The Nirvana song that hates its audience


It’s likely that most Nirvana fans weren’t listening to the lyrics when the band first came on the scene. Kurt Cobain have spent a lot of time and energy crafting the lyrics to songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. But, because he was more interested in the sounds of words than any predetermined structure, his words were frequently inconsistent from one line to the next. While Cobain occasionally wrote songs with deeper meanings, one of the band’s hits was overtly mean to their fans.

The band experienced their first taste of the business side of the music industry when they signed with Sub Pop. Labels started interested in selling the music to people rather than collaborating on an artistic project. So, Cobain learned about the rules of the road instead of just playing music for the sake of playing it.

Nirvana eventually signed to Geffen Records as a result of the various networking opportunities at Sub Pop. Even though they were still making ends meet on the indie circuit. “Sub Pop was going to be a subsidiary of some other big label. And I just thought, ‘Wow, cut out the middle man,'” Krist Novoselic recalled in Classic Albums. Let’s just get our own deal, please.

Although it was financially tempting to work on the same label as rock legends, Cobain had mixed feelings about the possibility of becoming a major rock band. Cobain feared that their niche audience might get turned off by the macho bravado of Guns N’ Roses. The band was their later competitors and hair metal titans, with whom they shared a record label.

Cobain wrote “In Bloom” about the particular subset of fans he didn’t want in his life in order to protect his fan base. The chorus confronts fans who only listen to bands like Nirvana for the guitar riffs and melodies rather than the lyrics. Despite the fact that the song’s verses are rather abstract.

Cobain conjured up the archetype of the perfect high school jock for the fans he hated. They just wanted to sing along to pretty songs while he shot his guns, unaware the song openly mocked them. In contrast to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which may have been about uniting against authority, “In Bloom” was about maintaining the purest possible fan base.

Upon the release of Nevermind, however, the public lost much of the song’s irony. Cobain’s melodies on songs like “Come As You Are” won over listeners from all walks of life. In the documentary Back and Forth, Dave Grohl talked about how odd it was to see those people at the band’s performances. Stating, “It went from cool college kids to jocks”. For me, that was the biggest adjustment. I used to think it was interesting that there were jocks here when I peered out from behind the stage. Whoa, do they enjoy our music? They used to give me the finger when I listened to this music.

Honored to be a rock star, Cobain wasn’t prepared for his audience to lose interest. Following his attempt to establish his band as one of the biggest in the world, Cobain withdrew due to the enormous success. Performing sparingly during the Nevermind promotional tour and making every effort to reduce the band’s commercial potential on In Utero. Nothing could ever erase the world’s love for Nirvana. But, “In Bloom” remained the one song that fully revealed their contempt for the half of their fan base that lacks intelligence.


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