Best grunge band: Nirvana or Pearl Jam? | The Tylt
Best grunge band: Nirvana or Pearl Jam?
Grunge also referred to the Seattle Sound rose to mainstream prominence thanks to Nirvana and Pearl Jam's popular breakout 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.
I headed to Wikipedia and Billboard.com 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.
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.