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Nirvana’s Effect On American Culture And Society

2443 words - 10 pages

The American rock band Nirvana impacted American culture and society by paving the way for the punk rock subculture into mainstream corporate America. Punk rock music stems from the rock genre but has its own agenda. The crux of punk rock is that it is a movement of the counterculture against the norms of society. Punk rock in itself is made up of a subculture of people who rejected the tameness of rock and roll music during the 1970s. (Masar, 2006, p. 8). The music stresses anti-establishment and anti-authoritarian ideas in its lyrics as well as scorns political idealism in American society. Before Nirvana unintentionally made punk rock a multi-million dollar commercialized genre of music, underground rock paved the way for the punk rock genre by creating core values that punk rockers drew upon.
Underground rock was a term for a style of music that was different from the popular sounds of British rock bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. During the Golden Age of rock music which lasted from 1962 to the late 1970s, several distinct subgenres of rock music emerged- folk rock, blues rock, country rock, and garage rock. Garage rock became the basis for underground rock, and although it was not commercially successful, it would become the base for the punk rock movement. The underground rock scene started in 1965 as a reaction to the social and political injustices of the time period. Resentment of American involvement in the Vietnam War and the African American civil rights movement created an angry and rebellious youth culture. At the same time, America was impaired by high unemployment rates and increasing poverty levels. Music from the underground scene reflected the way the youth felt about the state of the world. They sang openly about drug use, death, and the destruction of the world. From underground rock, punk rock and Nirvana drew their anti-establishment and anti-authority ideologies. ( Masar, 2006, p. 12-13).
Punk rock music then splintered into three major forms: New Wave, post-punk, and hardcore. The term New Wave was just an synonym for punk rock created by record companies and radio stations that felt that punk rock was just a fad. The New Wave bands such as A Flock of Seagulls strayed away from their punk rock sound and began using more commercial styles to sell their music. However, they still held fast to their anti-authoritarian base by sporting neon clothing, large jewelry, and wild hair.
The second major genre created after the split of punk rock was post-punk music. It was a middle ground between hardcore and New Wave. It was not as extreme and aggressive as hardcore punk, yet it retained some it the feelings of anger and frustration that underground rock instilled. Post- punk was not nearly was commercialized as New Wave. However, since post-punk lacked the furious pace and violent lyrics of hardcore punk, a small but loyal audience was found for post-punk enthusiasts by record companies. Kurt Cobain...

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