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A sleek subgenre of pop rock prevalent between 1996 and 2001 which incorporates elements of '90s alternative rock as well as a distinctive corporate lyrical influence. Major mall rock acts include Smash Mouth, Barenaked Ladies, Fastball, Third Eye Blind, and "Green Album"-era Weezer. Some of the work of acts from the same era (Ben Folds Five, Cake, Eels) falls under the mall rock genre banner as well. The genre was greatly influenced by the soft and yacht rock scenes of the 1970s, intellectual '80s new wave, and '90s U2.

The scene rose after the decline of grunge in the mid-'90s. Many recording companies wanted to distance themselves with the self-destructive nature of the underground rock scene and favored more corporate-sounding groups. As a means to gain an even larger demographic of listeners, slicker production methods were used - such as the increased inclusion of synthesizers. Much of the music that rose to prominence during this time featured heavy consumeristic themes, and, while some acts used said themes ironically, most others rather promoted them. The music was meant to sound optimistic and hopeful, making it very successful for a good five-year period. Major hits of the era include "All Star" by Smash Mouth, "Islands in the Sun" by Weezer, "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals, "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies, "The Way" by Fastball, and "The Distance" by Cake. The style evaporated after 9/11. No major revivals of the sound have occurred since then.
"Weezer used to be a really good band... that is, until they went total mall rock!"
by Harry Nilsson June 29, 2018
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