Saturday, September 26, 2009

Probably the second most popular thing ever to come out of Seattle

This week we'll be looking at dirt, grime, something repugnant and unpleasant. Grungy, if you will.

That's right, this week we're talking about grunge. It's not the stuff you get under your fingernails when you're working on cars. It's not the stuff that develops around the bottom of your bathtub. It's not a flesh-eating bacteria. It's the music, man.

The grunge movement started in Seattle in the late 80s. For a while a bunch of local bands practiced a style of music that features a lazy vocal delivery, sludgy guitar sound with lots of distortion, and downbeat, angst filled lyrics in their garages and in local venues.

A few of the factors that led to the development of grunge were the weather and the area's isolation from the national music scene. The rainy weather that Seattle is known for led to a less than cheery sound to the music. Just think about how you feel when it rains at your house for days on end. The isolation of the area is a big part of what led to such a consistent sound for bands coming out of the area at the time.

These bands often had no real aspirations for mainstream success, but that's eventually what grunge found starting with acts like Pearl Jam , Soundgarden , and Nirvana . Pearl Jam was the first grunge band to sign with a major record, but Nirvana jump started the grunge movement with their album Nevermind.

The grunge was more than just music though, it was a whole culture. The grunge look featured men and women both wearing flannel, work boots, and other outdoor clothing. Ripped jeans were also a staple for grungers. The look was very unkempt and was inspired by what performers wore onstage.

Aaron's thoughts: The truth is, I never was a fan of anything considered grunge. I take a shower everyday, I don't like holes in my clothes, and I never really liked Nirvana. But I can at least appreciate it some for the impact it has had on Rock music.

Daniel's thoughts: I remember when I was very young my best friend's older brother was really in to this music and the whole grunge look. This naturally trickled down to the younger siblings and so I dressed semi-grungy just to fit in. We would have a flannel button-up (that wasn't buttoned) and a t-shirt. I didn't have any kinda boots or ripped up jeans. I guess I was grunge-lite! As far as the music goes, I was a fan of Nirvana for about 5 minutes. It's just hard for me to appreciate a song I can't understand!

The Bottom Line: Grunge began as a rejection of commercialism, so the fact that it caught on and was marketed is pretty ironic. The music often features lyrics abut dissatisfaction or unhappiness. And if you're not unhappy with grunge, then I guess you had to be there!

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