The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, November 29, 2021


Nirvana's Nevermind: An album forged by contradictions
At the heart of the album's success were the strange contradictions of Cobain, who was torn between apathy and rebellion, sweetness and rage.

by Eric Randolph



PARIS.- Released 30 years ago this week, "Nevermind" was a generation-defining milestone that sold 30 million copies and made a tragic icon of Kurt Cobain.

Ranked the most influential band of all time by US magazine Spin last year, Nirvana's ethos continues to reverberate in artists as varied as Billie Eilish, Lana Del Rey and Frank Turner.

"Nevermind" was back in the news last month when the man who was photographed when he was a baby for the cover sued the band for sexual exploitation.

He was pictured naked, swimming after a dollar bill on a fish hook, in an image that became another iconic aspect of an album whose lead track "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was ubiquitous across MTV and radio stations around the world.

At the heart of the album's success were the strange contradictions of Cobain, who was torn between apathy and rebellion, sweetness and rage.

Mainstream punk

Nevermind united musical tribes that had been largely separate -- punk, indie, metal -- and added a pop element that made them accessible to everyone else.

"It's been building up through the years... Nirvana came along and delivered the goods," said Thurston Moore, of fellow grunge outfit Sonic Youth, at the time.

"It was very pop but very honest and very authentic of the whole American punk rock ethic."

In doing so, Nirvana made all the permed-hair, spandex-wearing posturing of 1980s rock look ridiculous.

"It was the album that made hard rock obsolete -- the rock that was popular at the time: superficial, misogynistic, less intense," Charlotte Blum, author of a recent book about the grunge movement, told AFP.

Reluctant ambition

Cobain was ambitious, his diaries filled with intricate plans, ruthlessly firing drummers until they found the perfect fit in Dave Grohl (now of the Foo Fighters).

But the quadruple-platinum success of "Nevermind" was a nightmare for his punk-rock ethics.

He was traumatised at the idea that "yuppie scum in BMWs" were listening to Nevermind, and disowned its glossy production.

"I haven't listened to it since we put it out. I can't stand that kind of production," he told biographer Michael Azerrad.




Producer Butch Vig pointed out that Cobain had no problems with it in the studio: "If it had only sold 50,000 copies, he probably wouldn't have had any comments on whether it was too slick."

It ended in tragedy. Cobain's suicide note was a long screed about the torment of "selling out".

But it was Cobain's monomaniacal dedication to the punk cause that gave Nevermind such a ring of authenticity.

Ferocious nursery rhymes

From the immediately catchy riffs of "Come As You Are" and "Lithium" to the quieter anthems of "Polly" and "Something in the Way", the sound was often furious, but the melodies simple -- "like nursery rhymes", Cobain said.

It was down to the fact that Cobain loved not just underground hardcore bands but also The Beatles, Abba and Queen.

This combined with the raw power of Cobain's voice which somehow encapsulated both joyous abandon and tortured adolescence.

Jay-Z said Nevermind was so successful at this that it stalled the rise of hip-hop.

"'Hair bands' dominated the airwaves and rock became more about looks than actual substance and what it stood for: the rebellious spirit of youth," he told Pharrell Williams in his autobiography.

"That's why 'Teen Spirit' rang so loud because it was right on point with how everyone felt.

"Hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second... when Kurt Cobain came with that statement it was like, 'We got to wait awhile.'"

Apathetic activist

Crucial to the cult around Cobain was his anti-macho politics.

"If you're sexist, racist, a homophobe, or basically an asshole, don't buy this CD. I don't care if you like me, I hate you," he said.

But while Cobain expressed disgust at the apathy of his generation, he also seemed to encapsulate an era marked by the end of the Cold War when political ideologies were dead and it was hard to know where to direct your youthful ennui.

In the end, he chose not activism, but a retreat from stardom, descent into drugs and ultimately suicide.

As the song says -- perhaps in mockery, perhaps in exhausted dejection -- "Oh well, whatever, nevermind."


© Agence France-Presse










Today's News

September 21, 2021

Monet masterpiece travels to The McNay for new exhibition

Gagosian presents a never-before-seen body of work by Tatiana Trouvé

With 91 works by 72 artists, exhibition reevaluates the art historical legacy after World War II

Exhibition at Bruce Silverstein features seventy-five works by M.C. Escher

Carlos Bunga examines the mysteries of the relationship between body and mind in new exhibition

Hindman Auctions to present American Furniture, Folk and Decorative Arts Auction

'Art is dying': Afghan artists hope to resist Taliban rule

2021 RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist announced

Two-person exhibition features works by Ester Partegàs and Claire Watson

Brueghel, Belotto and Guardi headline Koller's autumn Old Master Paintings auctions

How old is this old house?

Exhibition proposes a new view of ink art for the contemporary era

Cairo's antique elevators, glorious and glitchy, are scenes of love and fear

Atlas Gallery exhibits works photographed by Nick Brandt during the global pandemic in late 2020

Nirvana's Nevermind: An album forged by contradictions

A giant violin floats down Venice's Grand Canal

A cabaret star and an opera star walk onto a stage...

Hand and footprint art dates to mid-Ice Age

Dix Noonan Webb sell H.R.H. Princess Margaret's Art Deco bracelet for £396,800

University Press of Kentucky publishes 'The Watercolors of Harlan Hubbard'

University Auctions to offer autographs and art from Van Gogh to Hendrix

Park Avenue Armory appoints Tavia Nyong'o Curator of Public Programming

Baltimore Museum of Art receives $150,000 grant to launch community-focused research initiative

Hale Woodruff & mid-century abstraction lead African American art at Swann

BEST WHATSAPP MODS APK APPS

Best Online Casino in Singapore - UWIN33

Do you know where to start home improvement?

How To Choose The Right String Quartet For Your Next Function?

Top 5 Benefits Of Corporate Video Marketing




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful