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coverpic flag US - Washington - Full Moon 184 - 09/12/11

Speakers' corner: NIRVANA

Following up our retro scope series of 2006 and 2007, 2009 and 2010 - here's the ever-continuing, never-stopping New Speakers' corner! Luna Kafé's focused eye on great events, fantastic happenings, absolute milestones, or other curious incidents from the historic shelves/vaults of rock. This moonth we're diving 20 years back in time, hitting one of the most mind-blowing and powerful albums of popular rock music. It's a landmark of an era. Created by a bunch even wilder as last moonth's headlight band, The Who. Both bands knew how to smash their gear, and both bands knew how to shake their generation. And, of course, they knew how to Entertain us.



On September 10th, 1991 "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was released. Two weeks later, on September 24th, 1991 Nevermind followed. And the world of popular music changed. Sort of. Imagine if Nevermind never happened.

Imagine if Nevermind had never happened. Or if it hadn't been as good as it was (still is)? Or - despite its 24 carat qualities - if it hadn't attracted such a huge audience? Imagine if the whole phenomenon hadn't happen. What if Cobain and Nirvana hadn't done the magic they did, what if Cobain hadn't written "Smells Like Teen Spirit" or any of the other great songs? Well, I'd guess a lot of horrible rock bands wouldn't have been signed to major labels. But, mainly, this album introduced a massive mainstream audience to rather rough and alternative rock music. Rock music with pop tones and some extremely catchy hooks, for sure, but nevertheless a monstrous rock album with fuzz and distortion (even though producer Butch Vig had somehow made it eatable for the masses). Nirvana and Nevermind took the world by storm, becoming the surprise hit album of the year, of the year after, and for years to come -- commercially. Maybe the biggest of all time. When I listen to Nevermind now, I can't imagine; what did the huge mainstream audience think of it when buying it? What did they hear? Did they play the entire album, did they listen to all the songs? If so, did they like what they heard? Nevermind sold in millions of copies, further tens of millions. Much thanks to its smashing first single "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nevermind spiralled its way to the top. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was so brilliantly cool, rough and catchy, it's the perfect pop song in rock clothes. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a direct hit, a bull's eye, aiming for your feet, your stomach, your heart and your head -- to smash and blow up everything on its way. Becoming the ultimate party lifter, with its riff which has become one of the classic ones in the history of rock music, it washed and waved through 1991. And 1992, and on, to become one of those legendary songs. In early 1992 Nevermind knocked Michael Jackson off the top of the US Billboard chart list. Still, quite bizarre to all of a sudden find a hairy, dirty, six-podded rock monster selling records in as high numbers as the Bryan Adams', the Mariah Careys, the Whitney Houstons, the Garth Brooks' of the world.

Nevermind did happen, and it shot Cobain and his band to superstardom and beyond. We all know what happened next. The fatal end of Cobain made him (and his band) another icon in the world of rock'n'roll. Especially for the youth that adores it. Rebel. Good looking. Cool guy. But also songwriter and artist extraordinaire. Shame about the bad habits. Nirvana's short lifespan was intense and landed 2 great and 1 outstanding albums. Nevermind is one of the best rock albums ever made. Ask me, ask a lot of people. Young and old. And the young keep coming. Just notice all the young kids wearing Nirvana hoods and t-shirts. The youngest weren't even born in the 90s.

One of the bands being a favourite of and an inspiration to Cobain was the Pixies. One peculiar final note: the day before Nevermind was released Pixies put out their swansong album, Trompe le monde. Fool the world. Nevermind didn't fool the world; it took it by storm - and by surprise.

Copyright © 2011 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Nirvana articles/reviews: Bleach, Nirvana.

© 2011 Luna Kafé