A Tragedy Labeled Grunge

Topics: Alternative rock, Grunge, Nirvana Pages: 8 (3161 words) Published: March 29, 2011
And then there were none. This short sentence sums up the entirety of the grunge rock era in the early 1990s. No musical genre in history has found greatness so quickly and then raced into oblivion as fast as grunge did and few genres have relied so heavily on just a handful of artists. In the early 1990s there was a new type of music that was taking the masses by storm. There had been nothing new in the pop music world for a number of years and generation X was coming of age and demanded some kind of change. The days when Michael Jackson's style of pop and Metallica's methodical hair/death metal ruled the airwaves were just about to end. Generation X needed more relevance in their music even if it was not as cheery and magical as pop had sounded for some time. Madonna, ZZ Top, Rick Astley nor any other of the day's pop or rock singers could fill this void. The band that could be most closely considered in the realm of the message of grunge would have been Pink Floyd. The band has always incorporated a very real and sober message in the music they have produced. Nothing else mainstream was similar in any way. That is where the story gets fascinating because the original grunge band members never intended to be mainstream. The majority of the bands created music to play at underground shows and the music was intended only to be played for people who really wanted to hear and feel it. The popularization of the music and the bands that received the grunge label gave way to both the rise and the undoing of the genre, the bands and the band members themselves. This paper will concentrate on the short but very eventful life of the grunge genre. A focus will be on two of the pioneer bands, Nirvana and Alice In Chains, which were both from the Seattle, Washington, area and share an epic journey through the early 1990s. In the mid-1980s the new wave of electronic rock was wearing thin with the younger generation of musicians. There had been an invasion of the European pop style and electronica that coincided with the r&b infusion in the early 80s that was not what this new group of musicians wanted to take part in. The hair metal bands such as Poison, Warrant, White Snake and Bon Jovi were ruling the other side of the pop spectrum. Their music was all about glamor and showmanship and did not incorporate many artistic qualities beyond that. The sound of the existing styles were not seen as sincere by this new generation of musicians because they seemed to be produced specifically to sell music. The artists that would later be labeled grunge wanted their music to be felt in a way that did not exist in popular music at that time. They had stories they wanted to tell about scenarios that were not popular and might not sell records. The grunge bands were not started for the specific reason to sell records which is why they did not gain popularity until the early 90s. The bands' primary reason for existing was to expel the confusion, frustration and anger they held inside in a manner that was artistic so people would listen and possibly gain from their insight and experience. Once this new genre made its way to the underground shows in Seattle, where it all began, there was an explosion of talent that navigated toward it. It was not as musically complex as the metal music of the time so the music could be learned easily and played at home on acoustic or electric guitar. The grunge sound was characterized by a dirty guitar sound with strong riffs and heavy drumming. The dirty guitar sound came from a stylistic change from punk matched with distortion and heavy feedback. Most grunge incorporated a slow tempo and dissonant harmonies. The lyrics were filled with both a hollowness of doubt and insecurity and a disenchantment with the state of society. Once the grunge bands found huge followings in the Seattle area some decided to attempt to branch out and sell their albums nationally. A few of these...

Bibliography: 5. Cross, Charles R. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain
New York: Hyperion, 2001
6. Cobain, Kurt Journals New York: Riverhead Books, 2002
The Tragedy Labeled Grunge
A Research Paper Written By Patrick Kelley
November 18, 2010
[ 2 ]. Curt Cobain Journals (New York: Riverhead Books, 2002) 168
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