Grunge is a darker, edgier style these days that is usually depicted with glitches, vinyl records, cigarettes, neon lights, and the color black (which has absolutely nothing to do with the original grunge). Grunge, historically though, has its roots in the 1980's hard rock scene of Seattle, Washington as a countercultural, anti-consumerism movement, music genre, and fashion made popular by bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. Grunge clothing was meant to be timeless and quite casual, however, it became mainstream in the 1990's and eventually lost its anti-consumerist philosophy, having now been reduced to a shallow aesthetic people seem to embrace to see edgy in the modern era. It can be argued the exact date of Grunge's death of relevance in the 1990's was April 5th, 1994, after the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman, Kurt Cobain.
A lot of Grunge visuals involve a lot of dirty, grimy imagery that shows a sort of hopelessness and disenchantment with modern society. A lot of earth tones and pale colors are used to convey this sort of cultural depression often associated with Grunge.
Grunge fashion of the 1980's and 1990's was often purchased out of thrift stores at the time. Some will argue it was done out of a rejection of the fashions of the time, but it's generally agreed that it's because it was cheaper as, at the time, most grunge artists were dirt poor. Men often wore over-sized t-shirts, flannel shirts (that would be tied off around the waist when it got too hot), ripped jeans, and combat boots because these were considered timeless looks and were generally durable and reliable clothing to wear. Women tended to favor slip dresses, flannel shirts, ripped jeans, chokers, and the bell-bottoms/babydoll t-shirt was a popular combination as well. It went out of fashion after Kurt Cobain's suicide, but has started coming back into fashion as the 90's renaissance started taking place (an argument could be made this is what has led to the rise in prominence of Vaporwave as well). Definitely expect this trend to regress as Y2K starts to become more and more prominent only to cycle back in another 20 years, as all trends seem to. But with the Grunge renaissance, the philosophical elements of the Grunge movement were completely dropped in favor of just achieving the visual aesthetic of looking Grunge (although often paying far more exorbitant amounts of money compared to the original Grunge style icons, who almost exclusively shopped at Thrift Stores).
For the ladies, however, there was also the Kinderwhore aesthetic. For more information on that, please click the link.
While the fashion has certainly come back into style, the music doesn't seem to have the same comeback, which was a blend of heavy metal sound and punk rock ethos. However, after Kurt Cobain's suicide, grunge started to trail off into two separate genres: post-grunge, which included bands like Creed, Nickelback, Staind, Puddle of Mudd, Bush, and the Foo Fighters (fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl) and nu-metal, which included bands like KoRn, Limp Bizkit, Deftones, Kid Rock, Papa Roach, P.O.D., and Linkin Park. The Grunge revival has led to the old staples of the original grunge scene to see a return to popularity, but as of this writing, it has not led to any new grunge bands rising up the ranks, but not for lack of trying. Artists in the genre include:
- Pearl Jam
- Alice in Chains
- Stone Temple Pilots
- Green River
- 7 Year Bitch
- Temple of the Dog
- Mother Love Bone
- The Gits
- Title Fight
- Code Orange
- Milk Teeth
- Grunge Forever Official Spotify playlist
- 90's Grunge/Rock Spotify playlist by adrianperegrino
- The Sound of Grunge Spotify playlist by The Sounds of Spotify
- Seattle Grunge Spotify playlist by Iain C Forbes
- Grunge: Essentials Spotify playlist by Cultura Inquieta
- grunge aesthetic songs Spotify playlist by Kyra
- Post-Grunge Official Spotify playlist (to see what became of the genre)
Soft Grunge, also known as “pastel grunge,” stems from the original grunge movement in the early 1990s. With noticeable gothic and kawaii influences, the “cute” and deliberate soft grunge styles started to gain popularity in 2010, on social media. It is typically a form of the grunge aesthetic, but adding in more colors and a feminine touch.