Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle sound) is a rock music genre and subculture that emerged during the mid-1980s in the Pacific Northwest U.S. state of Washington, particularly in Seattle and nearby towns. The early grunge movement revolved around Seattle's independent record label Sub Pop and the region's underground music scene. The owners of Sub Pop marketed Northwestern punk rock shrewdly and the media was encouraged to describe it as "grunge", which came to mean a punk and metal hybrid style of music.[6] By the early 1990s its popularity had spread, with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other parts of the United States and in Australia, building strong followings and signing major record deals.

Grunge was commercially successful in the early to mid-1990s, due to releases such as Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger, Alice in Chains' Dirt, and Stone Temple Pilots' Core. The success of these bands boosted the popularity of alternative rock and made grunge the most popular form of rock music at the time[7] Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, they influenced modern rock music, as their lyrics brought socially conscious issues into pop culture[8] and added introspection and an exploration of what it means to be true to oneself.[9] Grunge was also an influence on later genres such as post-grunge (such as Creed and Nickelback) and nu metal (such as Korn and Limp Bizkit).

Grunge fuses elements of punk rock[1] and heavy metal,[2] featuring the distorted electric guitar sound used in both genres, although some bands performed with more emphasis on one or the other. Like these genres, grunge typically uses electric guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals. Grunge also incorporates influences from indie rock bands such as Sonic Youth. Lyrics are typically angst-filled and introspective, often addressing themes such as social alienation, self-doubt, abuse, neglect, betrayal, social and emotional isolation, psychological trauma and a desire for freedom.[10][11]

A number of factors contributed to grunge's decline in prominence. During the mid-to-late 1990s, many grunge bands broke up or became less visible. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, labeled by Time as "the John Lennon of the swinging Northwest," appeared unusually tortured by success and struggled with an addiction to heroin before his death at the age of 27 in 1994.

Origin of the term

A male guitarist and singer, Mark Arm, is onstage, holding an electric guitar.
Mark Arm of Green River whose Dry as a Bone EP was described as "ultra-loose grunge" in 1987

The word "grunge" is American slang for "someone or something that is repugnant" and also for "dirt".[12][13] The word was first recorded as being applied to Seattle musicians in July 1987 when Bruce Pavitt described Green River's Dry as a Bone EP in a Sub Pop record company catalogue as "gritty vocals, roaring Marshall amps, ultra-loose GRUNGE that destroyed the morals of a generation".[14] Although the word "grunge" has been used to describe bands since the 1960s, this was the first association of grunge with the grinding, sludgy sound of Seattle.[15][16] It is expensive and time consuming to get a recording to sound clean, so for those northwestern bands just starting out it was cheaper for them to leave the sound dirty and just turn up their volume.[15] This dirty sound, due to low budgets, unfamiliarity with recording, and a lack of professionalism may be the origin of the term "grunge".[17]

The "Seattle scene" refers to that city's alternative music movement that was linked to the University of Washington and The Evergreen State College. Evergreen is a progressive college which does not use a conventional grading system and has its own radio station, KAOS. Seattle's remoteness from Los Angeles led to a perceived purity of its music. The music of these bands, many of which had recorded with Seattle's independent record label Sub Pop, became labeled as "grunge".[18] Nirvana's frontman Kurt Cobain, in one of his final interviews, credited Jonathan Poneman, cofounder of Sub Pop, with coining the term "grunge" to describe the music.[19]

The term "Seattle sound" became a marketing ploy for the music industry.[18] In September 1991, the Nirvana album Nevermind was released, bringing mainstream attention to the music of Seattle. Cobain loathed the word "grunge"[2] and despised the new scene that was developing, feeling that record companies were signing old "cock-rock" bands who were pretending to be grunge and claiming to be from Seattle.[20]

Some bands associated with the genre, such as Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains, have not been receptive to the label, preferring instead to be referred to as "rock and roll" bands.[21][22][23] Ben Shepherd from Soundgarden stated that he "hates the word" grunge and hates "being associated with it."[24] Seattle musician Jeff Stetson states that when he visited Seattle in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a touring musician, the local musicians did not refer to themselves as "grunge" performers or their style as "grunge" and they were not flattered that their music was being called "grunge".[25]

Rolling Stone noted the genre's lack of a clear definition.[26] Robert Loss acknowledges the challenges of defining "grunge"; stating that while he can recount stories about grunge, they do not serve to provide a useful definition.[27] Roy Shuker states that the term "obscured a variety of styles."[18] Stetson states that grunge was not a movement, "monolithic musical genre", or a way to react to 1980s-era metal pop; he calls the term a misnomer mostly based on hype.[25] Stetson states that prominent bands considered to be grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney and Hammerbox) all sound different.[25] Mark Yarm, author of Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, pointed out vast differences between grunge bands, with some being punk and others being metal-based.[24]

Other Languages
العربية: غرنج
aragonés: Grunge
asturianu: Grunge
azərbaycanca: Qranj
বাংলা: গ্রুঞ্জ
беларуская: Грандж
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Грандж
български: Гръндж
Boarisch: Grunge
bosanski: Grunge
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Deutsch: Grunge
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Ελληνικά: Grunge
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Grunge
español: Grunge
euskara: Grunge
فارسی: گرانج
français: Grunge
Gaeilge: Grúinse
galego: Grunge
한국어: 그런지
հայերեն: Գրանջ
hrvatski: Grunge
Bahasa Indonesia: Grunge
íslenska: Grugg
italiano: Grunge
עברית: גראנג'
ქართული: გრანჟი
latviešu: Grandžmūzika
lietuvių: Grunge
magyar: Grunge
македонски: Гранџ
Bahasa Melayu: Grunge
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Bóng-só̤ ièu-gūng
မြန်မာဘာသာ: Grunge
Nederlands: Grunge
日本語: グランジ
norsk: Grunge
norsk nynorsk: Grunge
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Grunge
Picard: Grunge
Plattdüütsch: Grunge
polski: Grunge
português: Grunge
română: Grunge
русский: Гранж
Scots: Grunge
sicilianu: Grunge
Simple English: Grunge music
slovenčina: Grunge
slovenščina: Grunge
српски / srpski: Гранџ
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Grunge
suomi: Grunge
svenska: Grunge
தமிழ்: கிரஞ்சு
Türkçe: Grunge
українська: Грандж
Tiếng Việt: Grunge
中文: 油漬搖滾