Evolution of Music in the 90's: Pain & Pleasure Sells

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Pain & Pleasure Sells in the 1990s

As times change and our country continues to adapt to its evolution, music coincides with America’s altering state. Musicians of the 1990s apply aspects of their own lives into their lyrics to sell themselves. Whether positive messages or negative, fans envy the lives that musicians in the 1990s sing about. The decade began with an attraction towards street-life, pain and agony in music with bands like the Nirvana and Metallica. Even in other genres like rap music, gang-life and drugs became commonly bragged about. N.W.A, Tupac Shakur, and Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G) all expressed this life in the hood. In addition, pop artists utilize their flawless physical features to sell their music.
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Fans seemed to love to hear about their favorite artists battling with drugs.
Nirvana, or more specifically Kurt Cobain, symbolized the depressed state of a high school dropout. Known for his depression, and of course his uncontrolled use of heroin, Cobain was credited for his ability to convert his own pain into renowned art. In a biography of Kurt Cobain entitled Heavier Than Heaven, Charles Cross focused on the short life of the depressed rock star. Cross wrote, “Teen Spirit was a song influenced by many things- his anger at his parents, his boredom, his eternal cynicism…” (Cross 169). “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana’s most popular song, involved Cobain’s family conflicts and other catalysts of his depression. Many unhappy teenagers found it easy, or even comforting to relate to Cobain’s tragic lifestyle. The music attracted, and encouraged listeners to be rebellious. No longer was love and peace a focal point for artists, rather aggression seemed to sell. Still today “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” is categorized as one of the greatest rock singles of all time. In the December 2004 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, the single is ranked number nine out of the five-hundred greatest songs of all times. The article reads, “Vig… could not tell that the song would soon make underground punk the new mainstream and catapult Cobain, a troubled young man with strict indie-culture ethics, into megacelebrity” (Rolling Stone 78). Amazingly, a song

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