The inspiration for this painting comes from the iconic song ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana, whose album Nevermind engendered the grunge movement of the 90s by his lyrics that express an existential malaise, reflecting the breakup of the family unit and the difficulty of North American adolescents to consider their future.
This album sounds like a cry from the heart, that of a disemboweled youth, tortured—Kurt Cobain’s—from which it emerges a feeling of instinctive urgency that strikes a nerve and to the bottom of the guts, to the point where we confuse this pain with ours... It's hardly surprising that the youth of that time identified itself to it so easily!
But contrary to popular belief and Charles Cross's insinuating biography of fiction 'Heavier Than Heaven', the lyrics of Smells Like Teen Spirit are in fact seemingly meaningless: in his interviews during the 1990s, Kurt Cobain kept changing and exaggerating the story by trying to explain its meaning.
Indeed, drummer Dave Grohl reportedly said he did not believe the song had any message whatsoever: "To see Kurt write the lyrics of a song five minutes before singing them, you'll find it a bit difficult to believe that the song has a lot to say about something. You need syllables to complete this space or you need something that rhymes."
Inspired by heavy metal, independent rock and hardcore punk, grunge is characterized by heavily saturated guitars and variable time signatures, and apathetic lyrics that address the anxieties of adolescence. Compared to other forms of rock music, the grunge aesthetic is more refined; many grunge musicians have been noticed for their dirty look and the rejection of theatricality, hence the origin of the stylistic name—the word "grunge" literally meaning… crass.