Best grunge band: Nirvana or Pearl Jam?
via AP

Best grunge band: Nirvana or Pearl Jam?

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Nirvana and Pearl Jam are arguably the most well-known pioneers of the grunge movement. Pearl Jam's debut album, "Ten," actually came out right before Nirvana's breakthrough sophomore effort "Nevermind." "Ten" took on darker issues, like school shootings in "Jeremy." And to this day, music critics often argue Pearl Jam is the most influential grunge band. Still—Nirvana became an iconic band with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," an anthem for teen angst. And Kurt Cobain remains a beloved artist. Which grunge band is the best? 🎸


Grunge also referred to the Seattle Sound rose to mainstream prominence thanks to Nirvana and Pearl Jam's popular debut albums. Soundgarden and Alice in Chains are also pioneers, but Nirvana and Pearl Jam broke grunge into the mainstream. Naturally, the two bands have been pitted up against each other, but who's honestly the best grunge band?

Loudwire ranks Nirvana as the top grunge band of all time. 

Chad Childers wrote:

It’s hard to argue against Nirvana as the No. 1 act of our 10 Best Grunge Bands list, as they essentially put the genre on the map with their 1991 classic, ‘Nevermind.’ But things didn’t stop with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ as ‘Come As You Are,’ ‘Lithium’ and their ‘In Utero’ favorites ‘Heart Shaped Box’ and ‘Rape Me’ are as good as they come in the grunge world.

Unfortunately, popular lead singer Kurt Cobain died in 1994. Many consider Cobain a hero of the grunge movement and rock music in general. To this day, Nirvana's second studio album is an all-time best-seller. Just look at Billboard's top 200 albums chart. 

Grungy lyrics to arguably the most popular song of the genre—"Smells Like Teen Spirit": 

Load up on guns, bring your friends
It's fun to lose and to pretend
She's overboard and self-assured
Oh no I know, a dirty word
With the lights out it's less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto, an Albino
A mosquito, my libido, yeah

Not everyone is on Nirvana's bandwagon as the most influential or greatest grunge band. Pearl Jam holds greater significance for many music critics, though Nirvana had a more popular following in the '90s. Still—Pearl Jam also sold records and had a lasting impact on both grunge and rock.

Vice'Brendan Kelly wrote: 

I headed to Wikipedia and to lazily conduct what passes for research in 2015, sure that the numbers would back up my bullshit gut reaction: that Pearl Jam is the band that really wielded the influence, and were it not for the tragic and poetic death of Kurt Cobain (and subsequent mythologizing and conspiracy theories), that Pearl Jam would now be seen as the band that ousted hair metal and forever changed radio, whereas Nirvana would be seen (rightly) as a vastly cooler, but significantly less culturally important act. wrote: 

Chuck Klosterman makes a great point about Pearl Jam in his book Killing Yourself to Live: "Pearl Jam was seen as the people's band; Nirvana was seen as the band that hated its own people." And that's really the best distillation of the difference between those two bands, and why Pearl Jam, despite not having the cult of personality that Nirvana does, is ultimately a better band.

Grungy lyrics to PJ's big breakthrough single "Jeremy":

At home drawin' pictures of mountain tops
With him on top, lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a "v"
And the dead lay in pools of maroon below
Daddy didn't give attention
To the fact that mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Nirvana Family argues the band are grunge's GOAT.

PJ Fam says the band is the real pioneer of grunge.

Watch the music video for Nirvana's legendary hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" below.

Watch the music video for "Come As You Are" below.

Watch the music video for Pearl Jam's iconic "Jeremy" below. 

Watch the music video for "Even Flow" below. 


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