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The Rock Renaissance Part 1: Nirvana and the Grunge Movement

The ’90s was a special time for rock music. All sorts of new sounds were erupting. Artists were experimenting left and right to bring their vision to life.

Grunge was the dominant rock movement in the early ’90s. Kurt Cobain and his trio (Consisting of him, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic) Nirvana, were its founders. They were making a noise like never before. Their guitars were dirty, their drums pounding, and Kurt’s vocals were raspy. However, his audience wasn’t exactly the general populace. He was beginning a movement. He wanted to talk directly to Generation X: Teenagers and college students who wanted something new from their radios. They quickly rose to popularity, with their 1991 album Nevermind selling like wildfire on release. To this day it still holds a spot on the Billboard Top 100 Albums. This was largely due to the most popular track put out by the band: “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The song was so catchy that it had gained immediate popularity. Many other bands began capitalizing on this market after seeing the band’s success. The most notable bands to be considered “grunge” were Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains, all with their own unique spin on the genre. Soundgarden took influence from hard rock, Alice in Chains resembled a new breed of metal, and Pearl Jam had built a sound unlike any other; the band was mixing punk with insane guitar solos.  These bands all gained quick success, but none could match the raw power of Nirvana. The band kept pushing through and released the album In Utero in 1993. Despite all of this, Kurt hated this success. He wasn’t playing for the masses, he was playing for himself. Becoming mainstream was his worst nightmare, and it was unfolding in front of him. Dark days were yet to come. In April of 1994, grunge was pronounced dead. Kurt was found dead in his home. The public was outraged, and there were immediate speculations of foul play. It is believed by most that Courtney Love, his widowed wife, was involved in his death. Generation X had lost its hero, and couldn’t believe it was true. The death of grunge would lead to other artists and bands having to fill the open void that grunge left.