1991 was an interesting year in music.
For about a decade, a very electric and indulgent type of rock music had been one of the most popular genres in the world. Acts like Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue and others were at the top of the world.
In fact, on September 17th, 1991, Guns N Roses released their double disc set Use Your Illusions, which sold 1.3 million combined copies in the first week. It was a huge moment in rock music and perhaps marked the end of an era or changing of guards in popular music.
The very next week, Nirvana released album, Nevermind, and music would never be the same.
The Kurt Cobain Effect
Nirvana and Kurt Cobain were the anti-Guns N Roses.
GNR was out there to make self-indulgent rock music that was big in production and ambition. It was about living the rock and roll lifestyle made famous by the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith. Tons of bands in the ’80s were living out their dreams of rock stardom and Nirvana kind of came in and flipped that idea of its head.
Once Kurt Cobain hit it was no longer cool to be so indulgent about life.
Generation X latched on to Kurt, his music and his message. I won’t claim to really know what his message was. It seemed like he just had this hatred inside him that fueled his creativity. He was different and he embraced his feelings toward the world and wrapped it in music that was something an entire generation connected with and loved.
Changes In Music
There aren’t that many cases in modern music where things changed so quickly.
Sure, rock music from the ’80s did pretty well into 1992, but things changed pretty quickly. Nevermind overtook Michael Jackson’s Dangerous in 1992 and music changed. Grunge and alt-rock became the big genres of the ’90s until the boy band era came in late in the decade.
Feel good rockers of the late ’80s came to really dislike Cobain and what he stood for. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with wanting to have a good time. And there probably wasn’t, but sometimes when things get so big there is backlash in the complete opposite direction.
Change Coming In Country Music?
I think we’re at a similar place in country music compared to rock music in the late ’80s.
Things are really self-indulgent, but there are a lot of references to tailgates, friday nights, beer, jacked up trucks and similar images. When things get going too far in one direction, as just mentioned, we tend to get some backlash and things can move in the entirely opposite direction.
Is there a Kurt Cobain coming up in the underbelly of country music?
There might be someone out there that is feeling despair and rejection from the mainstream world. They probably have something to express and there are probably millions feeling the same thing.
That’s what it might take for things to change in country. It’s happened before. There have been times when country music has gotten real slick and people have come in with a completely different sound to change things around. I think of folks like George Strait and Randy Travis in the ’80s that kind of ushered in big time change in country music.
This time I think things will get more dark. For some reason I think there is a country version of Kurt Cobain on the way.
I think we’re getting a little taste of it with Kacey Musgraves and we’ll get more in the future.
What do you think?