The recording work put an end to the era of hard rock, with its party and its misogyny, and opened a world showcase for gray sounds and chords to the times from the American Northwest.
Like when you restart a computer, the disc’s release 30 years ago Nevermind Nirvana changed rock history and shaped a post-adolescent disenchantment that continues to this day, at the hands of artists like Billie Eilish.
Nevermind went on sale on September 24, 1991. “It was an album that made hard rock old, the rock of the moment, superficial, misogynistic and less intense,” explains French music journalist Charlotte Blum, author of a book on the “grunge”. Indeed, the Guns N’Roses double album, Use Your Illusion I & II, published just a week earlier, suddenly seems much older.
Musically, the explosion was total, with songs like “Come As You Are” or “In Bloom” that for the American music critic Alex Ross oscillate “between meditation and struggle”. A mixture of calm and storm that emerged from the studio of Butch Vig, Garbage’s music producer and drummer.
For another rock specialist, Frenchman Nicolas Dupuy, it is a synthesis between “Black Sabbath (founding group of heavy metal) and the Beatles.”
And although three decades later Nevermind It is also news for negative reasons (the baby on the cover sued Nirvana at the end of August for child pornography), rock was never the same again after the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, whose video clip was looping on MTV , “Reference medium of the time”, affirms Blum.
“The HBO of music”
“Nevermind he inaugurated ‘grunge’, he achieved his goal ”, says Dupuy. Nirvana only hoped that the sales would allow them to pay the rent but the album dethroned Dangerous, Michael Jackson’s eighth studio album, from the top spot on the sales charts.
Nevertheless, the rock prophet suit was too big for Kurt Cobain. Success and his drug addiction didn’t help. Finally, he committed suicide in 1994 at age 27, like Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
Cobain had time, however, to make a political message of his career. “He wore dresses and openly said that ‘if you are racist or homophobic, don’t come to our concerts’, he also invited girl bands to his tours,” says Charlotte Blum.
Currently, the artists who admit to being influenced by the second album of the group, go beyond the guitar bands. For rappers like Travis Scott (born 1991 and who often wears Nirvana T-shirts), Kurt Cobain “could have been a hip-hop artist” for his anti-conformist speech.
Other American rappers such as Post Malone or Kid Cudi pay tribute to the singer by wearing flowery dresses in their performances.
“With ‘Nevermind’, Nirvana became the HBO of music: everyone who makes series watches HBO, and all musicians today have listened to Nirvana,” says Blum about the intergenerational nature of the group.
“Do not get pigeonholed”
But as the group’s former drummer, Dave Grohl, today leader of the Foo Fighters, confesses, it is above all Billie Eilish who most clearly symbolizes the heritage of Nirvana.
“My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish. His connection with the public is the same as Nirvana in 1991, ”says Grohl. For him, the 19-year-old singer speaks for the same people: all those who do not feel comfortable in a society that is too codified.
“Grohl is right, Eilish is not conformist, she does not allow herself to be pigeonholed,” explains Blum, a parallel that is also reflected in the young artist’s second album, released this summer with the ironic title of “Happier Than Ever” (“More happy than ever ”), where he addresses the weight of success and fame, themes that cross In the Uterus by Nirvana, the album after the success of Nevermind.