The 90s retro revival that’s been building up in various subcultural corners for the past few years has finally spilled over to the mainstream, with teen pop stars rocking Nirvana tees and Dr. Martens and legions of suburban kids following suit. For the greater pop culture it’s mostly been a fashion thing so far, and despite younger artists name-checking 90s artists, the revisiting of a broad range of sounds from the time (from alt rock to rap to R&B) that’s obsessed underground music circles hasn’t crossed over, and the pop charts are still dominated by hyper-futuristic rap stars and slickly produced country balladeers, with nothing remotely grunge-like in sight.
“The Way,” by Ariana Grande and Mac Miller, is the first indication that pop music’s ready for its 90s phase. The lead single from Daydreamin, the still-in-the-works debut album by Grande (who has a day job as a Nickelodeon star), it’s a piece of R&B-rap crossover bubblegum that couldn’t be any more 90s if Miller wore a Coogi sweater in the video. Oh wait, he does: