I Never Really Got Grunge

I gotta admit, I was never much of a Nirvana fan. I don’t think “teen angst” really hit me until I was in my mid-30s, so grunge music just sounded like dudes playing their guitars loud and mumbling incomprehensibly. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I pretty much despised grunge music. No rhythm, no message other than “we’re bored and loud”, and lots of groaning. It just sounded like a bunch of rich dudes sounding sorry for themselves. But obviously, in the early 90s, I was in the minority, as bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam sold billions of records, and lesser bands like Alice in Chains and whoever did that god awful Black Hole Sun song also groaned about how awful being rich and famous was. If someone who was a big grunge fan can please enlighten me on why that you liked that music/movement, it would be greatly appreciated. I know I’m being snarky here, but I’d really like to know what it was I was missing. I promise not to be a jerk about it in the comments. I don’t hate grunge in the same way I hate, say, modern country or Atlanta rappers (other than Outkast).

4 thoughts on “I Never Really Got Grunge

  1. In terms of the hierarchy of music greatness, my trusty pole suggests the following:

    1. Classic Rock
    2. Blues
    3. Jazz
    4. Two guys banging on manhole covers
    5. Grunge
    6. Spike Jones (not to be confused with Spike Jonse)
    7. The flatulance scene from Blazing Saddles
    8. A good hummer
    9. Heavy Metal
    10. Rap

    Adjust your every thought and taste accordingly.

  2. I may be a tad too young to have enjoyed grunge fully in its heyday- however, from 5th grade, to, well, now- many grunge bands have continued to be my preferred musical choice. The way that I understand grunge is that it started as a direct underground response to the cheesy glam-hair-80's rock that was running rampant on the radio at the time. Much like in the punk rock movement, teenagers (more specifically white teenagers) felt underrepresented in a time in a America where they felt there was not much to jump up and down over. Politics was corrupt, STDs rates and poverty populations were growing exponentially, church and state continued to be challenged daily, and, while these teens may not have been directly affected by these situations- there was still a sense of uncertainty and a feeling of helplessness in contemplating their roles in the world (*see Fight Club “We have no war” speech). As Teens, the only people they had representing them spent more hours on their make-up and hair than Tammy Faye-Baker. Ergo, grunge was a more authentic representation for many teens.(Also, I dislike the notion that because someone is white and comes from a decent amount of money-which, by the way, not many grunge artists did- that they couldn't possibly have something to complain about).
    What I particularly enjoy about grunge was it's bridge from metal (from which it is largely based on) to a music that allowed some (actual) singing and a little less ludicrously long guitar wailing. Teenagers everywhere started buying strats, pounding on drum pads, and, yes, writing out angst ridden lyrics. As a white boy (and occasional girl) music, and becoming a musician, became attainable (without having to be a complete narcissistic douche with big hair). While there were some grunge bands who didn't have all that much musical talent- groups such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Nirvana knew how to match the tone of their instruments to their emotions- they showed undeniable talent on the guitar, drums, etc, without going overboard and getting to “showy” with it.
    Anyway, I don't want to go on for too long here, but I would also like to defend my favorite singer/vocalist, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Black Hole Sun), who is able to sing Ave Maria so sweetly that your eyes fill with tears, and in the same breath can sing about the corruption of big religion and the feeling of betrayal he has felt personally from the church. Perhaps it is the paradox and conflict of soul (one that I would argue, many of us have experienced) that I like most about Grunge music.

  3. I think you have to experience the overwhelmingly depressing atmosphere of the Pacific NW to really understand grunge. Once I did, it all clicked for me. Nirvana never sounded so good.

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