Pop/Rock  •  Pop/Rock

Tribute Albums

In the late '80s, Tribute Albums became a hip phenomenon in the college-rock underground. In the '90s, they became an accepted part of the mainstream. The transition was a smooth, imperceptible one, because tribute albums are such a natural concept -- get a bunch of artists to cover their favorite musicians as a salute to their influences. Looking at it that way, it seems entirely natural that the whole thing had humble beginnings, since it was simply a bunch of fans paying tribute to their favorite acts. Similarly, it's easy to see why they became a mainstream favorite, since the temptation of hearing a major-league new star covering a major-league veteran is too great. But as the tribute album became more mainstream, it lost its charm, and it just became a marketing gimmick. But it was a successful one -- as the '90s became the '00s, there were as many tribute albums as ever, from major and minor labels alike.