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Grunge 101

Exception or mainstream?


Grunge 101

Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam at Lollpalooza 2007.

Photo by Roger Kirby / Getty Images

Grunge was not just an exception in the 80s but clearly a by-product of the most commercialized era in rock and roll to that date.

Born in Seattle, it was essentially a combination of punk and metal, following an established trend in rock of hybrid forms of music breaking boundaries (prog = classical plus psychedelic, southern = country plus hard rock.)

The first bands to put one and one together were Green River, Mudhoney and a band that is arguably the best grunge ever, The Melvins (check out the track "Rovolve") in the mid 80s. Think Led Zeppelin plus Black Flag. Think an indie Black Sabbath.

The sound was grunge (Sweat Leaf) and the subject matter was social alienation, like punk. But while punk fans swore and spat at their idols, grunge fans crowd-surfed, stage-dived and head-banged. Lumberjack shirts were essential.

By the late 80s, grunge was going mainstream. Pearl Jam and Nirvana were on everybody's lips, by 1992 Nirvana played on MTV Unplugged.

Nivana's Nevermind was a grunge paradox: was it a sea change in rock, or a sellout of grunge? Was Seattle the new Liverpool? If so, did this mean the end?

By the 1990s, grunge has been killed of by Brit-pop, remaining in the public consciousness only through the deification of Kurt Cobain.

Pop 10 Grunge Tracks of All Time:

1 - The Melvins "Revolove"

2 - Alice in Chains "Junkhead"

3 - Mad Season "Artificial Red"

4 - Mudhoney "Touch Me I'm Sick"

5 - Nirvana "Very Ape"

6 - Pearl Jam "Alive"

7 - Silverchair "Tomorrow"

8 - Soundgarden "Black Hole Sun"

9 - Gruntruck "Tribe"

10 - Tad "Jack Pepsi"

by Paul Phodes

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