Chris Molanphy remembers the 1991 Billboard hits.

How Did Nirvana Lose to Bryan Adams in 1991?

How Did Nirvana Lose to Bryan Adams in 1991?

A daily news and culture podcast with Mike Pesca.
Aug. 26 2016 6:11 PM

The Year Nirvana Lost Out to Bryan Adams

1991 marked the beginning of a decade of musical narrowcasting. With Kurt Cobain and A Tribe Called Quest splitting the vote, Color Me Badd rose to the top.

Bryan Adams performs in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Nov. 13, 1991.

Frans Schellekens/Redferns/Getty Images

Listen to Episode 570 of Slate’s The Gist:


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: Our guest Chris Molanphy says 1991 was a tale of multiple cities, as radio stations began to tailor their playlists to narrower audiences. The result? Little crossover among the Billboard pop, rock, and rap songs charts, and a very eclectic Hot 100 chart. Molanphy writes Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” column.

For the Spiel, Mike cleans out the fridge before vacation.

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Mike Pesca is the host of the Slate daily podcast The Gist. He also contributes reports and commentary to NPR.