SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE
The mundane everyday birth of grunge.
By Ryann Funk - August 2019
Flannels and distorted electric guitars and lyrics filled with angst -- oh my!
While the music scenes of Los Angeles and New York were at the forefront of the industry in the mid-1980s, there was something brewing in the upper left corner of the country (and not just a fresh cup of coffee). Grunge was the infamous sound of Seattle, heavily influenced by the underground music scene in the city, the culture of its college communities and the workings of Seattle’s own independent record label, Sub Pop Records. Pioneers of the genre were The U-Men, a Seattle-based rock group in the 1980s whose outside the box humor and distinct sound would set the stage for bands to come out of the area in the coming years.
The birth of the grunge sound is really just one big formula:
Punk Rock + Heavy Metal + Indie Rock = Grunge
While taking influences from these genres such as the presence of the distorted electric guitar and angsty lyrics, the grunge sound was deeper, darker, and more ‘sludgy’ than its predecessors. The vibe was always heavy, almost lethargic at times.
Among the most notorious bands associated with the genre and bringing it into the mainstream are Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and of course, Nirvana.
The genre of grunge lost its prominence near the end of the century due to the disassembling of many prominent bands and the untimely death of Nirvana front-man and grunge ‘poster-child’, Kurt Cobain. Though with its decline in prominence, the genre was heavily influential for the creations of sub-genres such as ‘post-grunge’ and ‘nu-metal’.
Grunge Essentials Playlist by Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX11ghcIxjcjE?si=Na23OEqpQ2yqdA-i2ycMWA
Written for the NYU x Billboard Music Industry Essentials certificate program.