Grunge emerged from the Seattle underground music scene in the mid-1980s. Grunge combined elements of punk and metal by borrowing from the DIY punk ethos but staying musical aligned with metal. Grunge grew in the underground, aided by the label Sub Pop which, in 1988, released the Sub Pop 100 compilation. Grunge exploded into the mainstream in 1991 with Nirvana’s release of Nevermind. The single Smells Like Teen Spirit garnered widespread attention due to a large presence on MTV. 

This completely rocked the world of commercial heavy music which had, up to this point, been dominated by glam metal. This change in direction indicated positive reception to the raw, stripped back grunge style over the garish theatrics of the glam style. Grunge music can commonly be identified by heavily distorted guitars playing simple power chord riffs over straightforward drum patterns. There is a notable absence of guitar solos in grunge, and the lyrics, often sung in an angsty tone, cover dark, introspective themes.

Notable artists:



Pearl Jam

Alice in Chains

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