Thipwimon Thipwimon Chaloeikrai 520132007 Assoc. Prof.

Panit ENG 711 20th August 2009


Famous is the Last Thing I Wanted to Be
Blurb: The success of Nirvana was an accident or well-calculated outcome of creative genius by punk rockers who reluctantly hit it big.

"…With the lights out its less dangerous Here we are now, Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now. Entertain us A mulatto, An albino, A mosquito, My libido Yeah!"

This song, Smells Like Teen Spirit, is commonly known as the anthem of X generation, when Nirvana has entered to the world overwhelmed with superficial hair metal, they has also entered to the world of Tipping Point where the unexpected become expected, where sweeping change is more than possibility - contrary to all prospects - the sureness. Amongst the a short breathe of early 90’s, the 80’s was a decade of American music punctuated mainly with big, arena playing ‘hair metal’ bands such as Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’



Roses and Motley Crue, the era of polished recording, monster vocals and apparently endless guitar solos, grunge erased all these scenes. With the murky sound of music from Seattle, before Nirvana entered to fan’s dialect, they were known as the ‘Seattle Sound’, Sub Pop. “Punk is musical freedom. It's saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster's terms, 'nirvana' means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that's pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock.” Kurt Cobain, from About a Son. Kurt Donald Cobain, the front man of Nirvana, stated his aim of innovating new kind of music. It was rock music totally different to the hair metal that dominated most of the decade; it combined the heaviness of metal with 70’s stripped–down- punk deep feelings and solo improvisations. Grunge had landed already. Opening the floodgates for countless rock bands to do what they do and look forward to having a fair chance at being accepted commercially, Nirvana was a trailblazer. From the streets and rises up to the general populace via the word of mouth, Nirvana, known as antimusic industrial band, ironically became an overnight dominant genre on radio and music television in the United States. When looking at their overnight - success characteristic, creative and revolutionary show going against every principle of that rock era possibly causes their tipping point. An anonymous Nirvana’s fan claims that Nirvana was also illustrious while they were playing in a small unknown pub. This band gained the popularity because of its raw artistic and atmospheric sound making the audiences a tad uncomfortable which no band could exude the emotion like they had succeeded.



"… I always sensed this really intense sense of fantasy around him, through his music and really intense sense of atmosphere." Curt Kirkwood from Meat Puppets band once talked about his contagious rapport. Another reason, this special characteristic of Cobain, is his persuasiveness. His emotion is infectious as well as his music manner. Some charismatic person can infect audiences with his emotions. Some of my musician friend accepts that Nirvana’s songs undercurrent with angst, depression, and fear emotionally affects him emotionally. A further factor for Nirvana’s popularity is the stickiness hooks. From this reason, once Kurt accepts this fact from About a Son. “I don’t think we’re better than the other bands… We got attention because our songs have hooks, which stick in people’s minds.” While the Nirvana seems no way conventional, the tracks possess catchy hooks that are psychologically pleasing and brain worming. Sometimes these hooks hypnotize the audiences under chanting of the haunting lyric repetitions. One more factor is, did Cobain’s death make him more popular? There was question lingered that killing himself in 1994 has pushed him into saint-like status and making him infallible to the many Nirvana’s fans. Maybe true. “It's better to burn out than fade away.” Once said Kurt Cobain. From the Tipping Point, suicide is the private language between members of similar subculture as a way the person conveys information about his difficulties to others.

Thipwimon “Killing oneself was seen as the province of heroes, poets, the nobility -- men of honor…” claims Lisa Lieberman, an American scholar of modern European cultural and intellectual history. Suicide speaks for itself as the contagious message; he left doubts and mysterious


folklores for thrashing out over and over. Death make people miss him in more passionate and pathos way. It sounds like Cobain also used suicide to saleable himself, setting him afar as god and freezing the memory of Nirvana’s fans forever. Lieberman adds, “If suicide can have a meaning, the meaning is almost certainly a variation on "Fuck you!" From the factors of Nirvana’s fad, it is mysterious to understand all the factors in the world of Tipping Point where social changes are volatile and inexplicable. It could be their aim to be famous; to sign the contract with a big record and broadcasting their video via MTV while other grunge bands didn’t. And it could be the listeners who grew bored with hair metal and looking for new identity. May it be the exaggerating of his fans interpreting his messages? Why it is to be only Nirvana labeled as a spearhead of grunge. “…With the slightest push – in just the right place – it can be tipped.” claims the Tipping Point theory. Still, it is hard to make sense.