Friday, April 11, 2014

Overrated and Hardly Original

I will never understand the appeal of Nirvana, and that's probably a good thing.

What people don't understand is that they were much beloved when they came out--they sold a ton of CDs (vinyl was pretty much gone by 1992) and they were played relentlessly. They tapped into the aggression left by the death of hair metal. When a metal band says that their career ended because of Nirvana, they're lying. Their career ended because, by 1990, nobody gave a shit about their music anymore because it was corporatized and given a glossy video sheen. Nirvana didn't end anyone's career--the power ballad did.

By the summer of 1993, people turned on Nirvana. They hated the overexposure of the band and laughed at how many times Kurt was caught being on drugs. There was little, if any, love for their follow-up album, In Utero, and that's why you have snippets like this that are conveniently forgotten:

The band had hoped to reach a market of intelligent iconoclasts, people who distrust bands that are too popular because if so, they must be too easy to take. "When the album first started getting heavy play, I think we were mostly concerned with losing those college kids," Mr. Cobain said of "Nevermind." "For some reason, that didn't happen to us."

Looking back, he now thinks "Nevermind" sounds too "clean." "Ugh," he said. "I'll never do that again. It already paid off, so why try to duplicate that? And just trying to sell that many records again, there's no point in it."

In other words, Nirvana was a band trying to drive the fans away. Had Cobain lived, the band wouldn't have seen anything other than diminished sales and difficult albums. Hardly the grist for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that stands for everything Cobain hated.

It's interesting to see Michael Stipe induct them into the Hall of Fame, by the way. When did R.E.M. lose the same plot and end up irrelevant?

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