How Did Kurt Cobain Change the Face of Music?

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It is virtually impossible to be alive and not have heard of Kurt Cobain. He was born on February 20 1967 and died at just 27 years old of suicide. Many people will think of Kurt Cobain as the epitome of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. He lived fast and enjoyed partying. However, there was much more to this man than at first meets the eye.

Starting in the Music Business

Kurt Cobain started the band Nirvana – it was a grunge band which quickly took his home town of Aberdeen by storm. His original music was angry and is believed to be a result of his difficult upbringing. Kurt’s parents had an increasingly difficult marriage which ended in divorce. Although he chose to live with his father, he did not get along with his subsequent step mother.

His interest in music led him to the local punk rock scene and, after several skirmishes with the law, to Krist Novoselic; the co-founder of Nirvana.

The high level of popularity in their home county led to a music contract; their first album was released in 1989 but failed to make a significant splash in the world of music. It is possible that the world was not yet ready for their music, generally themed against the establishment.

Despite this the gained a music contract with a major record label and proceeded to release ‘Nevermind’; this is believed to be the cornerstone of a music revolution!

How Did One Album Change the face of Music?

It may be amazing to think that one album can have such a dramatic effect on music but there are several reasons why this is true of Nevermind and Nirvana in general:

  • The song was the breakthrough into the big time that Nirvana needed. But, it was also a way of introducing grunge and alternate rock to thousands of new people. The song was catchy, yet relevant and appealed to the masses. Kurt Cobain became the voice that a new generation of young adults could relate to.
  • Because Kurt was wary of fame there were many rumors that sprung up round him, the band and the song. These contributed to the success of the song and the genre of music as a whole.
  • Accessibility – It wasn’t just Kurt Cobain that had a connecting to the everyday person. Despite the speed and pitch of grunge, the vocals appealed to a much wider audience. This is because of small details such as double-tracking the vocals.
  • Cobain was also able to mock his own production; helping to keep him and the music accessible. This was simply a case of him stating his mind; comments such as “it’s kind of lame”; about the album Nevermind helped to retain the enthusiasm of his diehard fans. Meanwhile, the smooth finished product created by Andy Wallace ensured it held appeal to the masses.

At a time when Michael Jackson was top of the charts with Dangerous, Nevermind showed, by knocking him off the top spot, how popular alternate music had become. The result was a shift in the willingness of other music producers to embrace new sounds. This is perhaps the greatest legacy of Kurt Cobain; enabling all types of music to gain access to the popular music scene.