At the height of its popularity, Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was hailed as the battle hymn of a "revolution" among the younger generation. Coming out of the consumerism that dominated the 1980s, grunge came along when young people in particular were looking for something more than the latest gadget corporate America was pushing their way. Indeed, the entire grunge movement was a cut against all things shiny and new with Nirvana's anthem serving as the tip of the spear.
All these years later, without a hint of irony, Nirvana records are still selling like hotcakes. Indeed, sales are still so good that Cobain was the top grossing dead celebrity in the last 12 months with $50 million dollars in posthumous earnings since last October. The revolutionary has been turned into a corporate cash cow.
The commercialization of grunge led to its demise for the same reasons it sprang to life. Now, with its leader having passed through the rye there is no one to guard the remaining carcass from circling vultures. The degradation may hit new heights if the inherent consequences of Courtney Love's decision to sell off 25% of Nirvana's catalog to a music publishing company come to pass. For the uninitiated, the sole job of a publishing company is to find ways to earn revenue from a song.
Forbes reports that at least one (and maybe more) Nirvana tune has been licensed for use in an upcoming episode of "CSI: Miami." That may not be the end of the world for Cobain disciples, but the next logical step is selling "the voice of a generation" out to commercials. I can already see well dressed yuppies driving down canyon roads in their new BMW bouncing to the guttural sounds of "Breed" or "Dive" with, of course, a flannel shirt tossed over the backseat. Or, maybe put "Drain You" in a Liquid Plumber spot?
Obviously, I can't say how Kurt Cobain himself would react if something so sacrilegious should materialize, but I imagine it'd be something like this:
With the lights out its less dangerous / Here we are now
Entertain us / I feel stupid and contagious ... Oh well, whatever, never mind.