Does Nirvana qualify as the most successful emo band of all time?

1. According to wiki: "The term emo was derived from the fact that, on occasion, members of a band would become spontaneously and strongly emotional during performances."

2. Also from wiki: "[Grunge lyrics] are typically angst-filled — anger, frustration, ennui, fear, depression and drug addiction are often explored in grunge songs."

3. Emotions include anger, frustration, ennuui, fear, and depression.

Need more proof?;

1. According to Andy Radin ("What the heck is emo anyways): "The prevailing change in D.C. is toward melodic rock with punk sensibilities.[...] These bands' sound eventually becomes known as the classic 'D.C. sound.' Some of it is derisively labeled 'emo,' as shorthand for 'emotional.'"

2. And from St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture© on Grunge: "as the hard-core and punk movements began to wane in the mid-1980s, many of those independent bands retained their amplifiers and distortion pedals but began slowing the tempos of their songs considerably."


While I am enjoying the knee-jerk reactions to my question, I have to admit that most of the answers entered here show a lack of familiarity with the music in question.

First of all, the concept of “emo” music is obviously misunderstood. As I indicated, I was comparing Nirvana to their contemporaries. That is, bands from the eighties and early nineties.“Phase one: "emocore" Rites of Spring, Embrace, Gray Matter, Ignition, Dag Nasty, Monsula, Fugazi kind of, Fuel, Samiam, Jawbreaker, Hot Water Music, Elliot, Friction, Soulside, early Lifetime, Split Lip/Chamberlain, Kerosene 454. ”

“Starts in DC in 1984/85 and goes strong, spreads to the SF Bay in 1989...”

And as for Dave Grohl putting his foot up my ****, he may be the linking catalyst to the “D.C. sound” referred to above, as wiki indicates;

“Later that year [1990],Buzz Osborne of The Melvins introduced them to Dave Grohl, who was looking for a new band following the sudden break-up of D.C. hardcore punks Scream.”

Update 2:

Such literate rebuttals;

"No they weren't." (the 3rd Grade approach to debate.)

"Find me a quote by Kurt," can't, but I will give 3 relevant quotes;

1. "...the classic 'D.C. sound.' Some of it is derisively labeled 'emo,'...One account has this term first appearing in a Flipside interview with Ian MacKaye."(

2. "Mark widely credited for being the first to use the term 'grunge'...However, Arm used the term pejoratively; he called the band's style 'pure grunge, pure sh**'." (wiki/Grunge)

3. "Scream hated the classification of bands into certain types...they played as simply 'music.'" (wiki/Scream(band))

Had Mark been more concise, the industry flaks would have to choose between calling the style "pure sh**" or coming up with something themselves.

The term "emo" does not apply, as mentioned, to all emotional music, but rather, in the beginning, to the sub-set of punk rock which was developing at the time.

13 Answers

  • A. T.
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I will just accept Nirvana for the music they played and they people they are/were. I do not need any more proof or labels.

  • 4 years ago

    Emo Music Wiki

  • 1 decade ago

    Please dont ever lump Nirvana in with these clowns trying to make music today. There is/was nothing emo about Nirvana. They were a great alt rock band that hit the big time and were fronted by a really disturbed guy. And FYI Grohl was the heart and soul of that band. And Im still mad at Kurt for taking his musical gifts away from us too soon. As a guy who lived through that scene I feel that music today does not have half the talent of bands like Nirvana, Alice n Chains, STP etc etc. Todays "rock" bands are factory made assembly line garbage. With lyrics and riffs that arent fit for a Barney and Friends cd.

    Source(s): Livin the 90s
  • Bowzer
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Naaaah, they weren't as whiny or reedy or shallow as what we would now call an "emo band".

    Emo does not = emotional, otherwise gospel and the blues as well as Pavarotti (hey, he weeps openly in performance : ) are all "emo".

    I don't think today's sell-out, carbon-copy emo bands would write songs like "Floyd The Barber" or "Tourette's". They have neither the wit, the originality or the morbidly different world-view of Kurt & Co.

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  • haha. good argument.

    emo is a fad. i can still remember that time (and it wasnt even that long ago!) where dashboard confessional was emo emo.

    Today, emo is characterized by that side parted black hair, leggings and eyeliner.

    so, Nirvana=emo? Dave Grohl himself would stick his foot up your ******. In the nicest, manliest, most non-depressing way of course

  • 1 decade ago

    You've got a point.....but no. They are waaaay too good to be emo. Emo is a stupid fad, Nirvana lives on forever.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    If anyone can find me a quote by Kurt Cobain calling his music "emo" OR "grunge", I'll give you a million dollars.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    thats a good argument but Nirvana isnt classified as emo if u really listened to there music u would kno that

  • 1 decade ago

    brilliant! I think you're right!

    just a note ennui is "a feeling of listlessness and dissatisifaction arising form lack of occupation or excitement" apparently it's a common plight among suburban teens.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    nirvana are not emo they are grunge you are a insult to nirvana

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