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Grunge in the early 90s
Grunge rock was a phenomenom created by a melting pot of punk, ‘70s metal,
rain, coffee, cheap beer, and, occasionally, heroin. Rooted in Seattle,
Washington, the emergence of grunge rock was the popularization of a soulful
hard-rock that moved alternative rock from underground to mainstream in the
early 1990s. “Grunge was originally a tongue-in-cheek term for the pungent
guitar noise propagated be cultish independent label Sub Pop.”(Automatic Media
Inc., Grunge). Sub Pop was the original label to sign Nirvana which has now
become one of the quintessential examples of grunge. After signing with the
major record label, Geffen, Nirvana was on it’s way to success. Even on MTV,
Nirvana, as well as other grunge rock bands began to replace the once very
prominent pop-metal acts on the channel.
Nirvana began in Aberdeen, Washington when it was formed by singer/songwriter
Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) and bassist Krist Novaselic. After their first album “Bleach”
which was recorded for less than six-hundred dollars on the Sub Pop label,
drummer David Grohl (now of Foo Fighters), was added to the lineup.
Nirvana’s sound moved youth in a highly emotional manner with its
combination of pop melodies and the moodiness and thrashing of ‘70s rock.
Cobain’s lyrics of self-deprecation and rage took form in lyrics that bordered
on poetic. His singing could communicate a story or feeling in his throaty,
pained voice that sounded as beautiful screaming in anger as it did in gentle
ballads. Nirvana released the album Nevermind in 1991 and it soon went platinum.
The hit single off the album, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, hit number one on
the charts and is now considered a modern teenage anthem. Unfortunately, Nirvana’s
success overall led to the destruction of the very frail Cobain. Kurt Cobain
married Courtney Love of the band “Hole” and soon had a healthy daughter
named Frances Bean. Nirvana then released another popular album ,“In Utero”,
in 1993. Regardless, while touring in support of the new album in March 1994,
Cobain overdosed on tranquilizers and champagne in Rome. The tour was cut short
and Cobain went back to his home in Seattle for rest. Only a month later, on
April 28, 1994, Kurt Cobain committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
He was only 27 years old.
In his suicide note, Cobain described himself as a “sad little, sensitive,
unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man” (Cobain 1). He explained that although he
was aware of his success, he felt that he was a fraud because he was unable to
relish in the adoration of the crowd and unable to appreciate it all. Although
he spoke of feeling ungrateful, Cobain’s suicide seemed to center around the
life of his daughter Frances Bean. Kurt Cobain wrote that his daughter
“reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing
every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm.”
and that his death was necessary so that his daughter would not end up like
him. He ended the note by urging wife, Courtney Love, to continue on for the
sake of their daughter, and the words “I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!”(Cobain 1)
Amid the emergence of grunge rock in the 90\'s, came a silent revolution in
fashion. Throw away your aquanet and take off your uncomfortably glamorous
stilettos. All of a sudden wearing expensive and impractical garments didn’t
seem like such a brainchild. In response to the power-dressing and elitism of
the 80\'s came a new style: a style that centered around comfort.
Loose-fitting pants: either old jeans or long shorts formed the base of the
look for both males and females. Ratty flannel button-down shirts worn over
shirts or long-sleeved undershirts were a must-have. A torn corduroy jacket, an
old cardigan, or a baseball hat were the most common of accessories.
For footwear, there wasn’t much variety but the durability and versatility
of the choices made up for it. The most common footwear of the early 90\'s were
Converse sneakers or heavy-soled boots-preferably Doc Martens.
“With early-‘90s sneaker sales then 20 percent those of Nike and Reebok,
Converse set out to build on the underground success of Puma and Vans and corner
the alternative sneaker market.” In addition to the increased popularity of
their existing styles, Converse began to experiment with new styles such as the
All Star platform sneaker. Converse’s landmark achievement, however, was its
most simple design. The very basic Converse Jack Purcell canvas low-tops made
their way into Vogue magazine and onto the feet of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.
The spot of color in the landscape of grunge: Manic Panic.
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Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain, DIY culture, Fanzines, Grunge, Bleach, Nirvana, In Utero, Nevermind, Frances Bean Cobain, Cobain, Riot grrrl
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