The college-age demographic has always been the target audience for everything from pop trends to fashion to advertising, so it could come as no surprise that for over a decade now, there has been a barometer of what the average eighteen year old is thinking: it is called the Mindset List, and is the brainchild of two professors out of Beloit College in Wisconsin, Tom McBride and Ron Nief. Every August, the pair publish their Mindset List, which offers unique and thought-provoking insights into not only what college-age teenagers are thinking, but compiles their personal beliefs.
Some observations are quaintly amusing, such as “Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry” or, “Beethoven has always been a dog.” Others note a surprising deficit of current events: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court”, and “There have always been women priests in the Anglican Church.” But the observation that’s been getting the lion’s share of media attention lately comes in at #46 and states, “Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.”
As a result, blogs have been popping up all over cyberspace debating both the validity of grunge artists actually appearing on the playlists of classic rock radio stations, and posing the proverbial question, “how old does a song/artist have to be in order to be considered “classic rock”? Some classic-rock format stations, such as Q104.3 FM in New York, have integrated tracks like Pearl Jam‘s “Jeremy” and Soundgarden‘s “Black Hole Sun” among the Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, and Rolling Stones, while Manchester, England’s 106.1 station [which bills itself as no less than “Manchester’s First Classic Rock Station”] not only plays songs by Nirvana, but even posted a video clip of the band performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on Britian’s famed Top Of The Pops tv program.
Still, many diehard rock fans take offense to the very notion that Nirvana be viewed as a classic rock band, and have made their distaste known – from the weblog Viva La Mainstream: “Let’s get this out of the way right now. I have never heard any Nirvana song on anything other than standard alternative or rock stations. I don’t know who Beloit is trying to fool by trying to convince my generation that Nirvana is in any way an “oldie”, but the older generations do not and have no intention of adding Nirvana to any classic rock or oldies playlists.” And this from a blogger on Harmony Central: “I’m pretty young (23), and I can remember a time when you’d never hear 80s stuff on classic rock radio. And even that still feels wrong, to me.”
So perhaps the young people have a point, as evidence seems to suggest that ship has already sailed, and while the number of classic rock stations playing Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana remains in the minority, it’s only a matter of time before grunge artists of the 90’s become a staple of classic rock format radio stations. And to Nirvana’s credit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was an admitted ripoff of Boston‘s “More Than A Feeling” anyway – don’t believe me? Then watch this clip, performed by Kurt and Co. and see for yourself!
Tell us what YOU think: Do grunge bands like Nirvana, STP, and Pearl Jam deserve a place on classic rock radio?