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The Nirvana Rebellion: Impact On Rock 'n' Roll

1461 words - 6 pages

Nirvana, led by vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain, was an American grunge band formed in Aberdeen, Washington. Starting in the local underground music scene, Nirvana experienced breakthrough mainstream commercial success since late 1991, until the suicide of Kurt Cobain in April 1994. During their eight-year career span, Nirvana released three studio albums, including Nevermind, which eventually established Nirvana into their stardom, and will went on to sell 30 million copies worldwide. Other than a considerable sales figure, Nirvana was notable for their innovative music style, as well as their reckless and rebellious image on stage. With their visible commercial success and cultural significance that still lasts today, Nirvana had a large impact on the evolution of Rock ’n’ Roll music, and thus is a major catalyst of change for the music industry.
Before Nirvana’s reign started in 1991, the music industry was fulfilled by other fancy-dressing rock bands and strategically marketed mainstream pop stars, with no space for alternative music to establish and promote their music to wider audiences. Michael Jackson, for instance, accurately represents the status that pop music had the biggest share of music market, with his album Dangerous topping the Billboard 200 Chart at the beginning of 1992 (Burlingame, Kurt Cobain: “Oh well, Whatever Nevermind”). Eventually, Dangerous topped the Billboard 200 chart continuously for more than one month after the album’s release, which also proves the commercial success of Michael Jackson and pop music industry as a whole. On the other hand, Rock ’n’ Roll music flourished almost exclusively in the form now known as hair metal; As bands like Van Halen gained their popularity, other record labels and bands saw it as an opportunity, and ended up pushing bands like Poison and White Riot into the music scene (Costabile, “Nirvana Interview”). Though these bands were soon proved lacking potential to be long-lasting, they were the dominant Rock ’n’ Roll force in the music scene. Alternative rock, instead, was not a mainstream flavor, as their listeners were heavily based in the bands’ origins, such as Minneapolis, Washington DC and Washington state; therefore, for a band like Nirvana, it was definitely not easy to establish themselves in such a competitive environment — but they were ready to take on the challenge.
Early 1992 was when Nirvana’s significance in the music industry started to flourish. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, the lead single from their breakthrough album Nevermind, gained overwhelming popularity, and as a consequence led to the success of Nevermind. On January 11 1992, Nirvana performed songs “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Territorial Pissing” as a music guest on Saturday Night Live, their network television debut (Burlingame, Kurt Cobain: “Oh well, Whatever Nevermind”). The appearance on Saturday Night Live was a game-changer for Nirvana’s career: Within 24 hours of their widely televised and highly...

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