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What makes Kurt Cobain sooo great?

Vincent Vega

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Seriously. I like Nirvana casually and they were a good band, I'm not taking anything from them as a band and I enjoy them, but people act like Cobain was some perfect holy messiah, the very definition of artist, who died tragically....When reality the guy was a heroin addled guy who wrote random lyrics, ripped the riff of one of his bigger hits, tried to peddle his music as being the same as a band he hated just to get people's attention and tried to push enforced political correctness on pop culture, who chose to take his life. It wasn't like he died in a tragic accident or an accidental overdose or was murdered, so its not really a tragedy, the world wasn't robbed of him as he chose to leave it voluntarily, but a daughter was robbed of a father because her father was self centered....

IMO, Kurt was practically the original latte sipping ultra liberal hipster. He supposedly hated fame, but signed with the biggest music label on the planet, made tons of videos and courted the media and MTV and never shied away from an interview or from trying to be all socio-political and be the "voice of a generation." He readily embraced all that the media heaped on him while claiming to hate it and I'm sure he knew his suicide would just immortalize him as he himself basically said in his suicide note ("it's better to burn out than fade away"), basically in his case the ultimate act of attention seeking. Cobain would not be a legend if he hadn't pulled the trigger in 1994. He'd be some middle aged guy who was an icon of 1990s youth culture, probably touring the country with Michael Moore and making or producing music with hipster bands and would've been speaking out against Bush if he had lived into the age of W.

Kurt just reminds me of the pretentious, self absorbed sort of conceited pratty art school types--the pompous, condescending little fucks who go out of their way not to act "mainstream" and make sure everyone notices, because it's cool to not conform. And they're not simply quietly just being different and doing their own thing, but announcing they're "different" and "not mainstream" with a fucking loud speaker and anyone who challenges them or disagrees either "doesn't get it" or is a meathead sexist person. The sort of people who think a picture of urine in a jar is some sort of profound unspoken artistic masterpiece.

If Kurt didn't like fame, why didn't he just do underground shit and not sign with Geffen/Sub Pop? Why didn't he pull an Axl and disappear from the public eye? If Axl, who had a much more distinctive appearance from Kurt, could just 86 the spotlight and disappear, Kurt could've done it easily if he really hated fame. But Kurt was still giving interviews with MTV even in the early spring of 1994. He claimed he was making fun of things like MTV and Rolling Stone but somehow I really doubt that. If someone truly hated fame and being mainstream they wouldn't appear at every major mainstream event imaginable and give every interview after interview and shove their social and political feelings all around--If you're not a mainstream, conformist guy, what do you give a fuck if people hear your views on every subject? Why cater to the conformists and live amongst them and whatnot? He just seems like he was a pretentious male politically correct feminazi, who'd be an ironic hipster today, and that's why the media ate him up--Because he was the first politically outspoken far left rock star since Lennon.

Cobain is often put up there with Morrison and Lennon and Hendrix and Elvis and Jimmy Page and the like among as being the best of all time but none of those others were hypocrites. They all generally accepted who they were and their role and didn't pretend that they were the opposite of what they were. Morrison never let people forget that he considered himself a poet first, for example.

Nirvana was already in decline in popularity when Kurt died. Nevermind sold around 10 million copies in the US and a total of 24 million worldwide. By contrast, Appetite for Destruction sold around 17 million in the US and 29 million worldwide. In Utero sold around 3.5 million copies in the US and around 12 million worldwide. Use Your Illusion I, the equivalent release as GN'R's next "full album", sold 7 million copies in the US and 18 million world wide. On Nirvana's end, that's a gigantic decline in returns.

The only major impact he and Nirvana had on pop culture was having teens and people in their 20s dress in grungey clothes for a few years in the early to mid 90s and effectively castrating and killing rock music, leading to the domination of hip hop and a decade worth of crap like Nickleback. That's his real legacy: the castration of Rock N' Roll leading to it's slow demise. Grunge was a fad, more a creation of the mass media than any real subgenre or subculture, that was already dying out when Cobain died. And unlike the Hippies in the 60s/70s, Grunge wasn't even a real movement or counterculture and it had no real impact on the overall culture, it was mostly about clothes and a supposed slacker attitude--Whereas The Hippie movement changed pop culture and society totally.

Also, I can't really find anything that radical that Nirvana brought to the table musically that The Beatles didn't do decades earlier. The marriage of pop hooks and harder catchy rock riffs with simple songwriting was already done multiple times over by The Beatles and in John Lennon's solo work.


The original douchebag Hipster

Edited by Indigo Miser
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Nirvana's moment in the sun was way too brief. If you calculate the time between Nevermind's release to Kurt Cobain's death, it was just about 2.5 years. If you think about it, Chinese Democracy is getting close about 3.5 years ago. It's unfortunate he wasn't around longer to do other things. He still had a lot of potential. Too bad he was in the wrong head space at the time.

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He's great to me. I love his music. I didn't agree with a lot of his politics but I admire him for standing up for what he believed in. He was a great man.

Amazing, amazing song, but am I the only person who loves Nirvana in the studio, but can't stand them live.

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Guest Len B'stard

What makes Kurt Cobain great? Ok, firstly, music. The guy wrote amazing songs. Simple, catchy, energetic. Secondly, he was considered a champion of an aspect of popular culture that was ignored and maligned by the mainstream and written off until it came back around 20 years later behind Cobain and became this huge fuckin thing. That on it's own will render Kurt Cobain, in the eyes of some, as head and shoulders above anybody you might care to name. I don't think you quite realise the ramifications of what was achieved there or else you wouldn't be asking this question. There was an entire generation of people of whom Kurt was one in a line that were doing what he did and some of them are still doing what he did, with absolutely no recognition. I'm talking about entire bands, scenes, musicians, peoples entire lives, fanzines, networks of scenes across America and the world, of bands and music that was just utterly ignored. I'm not saying that the whole post punk/80s hardcore generation looked up to Kurt as like, yes, the messiah has come, quite the opposite in many cases but the fact is he was what he was to those people and shall forever remain there and there are only a few artists who really occupy that sort of space. Johnny Rotten might've, if he wasn't such a contrary bastard, God bless him.

This is not something to be considered lightly. There is a reason why Nirvana "blew up" and it ain't for the same reasons that a Britney Spears might or y'know, X pop artist, it's just there was an entire generation and the generation before that WAITING to be represented by something.

See some people have a problem have this huge arrogance where they just can't comprehend why you ain't into something thats part of the mainstream. You're considered an annoyance, someone desperately trying to be different but the fact of it is there are just some people that Guns n Roses don't do it for...or Iron Maiden...or, y'know, whatever, Queen or whatever shit it is.

As far as fame goes, your point is completely redundant really because, look, who out there amongst famous people doesn't dislike their fame to some degree? I can't think of one famous artist who doesn't dislike somethings about being famous...same with Kurt. As many times as Kurt said he hated fame there were also instances where he said, look, this is a really cool thing, i can eat comfortably and feed my family and my daughters life is secured and etc etc, it's just natural shit, people don't always feel one block thing about a given thing. People like Bobby De Niro or whoever y'know, are artists but they're intensely private people, they find certain aspects of fame very troubling but certain ones are good.

If you're look for total and complete consistency out of Kurt, or any human being, then lemme end the suspense, every single of em is/will be contradictory. You, me, Kurt Cobain, Nelson Mandela, all of us.

And what do you mean he readily accepted all the "media" heaped on him, of course he did, he was a rockstar, he was selling an album, it's his job. I don't see what the problem is with a famous guy saying "hey, fame ain't all it's cracked up to be". There's a difference between courting artistic success and courting fame. The two can (and in the case of Kurt, did) overlap.

If Kurt didn't like fame, why didn't he just do underground shit and not sign with Geffen/Sub Pop? Why didn't he pull an Axl and disappear from the public eye?

Fuck you, why should he? Why should any band? So basically, you have a dilemma, you like making music, you wanna get your music heard, you didn't like the concept of fame, maybe you sacrifice one for the other but how dare you suggest that any sort of art thats different or says something outside of the usual mainstream twaddle should willfully ghettoize themselves and just stay in their little holes and never get heard, well then whats the point of being an artist, you might as well pack it in, you make art for it to be seen/heard/appreciated. And if you don't like the way a certain thing in your world is configured and structured you go about changing it, not accepting it and hiding from the reality of it, what an preposterous proposition.

If you don't agree with the way something is structured, you go about changing it, even if it is an entire industry and hey, lookee lookee, Kurt succeeded, didn't he, for a little while there, major record labels were clamouring for alternative bands, bands that, until the whole exposion, wouldn't get a fuckin look in.

THAT my friend, is why he shouldn't just do underground shit and not sign to Geffen.

As far as "major" impact, well, quite frankly, even to have a minor or a momentary impact on an entire industry or a culture i think, is a pretty fuckin huge achievement. If you're seriously expecting that a musician is gonna register change on the level of like, Thomas Edison then you're barking up the wrong tree, he's a musician in a band, he's only gonna have the sort of "impact" that musicians are capable of.

Having an impact on society is a cultural footnote, it's not celebrity squares, it's not "it's a knockout", it's not a competition, it's peoples lives. Sitting there and criticising a musician cuz you feel that other musicians have had more impact just seems a little desperate in terms of an attempt at criticism or attack.

As far as Nirvana being musically like, i dunno, out there or experimental or pushing music forward, i don't think anybody has really ever claimed that of Nirvana in a strictly musical sense although a case can be made for introducing into mainstream rock certain more abrasive elements that, prior to Nirvana, were perhaps a little less pallettable for mainstream rock albums, musical subtlties and nuances, messed up tunings, anti-solo's etc. Again, not world changing but it's something.

But as a more brief answer to your overall question the answer basically is the first paragraph of this post. That on its own covers it really and is reason enough for ANY artist to be considered great. Any artist at all. Bearing in mind you appear to be speaking with a view to social impact and less about music. That one thing on it's own puts Kurt Cobain in very very exclusive company, this is something that the Axl Roses and the Freddie Mercurys and Bruce Springsteens cannot claim but the Lennons and the Dylans and the Bob Marleys can, THEY belong on that level, whatever you do or do not think about Kurt Cobain as a musician or whether he was consistent to whatever you believe his principles to be or any of that shit, that is indisputable and this is why Kurt Cobain is considered "great", this is history now, you can't do anything about it, trouble you though it may.

On a personal level for me though? the songs...and the performance of them.

Edited by sugaraylen
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Lenny, Kurt Cobain is not on the same level as Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. He's still very good, but I don't think his music has quite the same universal appeal as those other artists' music does.

Edited by Randy Lahey
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although Nirvana is one of the biggest bands across Asia and everywhere I go I see skate kids in Nirvana shirts vandalizing bins and I never see a GNR shirt ever. I can't really see Tourette's played on Radio 2 in the afternoons though.

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Lenny, Kurt Cobain is not on the same level as Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. He's still very good, but I don't think his music has quite the same universal appeal as those other artists' music does.

Nirvana's appeal is mainly to people in their young to mid teens who want to feel edgy or like they're non-comformists or are edgy and alienated from society, by hipsters, and by people who are now somewhere in their 30s, who grew up with Nirvana and Cobain in the '90s and are nostalgic, whereas the appeal of Marley, Hendrix, Tupac, Dylan and Lennon is universal; it isn't just loved by depressed teens or nostalgic 30-somethings...Even people who don't like rock music like John Lennon; even people like myself who generally hate rap love Tupac. Kurt was just a figure of the 1990s. He is bound very much by the trappings and baggage of the early-mid 90s. He's not a timeless figure like the others.

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Kurt Cobain had more talent in his left pinky than Axl did in his whole life.

How exactly do you concentrate talent in to a left pinky? What did he do with that pinky that you find so amazing? Do you often find yourself fantasizing about the pinky?

The world is dying to know.

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Nirvana is a cool band. What I don't like about Kurt was that he popularized the idea that grunge was all about 3 chord riffs, which is soooo untrue. Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, Candlebox and Screaming had lots of great and memorable solos, riffs, verses and fills. Fuck that "simple shit" label he gave to the whole genre.

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