By Emma Carlton
Twenty years ago, the Washington-based grunge band Nirvana released their iconic album “In Utero,” which invoked more raw emotion than their previous albums. The band gained commercial success with their album “Nevermind,” which many consider to be what propelled grunge into the mainstream spotlight. The sound Nirvana achieved for “In Utero” was more visceral and less commercially produced, but also was more mature than their previous work. Instead of writing about teen angst, this album focused on larger societal issues like drug abuse, depression, and fatherhood. The album was well-received amongst the band members’ friends, but many record company executives believed the sound unpolished. What they were looking for was another surefire hit like “Nevermind,” but lead singer Kurt Cobain stated that he would rather die than compromise his artistic integrity. They used unusual recording methods, such as placing 30 microphones around the drum set to give it a more sporadic sound. “In Utero” was the band’s last studio recorded album. It was released on September 13, 1993, 6 months before Kurt Cobain’s suicide. His intense vocals are indicative of his distraught mental state. In the song “Rape Me,” Cobain describes his distaste for the way the media leached onto him and dissected his personal life at every turn. The song has the same opening rift as their most famous song, “Smells like Teen Spirit.” The name itself suggests a need to flee from the spotlight to the safety of the womb. “In Utero” has since been certified five times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and received countless other accolades. This is somewhat ironic considering the album’s main theme was Cobain’s inner struggle with the fame and notoriety he garnered. The difference in musical style from “Nevermind” to “In Utero” could be compared to the evolution of the Beatles from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “The White Album.” It was more experimental, and they were not concerned with mass appeal. Its chorus is organic, crude, natural, and everything that they had been holding back in their previous albums.