Distorsions of Authenticity: Grunge According to MTV Unplugged Between Performance, Resistance, and Memory
Keywords:grunge, liveness, televised music performance, authenticity, Nirvana
In the context of popular music studies, live performance represents a widely discussed theme which is enriched by further problematics when it deals with audiovisual media. The concept of liveness can be a relevant component of a community’s musical identity, such as in the case of the Seattle grunge scene. The live dimension is therefore a grunge audiovisual topic. An example full of implications is MTV Unplugged, which hosted the participation of three different Seattle bands between 1992 and 1996: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains. After Kurt Cobain’s and Layne Staley’s death, these performances have been wrapped around a mythical halo, as they have become fans’ main tool to elaborate their loss. By analyzing the audiovisual characteristics of the three televised concerts, the article wants to demonstrate how MTV Unplugged promoted the development of an elegiac interpretation of grunge. This affected not only the bands involved in these acoustic setlists, but the entire musical phenomenon too. Authenticity, for which liveness should act as a warrantor, collides with posthumous processes of memory, related to the inter-mundanity of the performance.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Francesco Rossetti
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