As the Nevermind album turns 30 on September 24, the question of Nirvana’s legacy arises. Dave Grohl, former drummer of the group now leader of the Foo Fighters, still blows on the embers – but mostly he names Billie Eilish as the torchbearer.
Nirvana’s second album sowed seeds far beyond guitar bands. Rapper Travis Scott, often seen wearing a Nirvana t-shirt, says on the French show Clique that Kurt Cobain “could have been a hip-hop artist” for his anti-conformist rhetoric and disruptive compositions ( he injected pop into his electric noise).
We can cite other American rappers. Post Malone covered Nirvana in a floral dress, while Kid Cudi performed on Saturday Night Live in the same outfit. A nod to Cobain, who appeared on the front page of The Face magazine in this way to distill his anti-virilist messages.
But Dave Grohl establishes another family tree during an exchange with Michael Rapino, boss of Live Nation (global structure of concerts and festivals) during a conference in February 2019. organized by Pollstar, media specialist in live.
The question about the heirs of Nirvana arises. Grohl doesn’t slip away. “My daughters are obsessed with Billie Eilish. The connection she has with her audience is the same as Nirvana in 1991”. No, obviously Grohl is not talking about form. Eilish does not speak against a backdrop of angry guitars. But the subject is the same as with Cobain (committed suicide in 1994) and the young singer is addressed to all those who do not find themselves in a too calibrated society.
“Grohl is right for Eilish who is anti-conformist, does not fit into a box,” dissects Charlotte Blum, author of the book Grunge, eternal youth scheduled for September 29 (Epa).
The manager evokes the neo-gothic look of the time of the first album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019). But the 19-year-old refuses to be labeled and today blurs the tracks by arriving in Marilyn Monroe version 2020 on the red carpet of the Met Gala in New York. It should not be seen as a mercantile concession. Just an assumed freedom: to be as many characters as she wants, as David Bowie could endorse the tinsel of Alladin Sane or the Thin White Duke, her doubles.
Nirvana also had fun stepping away from the ripped jeans-washed out T-shirt combo. In 1994, two months before Cobain’s death, the group went live on Canal in strict costumes. And Grohl, now leader / singer / guitarist of the Foo Fighters, appeared in 2011 in suit and tie, like his entire group, to unroll his abrasive rock at Live on Letterman, a great American show. Dressed like the Beatles in the great era, Grohl takes on that pop DNA already present in Nirvana.
Cobain has always refused to be locked in the skin of a punk and cursed standard bearer. Nirvana didn’t hesitate for a second to leave an independent label (Sub Pop) to sign on a major (Geffen) at the time of Nevermind. At the time, the trio just hoped to be able to avoid the difficult end of the month when it came time to pay the rent. But, against all odds, they will dominate Michael Jackson’s Dangerous at the top of the charts, which they will digest more or less easily.
Here again, the parallel with Eilish comes back. The young artist’s second album released this summer, Happier Than Ever (“Happier Than Ever”, which sounds quite ironically), deals mainly with the weight of success and cumbersome notoriety. Like Nirvana’s In Utero (1993), crossed by the group’s questions after the Nevermind tsunami.