The term Grunge was coined by Mark Arm, who later formed the popular group MudHoney in an attempt to describe this type of music. This term is often used synonymously with alternative music, but that is actually an entirely different genre altogether. Grunge is characterized by its strong guitar, deliberate distortion, and angst-ridden lyrics.
Grunge culture started in early nineties Seattle, and was, for the most part, a relatively unnoticed movement. Nirvana was, of course, the supposed breakout leader of this new style, and their hit song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ set a new precedent. This song is in the Top Ten of Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Record companies were taken by surprise by this turn of events, but quickly signed up other groups such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and The Offspring. Seattle and the Pacific Northwest was the new capital of this new movement in rock and roll, also known as “Seattle Sound”.
Grunge had a style and culture that was as extensive as the hippies of the sixties. The long, unkept hair and ‘earthy clothing’ were part of the fashion. Its concerts made extensive use of the mosh pit. Concerts like Lollapalooza became the grunge Woodstock. Famed comic-musician Weird Al Yankovic satirized this movement in his video for ‘Smelled Like Nirvanna’, where he used gargling water and kazoos as well as other random imagery to show how Nirvanna was as showy as it was deliberately random.
Most people tend to say that the Grunge movement died with Nirvanna’s lead Kurt Cobain in 1994. There were other Grunge bands that disbanded afterwards, but Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, the Offspring, and many others are still playing. Either way, there is no denying the influence is still obvious in many other ‘post grunge’ groups like Third Eye Blind, Puddle of Mudd and Nickelback.