The Daily Mail Reviews: Nirvana

At the end of August (for some reason I only saw this today) Paul Connolly decided to review the legacy created by Nirvana – to mark the 20 year anniversary of the release of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Here is what he had to say:

Let’s get this straight – Nirvana were glorified one-hit wonders. Smells Like Teen Spirit was a freak, albeit a wondrous, magical one. They only wrote two more decent songs – Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle (from In Utero) and Oh, The Guilt (a limited edition split single with Jesus Lizard).

Don’t worry, like many of you, I had my head turned by the hyperbole. But now we can be dispassionate and admit Nirvana were not only not much cop but their influence on pop has been mainly pernicious…

So why was Nevermind so huge? Simple. The turn of the Eighties/Nineties was such a wretched time for music that a song as good as Teen Spirit, and a man as pretty and beset by demons as Cobain, were assured of attention and adoration. It’s just a shame that many of those devotees decided to form bands and adhere utterly to Cobain’s “poor me” blueprint.

You can blame all those wretched “emo” bands on Nirvana. There are armies of kids who believe that a guitar and a persecution complex makes them an artist. Well, they’re wrong.

Ten million miserable black-clad kids – that is the extent of Nirvana’s pitiful legacy.

Something isn’t quite right in the world when an occasional and dire blogger on the Daily Mail website feels in a position to criticise the legacy created by what is generally accepted as one of the most influential albums of the last 50 years.

12 thoughts on “The Daily Mail Reviews: Nirvana”

  1. HOW DARE HE!!??
    What the fucking hell is he talking about? Frances Farmer will have her revenge on seattle was the only other decent song? IT WAS ONE OF THE SHITTEST! Heart shaped box, come as you are, in bloom, all apologies etc. etc. All those are crap eh? What a complete and utter knob.

  2. Unable to distinguish between “Emo” and other musical genre’s Paul Connolly has made the traditional Daily Mail prejudicial assumptions.
    Wearing Black? Must be an Emo.

    Emo is a musical genre that established itself in the 21st century and is barely 10 years old having indie-punk roots; musically the genre is more closely associated with bands like MUSE.

    Nirvana is a Grunge bank with a very different set of influences. And oddly the man seems to have forgotten that the reason Nirvana ended so abruptly was because of Kurt Cobain’s death, a tragic moment that meant that the project could not go on. Nirvana influenced so much of today’s music that criticising the bands legacy in this way is just insulting.

    Connolly seems to have further forgotten that Dave Grohl from Nirvana has gone onto Foo Fighters, one of the most popular bands from the last ten years.

    Novoselic meanwhile has been a columnist in America over the last few years.

    Perhaps Connolly would like to read Novoselic’s Column for some pointers

  3. meh. you’re just picking on a DM person for the sake of it here.

    anyone who wants to slag off a band/scene/musical legacy is entitled to do so. music is art, it is profoundly subjective. people who don’t like nirvana (and/or their legacy) will read the blog and nod in agreement, people who do like them will read it and ignore it. we’ve all seen people writing bad things about the music we love.

    the guy has obviously heard nirvana, so he can have his view about them. i don’t know how much he knows about the ‘scene’ that followed, but he’s not wrong. albeit.. he fails to point out that every successful band seems to spawn a whole heap of pale imitations in ever decreasing circles of shiteness.

    in truth, nirvana (largely thanks to *that song*) captured a generation, and then kurt offed himself before they had the chance to turn to shit and/or vanish up their own arseholes. the shotgun did more for their legacy than their music.. and i think that pisses people off.

  4. Not sure what the issue is here. Opinionated man paid to express opinions expresses an opinion?

    Fair enough. He’s not made anything up or misrepresented anything particularly important. He just expressed an opinion with which you seem to disagree. I’m no Nirvana devotee myself, so I wouldn’t bother expressing an opinion either way, but since music is such a subjective area in which to express like or dislike, I can’t help feeling that your phrase “generally accepted as one of the most influential albums of the last 50 years” seems to smell like special pleading.

    I don’t really see the point of drawing attention to it, unless you want us to believe that there is a canonical view of Nirvana and Cobain with which it is considered bad journalism to disagree. I hope not.

  5. I think he’s in exactly the position to criticise Nirvana, if that’s his view. Not that I think his writing’s any good or particularly agree with him, but if someone has a music column I’d rather read what they think than a potted version of the “correct” opinions. What would be the point of that? It’s not like Littlejohn giving his idiotic views on the latest badly researched and made-up rubbish, music is subjective.

    Anyway, Nirvana’s greatness IS slightly overblown…

  6. @Alan, Emo is nothing to do with Muse, if you’re going to be all furious about genre classifications you should probably know what you’re talking about yourself.

  7. It is fine to hold an opinion on Nirvana. However, a) his assumption that the music scene at the time was terrible is a dodgy assumption. How about the whole alternative rock scene (he mentions Jesus Lizard but as a mere side detail). Pixies, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Black Flag, Jesus and Mary Chain etc. etc. House music and Jungle were getting big in the late 80’s early 90’s. So trying to say that Nirvana appeared in a devalued market is off the mark.

    And to blame them for their legacy, even is it their legacy? Has the man not heard of Goth, which might have had some effect on Emo maybe? This seems churlish. Any of your favourite bands could be responsible for loads of shit. Judge Nirvana on their merits and not on the merits of other bands that claim Nirvana influenced them.

    And yes their legacy is probably increased by Kurts death, but so were many other bands. Are you saying noone would give a shit about Jimi Hendrix any more if he was still alive?

  8. Nevermind was a great album, but was simply the next inevitable stage after Appetite for Destruction and Metallica’s Black album finished off the hair metal decade, by consisting of 12 belters each of sheer power and brilliance, showing up how tired Poison, Crue, Ratt, Leppard etc had become. Nirvna were the Joy Division to the Pistols/Clash of GNR/Metallica. Oh God, what a crap anaolgy…

  9. If only he’d bothered listening to the lyrics of my favourite Nirvana Song:

    He’s the one who likes all our pretty songs And he likes to sing along and he likes to shoot his gun But he knows not what it means, Knows not what it means and I say…

    To think that man is actually paid to write about music makes me chuckle.

  10. I’m a bit confused because I’m sure I read this article in the Guardian. I remember it because I am a Nirvana fan and disagreed with it. However becuase I’m not 16 any more I didn’t get upset or annoyed. Boy, the upset and annoyance I felt when, aged 16, the Bowie backlash began…

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