This is take from a review of neo-grunge band Violent Soho
. But writer René Schaeffer prefaces it with an examination of whether grunge is still relevant:
Like punk, the epithet grunge means a lot of things to a lot of different people. For many who came of age during grunge’s first flowering in the early ’90s, listening to Nirvana’s bastard offspring now is a bitter-sweet experience. Any sense of nostalgia is quickly subsumed by an immense disappointment at grunge’s failure to live up to its initial promise: to blast the cobwebs off a moribund pop culture.
In hindsight, it’s clear that a musical movement built on apathy, cynicism and pulling bongs could never truly change anything. Grunge lacked clear messages or politics and was ripe for exploitation by a music industry hungry for a last wad of cash before the looming digital apocalypse.
We've heard this story before, of course, and it's repeated every decade: The hippies didn't change the world. The punks didn't change the world. Rap didn't change the world. Grunge didn't change the world.
And it's true: rock and roll didn't change the world.
And it's false: because rock did
change the world. Not all of it. But pieces. We owe the modern environmental movement to the hippies. We owe the hatred of selling out to the punks. Grunge was never a political movement. It was personal
. It provided comfort to people who didn't fit in. And yes, it got commercialised and mass marketed and stripped of its balls.
But pop music isn't as simple as that. Because even the cheesiest mainstream pop hit can sound dangerous and seditious to someone. And maybe they'll follow that feeling, and discover the harder stuff, the purer shit. And maybe they'll lose interest, or get trapped in the dead ends of rock nostalgia or record snobbery. But maybe they'll uncover the passion and the drive and anger that animates this music. Maybe it will make their lives richer and deeper and more real. And maybe they'll think "right, how can I apply this feeling to the rest of the world?"
I don't know. Maybe I'm both hopelessly naive and hopelessly romantic about this.
But I think that saying "musical genre X never changed the world" is cheap and lazy cynicism. What were people expecting? A Great Deluge that wipes the Earth clean of the sinners and the unbelievers? Rock just doesn't work that way. Rock and roll is more like a seasonal rain nourishing the desert so that strange flowers may bloom.
The world is different, because the world is always changing. A buttefly flaps its wings in Brazil, guitar strings vibrate in Seattle, and lives change in Australia.