Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Music, Teenagers, Literature, Society, Genre, Influence, Youth, Teen

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2021/03/02

Musical genres -- especially during the last better part of a century or so -- have always had an enormous influence on society. It can also be stated reciprocally: that society has had a tremendous impact on the creation and evolution of musical genres such as country western, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock and roll, rockabilly, soul, funk, heavy metal, disco, new wave, and punk -- not to mention others. Arguably, grunge music had a huge, but short-lived impact on society not only in terms of its entertainment value, but grunge was the musical by-product of a generation that refused to accept traditional values and social mores imposed upon them -- much in the same vein as other musical genres that pre-dated the grunge sound.
Grunge did not appear simultaneously in several cities, nor did its inspiration occur on one continent and migrate to another. Grunge can easily be isolated to one secondary city, Seattle -- hardly New York or Los Angeles, the more traditional routes to commercial success (Clark, n.d., internet). While the word "grunge" did not get tagged to Neil Young and Crazy Horse's sound -- melodic and heavy on the distortion -- he is unofficially revered as its pioneer. "After Neil Young played live a few times with Pearl Jam and recorded the album Mirror Ball with them, some members of the media gave Young the title 'Godfather of Grunge' " (, 2014, internet). However, it was not until 1981 when the term was first coined, by Mudhoney frontman Mark Arm.
Soon, all eyes would be on Seattle, as other bands would relocate to the Pacific Northwest metropolis (many of them merely imitators), radio and video play soared, and success for many bands -- even bands from outside of Seattle such as Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, and a number of others -- meant a ticket to fame and riches. Bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam hit their stride in the early 90s (Clark, internet). The media descended upon Seattle, adding even more hype to a new musical genre that was on the cusp of over-commercialization, and global influence that no one could have foreseen. With the advent of "alternative music", the early 90s were an especially good time for grunge -- the genre, its music, and its merchandise.
After the suicide of Nirvana's lead singer, Kurt Cobain, things settled down -- in Seattle and elsewhere. Grunge insiders were both shocked and saddened. Soon, sadness turned to anger and despair. Outsiders were in a state of disbelief, but fans everywhere mourned the loss of the man who penned and sang Smells Like Teen Spirit with youthful, reckless abandon. Cobain was only 27 years old when he injected a lethal dose of heroin, and subsequently blowing his brains out with a shotgun. Cobain's music -- especially since he is not around to make it anymore -- is the best benchmark to use in measuring the legacy of grunge, and its influence on society.
After 1994 (when Cobain killed himself), grunge did not disappear, or fade away entirely. As Neil Young once sang: "My my hey hey, Rock 'n' roll is here to stay It's better to burn out Than to fade away". Ironically, Cobain quoted the song in his suicide note. Indeed, grunge had seen its heyday, and its demise was near. Cobain's suicide represented the proverbial nail in the coffin of a much-imitated musical genre that had lost sight of its roots -- rebellion and anarchy, but produced in an MTV-friendly way.
Grunge has left an indelible stamp on the world of music, but probably not in the way most of its pioneers would have wished. For example, teen pop star Miley Cyrus -- who was not even born when Cobain was alive -- began singing Teen Spirit in her live performances, in 2011 (Makagon, 2011, internet). "The contradicting image of a teen pop princess singing a song that many believe was written against everything she represents angered Nirvana fans". Indeed, her tribute to Nirvana may have angered its lingering fan base, but, although a commercial cash register, Cyrus carried the torch of grunge, and in her own (perhaps exploitative) way, kept its legacy alive. Ironically, the original -- sung by Cobain -- may have been more commercially successful than any of Cyrus's work.
However, as time passes, grunge is slowly being forgotten. Its laissez-faire musical approach, rebellious attitude, and its fashion sense (mainly flannels and torn jeans) have been relegated to history, or half-heartedly imitated by younger, newer successors such as Creed, Silverchair, and a legion of others. In addition, Mr Makagon [the 21-year-old d.j. who introduced Nirvana's seminal song to the radio world] has noticed the impact from the grunge revolution lessen as each successive class of kids comes into his lecture room knowing a little less about underground music than the year before" (Makagon, 2011, internet).
As the millennials mature, questioning authority, and rebellion against the musical establishment are virtues that are being slowly forgotten. Most contemporary performers, i.e. post-grunge era, want commercial success, as it stands for fame and riches. Seemingly, most contemporary performers want an invitation to the Grammys or want an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood by the producers of American Idol. The times have changed, and naturally, the trajectory of grunge has changed along with the times. For all intents and purposes, grunge died the day Cobain committed suicide.
Its influence was only temporary, as the genre's frightening momentum gathered steam, and eventually exhausted itself. Whether grunge could have gone on forever is a moot point, because it is now only a shadow of its original self, and Nirvana tribute bands are already putting together their own shows. Nonetheless, grunge influenced a generation of disaffected youth, but saying that the grunge genre is actively influencing society is like saying that Elvis Tribute Artists are equally influencing the values of our society. While this may be true for diehard fans (and mortality has a way of shrinking any genre's fan base), society-at-large is only feeling a negligible influence -- if any at all -- of grunge's by-gone era.
A decade from now, or a quarter-century from now, future generations will not only care less about the genius and sadness of a Cobain, or the vocal range of a Cornell (Soundgarden's lead vocalist), but, unless musicologists devote study time to this dynamic era, it will be all but forgotten. Sadly, the success of grunge music was its own undoing. As it became more and more popular, and the profits became more lucrative, it lost its youthful naivete and originiality. In short, grunge went from garage to boardroom in only a matter of a decade -- or less. Thus, grunge has left its legacy, but only a handful are around to remember Nirvana or the original Pearl Jam, and highly-commercial acts such as Miley Cyrus cash in on their tribute "efforts". Indeed, grunge influenced society, and vice versa, but the influence burned out as quickly as it was lit, but for a few short years, it was a force to be reckoned with, as it turned the world upside down, forcing an entire culture to examine its values and social mores via music. Sadly, grunge's long-term influence is doubtful, and future generations will be more clueless than the present ones with regards to the genre's incendiary magic.

Works Cited

Clark, Heather. (n.d.). "Grunge: Cultural Phenomenon." Retrieved on 17 Apr 2015 from
Grunge Music. (2007). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 17 Apr 2015 from
Makagon, Daniel. (26 Aug, 2011). "Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit: how an Era-Defining Moment was Sold Short." Retrieved on 17 Apr 2015 from chords-three-verses-a-lasting-legacy/story-e6frfn09-1226122341753

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2021, March, 02) Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society. Retrieved March 02, 2024, from
"Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society." WePapers, 02 Mar. 2021, Accessed 02 March 2024.
WePapers. 2021. Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society., viewed March 02 2024, <>
WePapers. Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society. [Internet]. March 2021. [Accessed March 02, 2024]. Available from:
"Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society." WePapers, Mar 02, 2021. Accessed March 02, 2024.
WePapers. 2021. "Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved March 02, 2024. (
"Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society," Free Essay Examples -, 02-Mar-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 02-Mar-2024].
Good Research Paper About The Impact Of Grunge On Society. Free Essay Examples - Published Mar 02, 2021. Accessed March 02, 2024.

Share with friends using:

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now