Watch how putting Nirvana in a Major Key kills Grunge
Like most children of the 90s, when it came to rock stars and rock bands, few came bigger than Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, whose breakout rock anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” struck hair metal and glam rock dead, gave rise to grunge’s golden age, and gave the world our last universal rock gods before nu metal and butt rock drove rock music into the ground. That said, I bet you’re wondering – what would happen if you took “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and put Nirvana in a major key so they sounded like every pop rock act of the late 90s?
First off, if you were actually wondering that, you’re a monster. That said, looks like today is your lucky day, because somebody took the angry rock song that defined my generation, and with some editing magic, made it sound like every other upbeat rock song of the summer, at the price of ripping out the song’s heart and tortured soul.
Using a combination of editing programs and auto tune, a user on Vimeo named Sleep Good changed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into a major key and turned the generational grunge rock song into what pretty much sounds like just another mainstream pop hit. Best case scenario, it sounds like a Weezer song, worst case, like one of the various top 40 rock songs of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the ones that were awful enough to nearly kill a genre that had been the king of the airwaves since Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.
It’s awful, it’s horrifying, and you can’t unhear it – but it’s also educational, regarding how it showcases just what it was that made Nirvana so different from other rock bands, and especially the hundreds of others that have come after them. The dour notes, Kurt Cobain’s brooding vocals, the anger and angst of Nirvana, this was the beating heart of the band, and the reason they became the rock band that defined both generation X and the Millennials. They were angry, they were angsty, and they weren’t afraid to let that be the front and center of thier music like they did in “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, where that rage was front and center from Kurt Cobain’s wailing vocals to Dave Grohl’s drumming. Ironic that they did this trying to make a pop song, and in the process, made a song utterly unlike any other pop song.
By changing Nirvana to a major key, you rip out the very heart and soul of the band’s music, that anger, that angst. By changing Nirvana to a major key, you take away what made their sound unique by making them sound like every other flavor of the month rock band of the era. In the process, you touch a little bit on what made Nirvana so special, and at least part of the reason why of the hundreds of rock bands since then, none have had the impact on music or pop culture that Nirvana did.
It’s hard to be the sound of a generation when you sound like every other song on the radio.