This date shook the core of music and birthed the beginnings of the grunge scene into the mainstream. Enter Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV’s 120 Minutes. September 29, 1991 – a day that will live forever.
The sound Nirvana provided altered the course of music history as we know it. They trailblazed the path for a whole new genre, culminating elements from numerous other genres and developing a culture that would forever be emblazoned on the minds of all.
Without going into massive amounts of detail (there are plenty of resources out there to read/watch about everything Kurt Cobain and Nirvana), this post is merely going into the recent auction of Cobain’s guitar. Originally it was thought to maybe fetch $600k. Surprising all, his 1969 Fender Mustang guitar from their “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video pulled down $4.5 Million at Julien’s Auctions.
In one of his final interviews with Guitar World, he went on to say, “I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitar. But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them.”
This guitar was used in the recording of the “Nevermind” and “In Utero” studio albums, as well as a slew of world performances.
Other items at the auction from Cobain included his 1974 Dodge Dart, his drawing inspired by Iron Maiden (Eddy) on a skate deck, and original artwork by Cobain depicting Michael Jackson. In 2020, Cobain’s guitar from the MTV Unplugged show sold at the same auction house for $6 Million – the world’s most expensive guitar sold at auction, ever.
Modern day music has drastically shifted to the pretty polished product. Music videos comprised of consumerism and product placement. Maybe this is an older version of myself speaking out (“Get the hell off my lawn!”), but it still rings true with artistry in musical format. Enter turn of the decade autotune and a panel of writers for the lyrics. Producers galore. Almost as if entertainment is being run by a corporate entity. I’m not in that crowd, but all I know is Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license” (stylized in lowercase), is refreshing. To me the true essence of artistry at its core is to invoke emotion. This song has done just this, and I have only just watched the video for the first time today.
Based solely on the lyrics and the way the music flows in such an eerie coalesced composition is remarkable. It invokes such a degree of sadness, yet has a glimmer of hope with every new verse. Coming from her perspective, the lyricism feels like any one of us could experience or have had this experience in the past, or currently experiencing. This song reminds me of how modern lyrics are not earning their honors. Meaning Rodrigo (co-writer Dan Nigro), has attempted to say everything she can to the extreme where she needs to curse to send the message home. To me, cursing is life. But in most instances it is used primarily for proper emphasis. It shouldn’t be the common denominator to the piece.
The video opens up to Rodrigo driving down a long darkened road, feels very Alanis Morrissette “Ironic,” but in a much more dark context. Flashes of her walking down the street, mountains in the background, and on the floor of a house with a keyboard, finding the perfect note. Each passing flashback (and potential forward) contrasting from light to dark, warm to cold, modelling a foundation of timeline.
Rodrigo is then framed in a red lit room, 60/70’s sunburst art on the wall, painted with the songs lyrics “you said forever.”
The next verse kicks up into a hopeful melody with the contrasting “…and all my friends are tired of hearing how much I miss you.” This connects back to the previous flashes cold and warm scenes with a longer hold of Rodrigo singing in the dark street under a single streetlamp. The music and lyrics continue to build to an emotional crescendo, “‘Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street.” Everything drops to near silence, the video shows Rodrigo falling and then immediately picked up by the bridge. Just like relationships, the rollercoaster of this song and video continues, earning each moment and inciting the listener/viewer with every step. Toward the end of the bridge is where the earned expletive is inserted, but at this moment, it is truly deserved.
The last chorus/outro is remarkable. Everything drops out of the song except Rodrigo and piano. The video plays in suit with the brooding atmosphere painted, and the walls of the emotional playback come crumbling down. Exposing the delicate nature in which all humans have under their built up exoskeleton. When we shed everything, we can present our vulnerable selves.
Since the first time I heard the song, it attached to my soul. Everything about it reminds me of the youthful thoughts I think we all had with our first loves and losses. Rodrigo is young (19), but this song has such maturity, as well as a playful nature. We as people could see ourselves in this position. Or at least think about what this may feel like. Taking a look in the mirror and knowing we have been here before, or at least relate.
Olivia Rodrigo was in potentially hot water with her inspirations in the last year. Some of her songs drew from other artists, but have been compensated since. I don’t think she took these influences without knowing what was right and wrong. Other mainstream artists came to her defense to publicly demonstrate these things are in a known “gray area” unlike sampling. If an artist is sampling, they are taking cuts from songs to create their song. Rodrigo used similar stylings in her songs, pulled from her inspirations. At least, this is my understanding without listening to the tracks in question as of yet.
I have yet to listen to the remaining tracks of “SOUR” (stylized in all caps), but I will give it a whirl. I know there are a few other of her songs I have heard on the radio and most likely didn’t know it was her. I have high expectations of the rest of the album based on this track and music video.
If you have been following the folklore surrounding the band Twenty One Pilots (Wikipedia, proper), you will not be amiss to see the newest release from the band is nothing short of spectacular.
Without going into the full discography and seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes, it is best to know there was plenty of negative feedback from fans about the latest album release “Scaled and Icy.” The album was a severe left turn from previous releases. Eclectic, energetic, and drastically upbeat in comparison. The band had told fans time and time again to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Trust them. The Outside is exactly the trust they were needing from fans. It picks up where their previous music video for “Saturday” ended. A very upbeat and clubby 70’s funk vibe ending with a submarine crash brought on by “Trash,” a mythological dragon whom takes shape after appearing on the band’s album, and briefly in the band’s livestream experience. There seems to be much more behind the story of Trash and its significance, but has not been revealed as of yet.
We could go round and round about conjecture and semantics surrounding the lore of Twenty One Pilots, but it’s best to focus one breadcrumb at a time. The video washes up frontman Tyler Joseph who is quickly met by bandmate Josh Dunn on a beach while wielding a torch. They begin to explore their surroundings, then met with a mysterious creature we haven’t seen since the music video “Chlorine.” It is Ned (Again, more folklore to explore)! We then come to the realization there is a lot of Neds. After Tyler meets with the group of Neds and drinks from a (what appears to be) ceremonial cup (after singing the lyrics, “Take a hit…”), he follows through a cave to another beach. Seeing Josh in the distance on his drum set, geared up and ready. The Ned on the beach has removed his adult horns and gifted them to Tyler. In this moment, he brandishes them as his own, enabling a tribal-like dance. This allows him to harness the energy to take shape in a fallen “Bishop.” Whom we see is murdered in the beginning of the video. Solely based on the eyes, it seemed that fallen bishop had previously been either controlled or harnessing the energy of Trash (the dragon). Like I had stated previously, this lore goes deep.
After Tyler finishes his dance and the flashing between bodies subsides, Tyler’s bishop shape grasps one of the illuminated posts and shatters it to the ground making the other eight bishops flee. The closing of the video we see Tyler and Josh, torches in hand, reach a cliffside, raising their torches into the night sky. They are met with numerous other torches from across the visible area, yet still in the distance. The camera pans up and then back down to another twosome showing their faces almost with a knowing glance. The last few seconds of the video flashes what appears to be their younger selves. This image can be seen in the “Nico and the Niners” music video. This is a direct correlation (in my humble opinion), showing escape is possible from “Dema.” The Dystopian society controlled by the Bishops. But we can go further into the lore another time. For now, enjoy the music video, with or without the lore, it is still very entertaining.