Posts filled under #grunge

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An extract on #grunge

Grunge became commercially successful in the early 1990s, due to releases such as Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, Soundgarden's Superunknown, Alice in Chains' Dirt and Stone Temple Pilots' Core. The success of these bands boosted the popularity of alternative rock and made grunge the most popular form of rock music at the time. Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, they influenced modern rock music, as their lyrics brought socially conscious issues into pop culture and added introspection and an exploration of what it means to be true to oneself. Grunge was also an influence on subsequent genres such as post-grunge (a derivative of grunge) and nu metal. Grunge fuses elements of punk rock and heavy metal, such as the distorted electric guitar used in both genres, although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other. Like these genres, grunge typically uses electric guitar, bass guitar, a drummer and a singer. Grunge also incorporates influences from indie rock bands such as Sonic Youth. Lyrics are typically angst-filled and introspective, often addressing themes such as social alienation, apathy, concerns about confinement, and a desire for freedom. A number of factors contributed to grunge's decline in prominence. During the mid-to-late 1990s, many grunge bands broke up or became less visible. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, labeled by Time as "the John Lennon of the swinging Northwest", appeared unusually tortured by success and struggled with an addiction to heroin before he died by suicide at the age of 27 in 1994.

The word "grunge" was used in print prior to the use of the term in mainstream publications, to refer to the Seattle music genre. The word appears on a 1957 Johnny Burnette rockabilly album, in 1965 as "American English teen slang" to refer to sloppy, dirty aspects or untidiness, by music critic Lester Bangs in 1972, by writer Paul Rambali in a 1978 NME article to describe mainstream guitar rock, and in a 1986 SPIN magazine article which stated that "Noise. Rock has always been about it. There's primal grunge...,distortion...and fuzz...", a reference to distorted sounds in rock in a general sense. Mark Arm, the vocalist for the Seattle band Green Riverand later Mudhoneyis generally credited as being the first to use the term grunge to describe the Seattle genre of music. Arm first used the term in 1981, when he wrote a letter under his given name Mark McLaughlin to the Seattle zine Desperate Times, criticizing his own band Mr. Epp and the Calculations as "Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure shit!". Clark Humphrey, contributor to Desperate Times, cites this as the earliest use of the term to refer to a Seattle band, and mentions that Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop popularized the term as a musical label in 198788, using it on several occasions to describe Green River. Sub Pop called Green River's 1986 EP Dry as a Bone "ultra-loose GRUNGE that destroyed the morals of a generation." Everett True states that when Arm stated that Seattle's streets were "paved with grunge", he was using the word in a negative way to mean "[w]orthless." In this use of the word "grunge", Arm was using it as an adjective, not to describe a music genre. Arm said years later that he did not make the term up himself; he stated that the term had been used in Australia in the mid-1980s to describe bands such as King Snake Roost, The Scientists, Salamander Jim, and Beasts of Bourbon. Arm used grunge as a descriptive term rather than a genre term, but it eventually came to describe the punk/metal hybrid sound of the Seattle music scene. Catherine Strong states that grunge's "dirty sound" in the late 1980s, when low budgets, unfamiliarity with recording and a "deliberate lack of professionalism" may be the origin of the term "grunge". The term "grunge" has been extended to other forms, such as writer Josh Henderson referring to Seattle scene members from the 1990s as "grungers" in 2016. When grunge first developed, music journalists called it "pain rock", due its strong influence from Black Sabbath's "negativity". Grunge was also called the "Seattle sound" or referred to as the "Seattle scene", the latter a reference to the active music subculture in that city centred around the independent label Sub Pop, the "strong alternative scene", the University of Washington, and the Evergreen State College. Evergreen State was a progressive college which did not use grading and which had its own alternative music radio station. Bands from Portland, Oregon, such as the Wipers, also influenced the genre's pioneers. Some bands associated with the genre, such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, have not been receptive to the label, preferring instead to be referred to as "rock and roll" bands. Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden stated that he "hates the word" grunge and hates "being associated with it." Seattle musician Jeff Stetson states that when he visited Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a touring musician, the local musicians did not refer to themselves as "grunge" performers or their style as "grunge" and they were not flattered that their music was being called "grunge". Rolling Stone noted the genre's lack of a clear definition. Robert Loss acknowledges the challenges of defining "grunge"; he states that one can recount stories from the grunge scene to try and explain it, but as soon as you try to define grunge this way, "it slips out of your hand". Roy Shuker states that the term "obscured a variety of styles." Stetson states that grunge was not a movement, "monolithic musical genre", or a way to react to 1980s-era metal pop; he calls the term a misnomer mostly based on hype. Shuker states that the "'Seattle sound' became a marketing ploy for the music industry." Stetson also states that prominent bands considered to be grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney and Hammerbox) all sound different. Mark Yarm, author of Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, pointed out vast differences between grunge bands, with some being punk and others being metal-based.