Grunge rock was a phenomenom created by a melting pot of punk, 70s metal, rain, coffee, cheap beer, and, occasionally, heroin. Rooted in Seattle, Washington, the emergence of grunge rock was the popularization of a soulful hard-rock that moved alternative rock from underground to mainstream in the early 1990s. Grunge was originally a tongue-in-cheek term for the pungent guitar noise propagated be cultish independent label Sub Pop. (Automatic Media Inc. , Grunge). Sub Pop was the original label to sign Nirvana which has now become one of the quintessential examples of grunge.
After signing with the major record label, Geffen, Nirvana was on its way to success. Even on MTV, Nirvana, as well as other grunge rock bands began to replace the once very prominent pop-metal acts on the channel. Nirvana began in Aberdeen, Washington when it was formed by singer/songwriter Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) and bassist Krist Novaselic. After their first album Bleach which was recorded for less than six-hundred dollars on the Sub Pop label, drummer David Grohl (now of Foo Fighters), was added to the lineup.
Nirvanas sound moved youth in a highly emotional manner with its ombination of pop melodies and the moodiness and thrashing of 70s rock. Cobains lyrics of self-deprecation and rage took form in lyrics that bordered on poetic. His singing could communicate a story or feeling in his throaty, pained voice that sounded as beautiful screaming in anger as it did in gentle ballads. Nirvana released the album Nevermind in 1991 and it soon went platinum. The hit single off the album, Smells Like Teen Spirit, hit number one on the charts and is now considered a modern teenage anthem.
Unfortunately, Nirvanas success overall led to the destruction of the very frail Cobain. Kurt Cobain arried Courtney Love of the band Hole and soon had a healthy daughter named Frances Bean. Nirvana then released another popular album ,In Utero, in 1993. Regardless, while touring in support of the new album in March 1994, Cobain overdosed on tranquilizers and champagne in Rome. The tour was cut short and Cobain went back to his home in Seattle for rest.
Only a month later, on April 28, 1994, Kurt Cobain committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. He was only 27 years old. In his suicide note, Cobain described himself as a sad little, sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man (Cobain 1). He explained that although he as aware of his success, he felt that he was a fraud because he was unable to relish in the adoration of the crowd and unable to appreciate it all. Although he spoke of feeling ungrateful, Cobains suicide seemed to center around the life of his daughter Frances Bean.
Kurt Cobain wrote that his daughter reminds me too much of what I used to be, full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. (Cobain 1), and that his death was necessary so that his daughter would not end up like him. He ended the note by urging wife, Courtney Love, to continue on for the ake of their daughter, and the words I Love You, I Love You! (Cobain 1) Amid the emergence of grunge rock in the 90’s, came a silent revolution in fashion. Throw away your aquanet and take off your uncomfortably glamorous stilettos.
All of a sudden wearing expensive and impractical garments didnt seem like such a brainchild. In response to the power-dressing and elitism of the 80’s came a new style: a style that centered around comfort. Loose-fitting pants: either old jeans or long shorts formed the base of the look for both males and females. Ratty flannel button-down shirts worn over hirts or long-sleeved undershirts were a must-have. A torn corduroy jacket, an old cardigan, or a baseball hat were the most common of accessories.
For footwear, there wasnt much variety but the durability and versatility of the choices made up for it. The most common footwear of the early 90’s were Converse sneakers or heavy-soled boots-preferably Doc Martens. With early-90s sneaker sales then 20 percent those of Nike and Reebok, Converse set out to build on the underground success of Puma and Vans and corner the alternative sneaker market. In addition to the increased popularity of heir existing styles, Converse began to experiment with new styles such as the All Star platform sneaker.
Converses landmark achievement, however, was its most simple design. The very basic Converse Jack Purcell canvas low-tops made their way into Vogue magazine and onto the feet of Nirvanas Kurt Cobain. The spot of color in the landscape of grunge: Manic Panic. Owners of a downtown New York boutique, Tish and Snooky Bellomo, first imported these vibrant dyes. With shades ranging from after midnight blue to cotton candy pink, Manic Panic hues have adorned the heads of celebrities like Perry Farrell, Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots, Mike D. f the Beastie Boys, and Billy Joe of Green Day.
At only eight dollars a jar and 32 colors to choose from, this vegetable-based hair dye made in Britain allowed for the frequent color change at whim. The grunge look, rooted in urban bohemianism and club comfort was emulated by youth across the country. (Poneman 213) This cheap, easy to assemble combination of clothes became the uniform of Generation X. Within the overwhelming success of grunge and alternative, a mini movement of music and politics called Riot grrl was forge.
It was and still is activist music, zines, and activity for those who are concerned with issues such as rape, abortion rights, bulimia/anorexia, beauty standards, exclusion from pop-culture, the sexism of everyday life, double standards, sexuality, self-defense, sizeism, racism, and classism. Riot grrl bands such as Bikini Kill and Bratmobile led the way for the movement with a rallying cry of Revolution Girl Style Now (Bikini Kill double dare ya). Results of riot grrl range from national conventions in D. C. , the Pussystock Festival in New York City, and hundreds of zines.
Some of the more otable of zines created in this persuasion include Girl Germs, Satan Wears A Bra, and Quit Whining. Zines are independently made publications that are first made by hand or on a computer and then photocopied and distributed through the mail or at a gathering (i. e. a concert). Their prices range from free to several dollars but are usually rather inexpensive because the creators of zines are far more concerned about getting their message out to the public then about making money. The price of a zine usually barely covers the cost of its creation as well as shipping and handling if it applies.
Instead of targeting the general public, zines cater to precise markets and often somewhat peculiar interests. Such is exhibited in zines such as Eraser Carvers Quarterly and Balloon Animals. Zine creation and distribution has been documented since its start by Factsheet Five: the zine about zines. Riot grrl zines in particular are made by women, young and old, who identify with either the music or beliefs associated with riot grrl. These zines are often very personal, but that is what makes them so appealing and groundbreaking.
Readers are offered pieces of writing, art, poetry or nything a zinester can come up with. However, unlike an article in a magazine like Seventeen, it is an honest, unedited, unhomogenized piece of expression. It may often provide a peephole through one girls perspective by intimately describing a struggle with something such as rape, molestation or an eating disorder, as well as provide a support group for girls so that they know that other people are going through the same thing they are. Not to mention, zines may provide pure entertainment or just something to think about.
While the name riot grrl was eventually stuck onto any aggressive or overtly exual girl-band, the real riot grrl ideals both in and outside of music have stayed strong in small independent record labels and many bands have kept their commitment to putting on inexpensive all-ages shows. Put on a pair of your oldest ripped jeans, and pop Nevermind into your cd player. The early 90s were a time to be remembered. The early 1990s were far superior to any decade or period of time our nation has gone through. Behind the revolution of riot grrl, behind the incredible music artists, and behind the layed back fashion, stood everpresent politics.
The early 90s were a time when olitics were not just left up to republicans in three piece suits, but instead a part of everyone. Young people who were thought of as slackers or Gen-Xers, took the pretentiousness out of meaningful change. Thousands of youth came together for the emotional music that they felt was somehow a part of them, and together they cast away the shackles of formality and bubblegum pop culture. All these kids became support for one another. They shared their pain, they shared their dreams, and they all walked away feeling just a little less lonely and a little less neglected.