They are grunge.
Earlier this year, the 20th anniversary of the release of Nevermind took me back to the days when I was a confused and angst ridden teenage girl, struggling to find my place in the world, completely enamored with the idea that it was okay to feel like you didn't really fit in anywhere.
I'd rather be dead than cool. ~Kurt Cobain
They told us that it was okay to be pissed off and tell other people about it. That there was nothing wrong with being an outcast or strange or weird. That fitting in wasn't nearly as important as being comfortable in your own skin.
Oh well. Whatever. Nevermind.
Nirvana brought grunge rock to the forefront. They were the consummate garage band, giving hope to all the kids I grew up with strumming guitars and playing drums loud enough to piss off the neighbors.
They were the voice of a generation of kids like me.
And they didn't fit in at all. The number one hit in 1992 was a Boyz II Men song, number two was Baby Got Back by Sir Mix a Lot. Billy Ray made it big with Achy Breaky Heart. The music scene wasn't prepared for what Nirvana served....but the fans ate it up and demanded more.
I remember how I begged my parents to let me get the uncensored version of the cassette tape, and played it over and over and over again. I started to abandon the posters of hair bands that, up until that point, had dominated my walls. I didn't put up posters of Nirvana, because to do that would go against everything they stood for.
You didn't simply sing along to their songs, you built an inner rage that bubbled to the surface.
When Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, it wasn't a shock so much as a disappointment. He was so clearly a conflicted soul, forced into the spotlight in a hurry, enticed by the drugs and booze that come with fame. His death was a tremendous loss to the music world, no one will argue that.
Dave Grohl, the drummer for Nirvana at the end, disappeared from the spotlight for while after Kurt's death. He would eventually go on to form Foo Fighters, a band still together and selling out arenas today. Krist Novoselic, the bassist, has had a less remarkable career, but is still at it.
Kurt though, he was all about the words and the message they conveyed. The effect of those words and simple guitar riffs will live forever.