Now that I have your attention: Nirvana was overrated. I’m sure you will find more people that agree with my sentiment than people that don’t. Let me explain what I mean. Recently, I started renting books from the library. Since I didn’t have the internet at home, I have reserved some afternoons using the local library Wi-Fi and realized that they have physical books around. It seemed only reasonable that I would begin perusing the aisles of these “physical books”.

After some mindless scanning, I noticed a name that I hadn’t seen in a while. Chuck Klosterman. Not because he doesn’t write books anymore, it’s just been a long time since I went into a bookstore. He’s written seven non-fiction books and two novels. Obviously, he has written for many major publications. To me, he’s simply an intellect, who discusses a lot of pop culture from a Generation X point-of-view.

I was introduced to his writings when I worked for an e-commerce company back in 2008. Sex, Drugs and Coco Puffs hit me at the right time. Someone at work left it sitting at one of the computer terminals. I noticed it and read the jacket.

Seemed interesting.

However, I didn’t want to simply steal someone’s book. What if they came back looking for it? So, I decided to borrow it during working hours.

The company allowed us to read, do schoolwork (for college kids), or listen to music. It was a chat-based “call center” for people that needed help for certain clients across the North American continent and the UK.

My days proceeded with me working at my desk, reading this book incessantly. But not to be a dick, I would place it back on the desk where I found it every night. In case the book’s owner wanted to take it home. This went on for a couple of weeks. Finally, I grabbed it and left it at my desk. Eventually, I finished the book and found it spoke to me. My sensibilities, humor, and view of Gen-X culture. I wanted to find more. But I couldn’t. This was before Amazon or torrents.

Jump to last week, I found two of his books on the shelf. For the first time since elementary school, I rented two books from the library and took them home. It was a great morale achievement to me. To be completely honest, I probably could’ve found them online, but their internet is so slow. I didn’t have the impatience to wait.

The first book was The Nineties. It’s his latest book, released earlier this year. Klosterman breaks down the 1990s using the notion of the Mandela Effect. A theory that postulates that people believe things that happened in a way they didn’t happen. It stems from people believing that Nelson Mandela died in prison and saw his funeral on television years before his release from a South African jail.

Stripping away the “nostalgia” factor or our lack of desire to find out if anything was true. Many people don’t understand what life was like before the internet. You couldn’t find random pieces of information within seconds. Watch retro music videos.

How does this relate to Nirvana was overrated? It’s because he believes it too. It was less that raw punk sound that we experienced in the eighties. But more of a “pop” version of it. Kurt Cobain even said that about his music. While the bands were real, they were simply plucked from the Seattle scene. Much like Christina Aguilar and Mandy Moore were given deals to capitalize on the popularity of Britney Spears. Sometimes it was producers that wanted to double dip in their cash cow. As Maurice Starr did when he created New Edition and replicated it with New Kids on the Block. Or, as Lou Pearlman did with Backstreet Boys and N’Sync.

Much of it comes down to Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Had he never killed himself, would he still be an icon? The epitome of the nineties? Would he still be the pinnacle of grunge if he made it to his fifties? Check out some of the bands from that time? How many of them are still selling out stadiums.

The same can be true that Nirvana killed traditional rock music. Nirvana was born out of a cynic, depressive with deep rooted mental health issues. That isn’t to say that some (if not all) of theirs was good. But a masterpiece? Nirvana was overrated.

I had just graduated high school at the start of the summer of ‘91. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was about to be on continuous rotation that summer. I dug the song, but never thought the band was life changing. My thoughts were more that it was over-played.

In the current 2020 culture, saying that I don’t like Nirvana would be the equivalent of saying that I hate grunge music. As the meme, “I like pancakes. So, you hate waffles then?” Or the latest TikTok video of a black woman calling Drew Barrymore a racist because she was dancing in the rain. Citing appropriation of a video made by two black men earlier this year doing the same thing. It’s safe to say, she doesn’t have much support for her view, especially from black people.

This is a long-winded way of saying that I don’t hate people that do love Nirvana. The band did not define the decade. Some would say that the nineties began when the Berlin Wall fell and ended with the destruction of the Twin Towers. As you can see, it doesn’t fit into the number scheme. The wall fell in 1989, as the WTC attacks happened in 2001.

Nirvana was a good band with some good songs. Personally, I thought Pearl Jam was a better band. However, I think the populace (from the time) revere them simply because they were first out the gate. And the early demise of its front man helped canonize him as a saint. To many, their introduction to the zeitgeist was when the nineties began.

There is a firm belief (shared only by me), that if any other band broke out at that time, would they be held in such high regard? If Pearl Jam or Soundgarden dropped their first song in 1991.The nineties was when music made a seismic shift in popular culture. Gone were the hair bands, pop carefree music, and euro-synth. Enter the era of grunge, R&B, and gangsta rap. So, Nirvana was overrated.

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