Shearer’s Spotlight: The Top 3 Ways That Nirvana’s Nevermind Impacted The Music World

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Each Friday here on the VH1 Blog, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer’s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the Top 20 Countdown tomorrow morning when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT. Also, don’t forget to tune into VH1 Classic tonight at 11 p.m. to see the never-before-seen footage of Nirvana: Live At The Paramount, shot in Seattle way back in 1991.

This Tuesday, Sept. 27, the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Nirvana’s breakthrough album, Nevermind, will be released. For a band that took pride in appearing to be normal everyday schmoes, a multi-CD/DVD deluxe package feels a tad extravagant, but considering the impact the album made on the music industry, it also feels very appropriate, if not long overdue.

For those too young to remember, here are three ways Nevermind impacted the world of mainstream music:

1) Made Mainstream Rock Less Homophobic
In one of the most confusing paradoxes in music history, mainstream rock n’ roll in the 1980s was dominated by misogynistic guys who liked to wear makeup. Nirvana—with its Pacific Northwest feminist sensibilities—helped put a halt to this way of thinking, especially when Kurt Cobain mockingly appeared on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball wearing an evening gown. Interviews with openly gay magazines and really dressing like girls for their “In Bloom” music video—while Kurt and Krist playfully grinded on one another—helped prove that mainstream rock didn’t need to be macho, to be good.

2) Brought Punk to the Suburbs
Nirvana was far from being the first mainstream punk band, and some would say far from being a punk band at all. But because Nevermind became a must-have for any music-loving teenager in the early nineties, it ensured that at least two classically built punk rock songs—“Breed” and “Territorial Pissings”—would be in heavy rotation on their home stereos. This fierce duo of hardcore ditties helped train the palate of suburban youth for the next wave of punk rock, and also enticed many to do a back-study on the crop of distortion-driven bands that influenced Nirvana.

3) Inspired Bands to D.I.Y.
Kurt Cobain was an idea man: It was his idea to have a naked baby swimming towards a dollar bill on his band’s major label debut; it was his idea to dig up an old kinescope camera for Nirvana’s “In Bloom” video; and it was his idea to have a group of anarchist cheerleaders in the clip for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (although Cobain wanted the girls to have a little more meat on their bones). From songwriting, album artwork and music videos, to having Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and loaves of white bread on their tour rider, Nirvana seemed to have a hand in all aspects of their band’s development. Other acts quickly followed suite, which helped them develop as both musicians and legitimate “artists.”

[Photo: Getty Images]

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