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The grunge movement was the introduction of an independent-rooted music genre and eventually more commercially successful offshoot of hardcore punk, thrash metal, and alternative rock in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Bands from cities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, such as Seattle, Olympia, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, made the grunge music genre popular with mainstream audiences. This kind of music is closely associated with Generation X.
Nirvana's Nevermind album coverAs a style of music, grunge is generally characterised by "dirty" guitar, strong riffs, heavy drumming and angstful (if not out-and-out dark) lyrics. Grunge is also popularly referred to as the Seattle Sound. Independent labels were key catalysts in bringing this style of music to the public initially. Many of the more successful bands of the era were associated with Seattle's Sub Pop record label, though several other independent Seattle-area labels gained recognition, including Kill Rock Stars and K Records. David Geffen is also said to have played a major role in marketing grunge to a mainstream audience.
Besides its punk roots, the grunge movement had strong roots in the Northwest musical culture and the local youth culture. The sonic resemblance to such 1960s Northwest bands as the Wailers and, most particularly, the Sonics, is unmistakable, and grunge clothing was a blend of the punk aesthetic with the typical outdoorsy clothing (e.g., R.E.I. and Eddie Bauer flannel shirts) of the region. This fashion, along with other aspects of the local culture, would end up being given (in the opinions of Seattle grunge fans) excessive importance by the media. An interesting case of this backfiring on the media was the grunge speak hoax, which caused The New York Times to print a fake list of slang terms that supposedly were used in the grunge scene. This was later proven to be a prank by Sub Pop's Megan Jasper. The excesses of this media hype would also be documented in the 1996 documentary Hype!.
The emergence of grunge as a genre and its embrace by the mainstream is usually thought of as a reaction against the popular dominance of hair metal. Hair metal bands, such as W.A.S.P., Poison, and Guns n' Roses, had been dominating the charts, especially in the US, for several years in spite of declining critical viability. Grunge music can be sharply constrasted to hair metal's macho lyrics, anthemic riffs, and a perceived lack of social consciousness, especially in the race to attract mainstream audiences. However, this began to have the opposite effect on audiences towards the end of the 1980s, and the popularity of hair metal began to die off as the popularity of grunge began to rise.
Pearl Jam's Ten album coverGrunge was embraced by youth for its simple defiance of the then-cultural norm, which was seen by many as a corporate-dominated and superficial popular culture. In the rock world, expensive, designer clothing was shunned in favor of flannel, jeans, and Doc Marten or Converse boots. (Especially in England, youth dressed in this fashion are sometimes called grungers.) Traditional rock and roll ostentatiousness became offensive, at least for the time being.
The mainstays of this rock genre were primarily Seattle-based bands, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden, though some bands from other regions, such as Stone Temple Pilots from San Diego, The Smashing Pumpkins from Chicago, Australia's Silverchair, and Great Britain's Bush were also popular. Nirvana is generally credited for breaking the genre into the popular consciousness in 1991 (see 1991 in music). The success of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (from the Nevermind album) surprised the entire music industry. The album was a #1 hit around much of the world, and paved the way for more bands, including, most popularly, Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam, in fact, had released their debut album Ten a month earlier in August 1991, but album sales only picked up after the success of Nirvana. For many audiences then and later, grunge came to be almost totally associated with these two bands and their punky, rebellious attitude towards mainstream mores as well as cultural and social institutions.
It has been widely debated as to who deserves the title "Godfather of Grunge". Mark Arm of Mudhoney, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Jack Endino of Skin Yard, Andrew Wood of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone, Buzz Osborne of The Melvins, and even Neil Young (who himself is not a grunge musician, but is considered an inspiration for the genre) have all been credited at one time or another. (See the external link below for more details on this debate.) The band Killdozer is also said to have influenced the grunge sound.
The mass popularity of grunge music was short-lived, however. It is believed by many that grunge effectively began its decline when Kurt Cobain committed suicide in April 1994. Interestingly, Cobain had often been photographed wearing t-shirts stating that "Grunge is Dead."
The general consensus of fans and music historians is that the genre was entirely too opposed to mainstream stardom to actually achieve long-lasting popularity. Many grunge bands refused to cooperate with the record labels in making radio-friendly hooks, and the labels found new bands that were willing to do so, albeit with a watered-down sound that did not sit well with the genre's long-time fans. However, a decline in music sales in general in 1996 may also have influenced labels to look for different genres to promote rather than genres such as grunge which had been popular up to that point.
For many fans of the genre, it wasn't until the dissolution of pioneering band Soundgarden in 1997 that they finally conceded grunge's time in the mainstream was over. However, it did last in the mainstream for a few years afterwards, though with less popularity. Many grunge bands have continued recording and touring with more limited success, including, most significantly, Pearl Jam.
Grunge music still has its followers, and many of them conduct heated debates about the history of the movement, its current meaning in society, seminal bands and modern day grunge musicians over the Internet. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grunge_music [Nov 2004]
Grunge fashionThough couture remains to this day an expensive, exclusive form of fashion, the Mod influence from the Sixties continues to this day in the form of popular streetwear occasionally influencing couture fashions. Witness, for example, the early Nineties versions of bell-bottoms that Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel created during the 70s-revival, or Perry Ellis' grunge clothes during the height of that movement. The other remainder of the Sixties' influence on couture fashion is the element of avant-garde, where some couture fashions are not practical or wearable, but simply designed for shock value. -- http://www.geocities.com/modmiss 
Nevermind (1991) - Nirvana
- Nevermind (1991) - Nirvana [Amazon.com]
If Nevermind's sound is familiar now, it's only because thousands of rock records that followed it were trying very hard to cop its style. It tears out of the speakers like a cannonball, from the punk-turbo-charged riff of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" onward, magnifying and distilling the wounded rage of 15 years of the rock underground into a single impassioned roar. Few albums have occupied the cultural consciousness like this one; of its 12 songs, roughly 10 are now standards. The record's historical weight can make it hard to hear now with fresh ears, but the monumental urgency of Kurt Cobain's screams is still shocking. --Douglas Wolk, Amazon.com
Freddy Filter Vs NirvanaMASTERSTROKE003 Freddy Filter Vs Nirvana / Come as You Are MP3 --MP3 via directrecords.co.uk [Dec 2005]
Courtesy Horny Hour, Horny Erwin, Erwin De Winter, Radio Centraal, Antwerpen.
Dedicated to Doms.
See also: grunge - dance
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