Today marks the 25th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, so the radio is filled with non-stop song from Nevermind and social media is buzzing with Nirvana talk
I figured today is as good a day as any to get something off my chest that has been there for a while now. I almost hate to say it, but Nirvana is overrated, and if Kurt Cobain didn’t die in such dramatic fashion, they wouldn’t be considered the rock legends that they are ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It felt great to finally say it out loud, but now I’m scared that an army of flannel shirt-wearing Nirvana fans will descend on my house with pitchforks and torches. Before you guys drag me through the streets Black Hawk Down style, at least hear me out for a second and let me explain what I mean
First of all, I like Nirvana. I think they were a good band, I don’t think Seattle would have had quite the same stranglehold on music that it did without them, and therefore I respect what they did for alternative rock as a whole
See? This isn’t just a blog blindly shitting on Nirvana for no reason. All that being said, Nirvana is still overrated. It’s important to realize that something can still be good and overrated at the same time. Chipotle is good, but it’s overrated. ANOTHER EXAMPLE. So in similar fashion, Nirvana is good, but they’re overrated.
So are they are they overrated exactly? Let me plain. Whether you’re talking with your friends, some people at work, or it’s some magazine or website that’s doing a list of the best bands, Nirvana always ends up way too far near the top, and this is coming from somebody that loves grunge
I guess let’s start with Kurt. Kurt Cobain is always talked about as this legendary musician who changed music forever, when in reality he was just an average guitar player that made a few good songs and had a bad heroin problem, and those types of people were a dime a dozen in the 90’s Seattle music scene. The only reason why Kurt Cobain is put ahead of and remembered as more of a legend than other grunge front men is that he blew his head off. If he never killed himself, Nirvana would have slowly faded away from popularity within 5-10 years. In fact, I think a part of him knew this and it’s why he killed himself. In his suicide note, he said “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”, which is a line from Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey”. Kurt knew the fame wouldn’t last forever, and that it would be better for him to go out on top, Seinfeld style. So, he grabbed his gun and quite literally went out with a bang
Now I already said that I do like Nirvana, but if you can’t also critique things that you like, what’s the point? Let’s break down 99% of Nirvana songs. Mostly basic guitar chords combined with mumbled lyrics and an overall “We should pawn the TV for heroin money” vibe. I mean for fucks sake, in the song “Heart Shaped Box”, Kurt literally says “I wish I could eat your cancer”. What dude? I know that probably made sense when you had that needle in your arm and were nodding off on a bus, but cancer doesn’t sound too appetizing to regular people.
Also I hate to be nitpicky and a tattle tale, but Kurt Cobain was also a huge liar. In the song “Come As You Are”, he repeatedly insists, “No I don’t have a gun”, when I’m pretty sure he did have a gun. It’s kinda hard to shoot yourself in the head if you don’t have a gun, but what do I know?
Full disclosure, I also need to acknowledge that I do have a biased opinion when it comes to this subject because, to me, the real king of the Seattle grunge scene died on the same day, April 5th, but 9 years after Cobain. I’m talking about Layne Staley, lead singer of Alice in Chains. Layne not only had a way better voice than Kurt and sang about things way more thought provoking than Nirvana ever did, but he also died from a drug overdose like a real musician
So to sum things up here, I think Nirvana is a good band, but I also think the pedestal that a lot of people put them on is way too high. To me, Nirvana is sort of like Chipotle: It’s fine, I enjoy it, but let’s not get carried away here. You all know it’s true, so don’t burn me at the stake for saying facts. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that feel the same way but were too nervous to admit it
And while I’m on the topic of saying things people are too scared to admit, I’ve got one more for you: Weird Al’s version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is way better