Once upon a time, in an era far, far away (the 80’s), pop rock enslaved the public consciousness. Catchy guitar riffs and crazy hair defined glam metal with acts Poison, Bon Jovi, and Guns N’ Roses regularly topping the charts. That is, until two kids from Aberdeen, Washington kicked the cheesy solos and ignited the Seattle grunge scene by forming the now iconic band – Nirvana. Now, while it may seem odd to talk about the collaboration between Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and later Dave Grohl as ancient history, April 5th, 2014 will mark 20 years since the death of Cobain.
Entire generations have shifted, yet it doesn’t feel so long ago that Cobain was performing at the MTV Music Video Awards, playing the opening bars of their song “Rape Me” against the requests of the network.
Not to mention horrifying some execs.
It makes sense, considering how their sound has continued to live on through more current alternative rock bands such as Weezer and Muse. These bands borrow Nirvana’s style of stripped down, minimal verses working in contrast to heavy choruses.
Oh yeah, it’s still popular with the kids.
But it’s not just rock bands that feel Nirvana’s reach. Hip hop today has had issues with saturation since Pac and Biggie, much like rock and roll did following Led Zeppelin and The Who. It was only the D.I.Y. anti-commercialism attitude of Nirvana that brought rock and roll back from the brink of bastardization, not unlike an artist such as Kendrick Lamar has attempted with rap by focusing on melodies and overarching themes, rather than catchy hooks and fast rhymes.
“Even though you couldn’t quite tell what he was singing about, you knew it was intense as hell” – Butch Vig, producer of Nevermind.
Nirvana and their nihilistic spirit will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10th, 2014, their first year eligible. While many other bands have waited longer for a bid, there’s no need here. Nirvana’s impact on music in this age of consumerism is timeless.