching up with Setzer got me curious about what the other survivors of 1999's Year of the Fad are up to these days. Who was buying all of those Jessica Simpson and Coal Chamber CDs, and why can't those artists still move tens of millions of units?
Hey, the holidays are all about reminiscing. Let's revisit the Top 5 musical trends of 1999 and poke around for some answers, shall we?