Info for Students » Uncategorized

Nirvana is still capturing teens’ spirit

If my generation had a soundtrack, it would be hard to pick the playlist. When I really think about it, there are so many hits and genre-bending songs that have come out in the past three decades. We’re talking music by De La Soul, Weezer, Snoop Dogg, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nas and the like. There are a lot of contenders. But there is one song I believe all of us would pick. Whether you like hip-hop, rock, pop, punk or everything in between, if you were lost in your adolescence in the ’90s, I think Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” would be a must-have. I was 12 years old when I first saw the video. Nirvana was rocking out in this dark, murky high school gymnasium. The students sat in the bleachers, and the cheerleaders wore uniforms adorned with anarchy symbols. It started off sort of as a slow and awkward tickle. Then it built up and sort of overcame me. By the time the kids in the video started banging their heads, I was singing along: “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.” I’ve been singing along ever since. Today, the album “Nevermind” is 20 years old. It’s hard to believe that it’s been two decades since Kurt Cobain and Nirvana changed music with an album or three. Still, it starts with that song about teen spirit. It changed music, not just with its catchy hook and poetic lyrics, no. It introduced us to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain — arguably the Beatles of our generation. Cobain, with his raspy voice that cut straight to your soul, ushered in not just grunge but a sort of middle finger to the mainstream. He brought honesty to music at a time when things were obnoxiously corporate. Nirvana made music that represented everyday youth — whether you were a 12-year-old or a twentysomething. DJ Ataxic, 33, one of Kansas City’s premier DJs, said the music was so groundbreaking because of the band’s unwillingness to conform to a certain image. Nirvana looked like skater boys, people you could walk up and talk to, no flashiness. No smoke and mirrors. “They gave the average guy an identity,” Ataxic says. “No longer did you have to look or sound a certain way to be a rock star.” He says it’s because of this, that no matter what kind of music you like, Nirvana fits into your catalog. It’s also why the band’s music doesn’t age. Sure, today the album turns 20, but younger generations are still discovering Nirvana and falling in love with the music. The l4-year-old I mentor wasn’t even alive when Cobain tragically committed suicide in 1994. But she was introduced to the band by her father years ago. The first thing she thought when she heard “Nevermind”? “This is rock ’n’ roll,” she said. She doodles pictures of Cobain and considers his music inspiring. When I look at her, it’s apparent that Nirvana didn’t just make music for the youth of my generation. They made music that defines youth in general — the feelings of rebellion, being an outcast and uncut energy. It makes me smile. Because as Cobain sang some 20 years ago in the song that started it all: “Our little group has always been. And always will until the end.”

Comments are closed.