Is Nirvana punk?

Unlike Ivanka Trump — a White House adviser who also happens to be the president’s daughter — I never really had a Nirvana phase. I became a teen in the 2000s, so they were a little before my time, but many of my friends love that one song about smelling like a high school gym, so I’m sure I missed out on something while memorizing Fall Out Boy songs.

Maybe that’s why I was confused by the following quote from the first daughter, excerpted from “Raising Trump,” a new memoir from Trump’s mother Ivana:

During my punk phase in the nineties, I was really into Nirvana. My wardrobe consisted of ripped corduroy jeans and flannel shirts. One day after school, I dyed my hair blue. Mom wasn’t a fan of this decision. She took one look at me and immediately went out to the nearest drugstore to buy a $10 box of Nice’n Easy. That night, she forced me to dye my hair back to blond. The color she picked out was actually three shades lighter than my natural color… and I have never looked back!

This passage raises several questions — Are corduroys technically “jeans”? Didn’t every ’90s teen wear flannel? — but the most important concerns Trump’s characterization of Nirvana. She describes Kurt Cobain’s band as “punk.”

I was under the impression that Nirvana was a “grunge” band. Catchy gravel-voiced soft metal with a punk vibe, perhaps. Desperate to understand the first family’s pop canonization, I asked my colleague Maggie for her thoughts. “I think they had elements of punk and were inspired by punk,” she wrote in Slack. “Dave Grohl was a drummer in DC hardcore bands. But do i think nirvana is a punk band? No.”

I also consulted popular music critic, Yahoo Answers. Eight years ago, James M. wrote:

Depends what you call punk rock i suppose. They had the punk ethos,i.e. anybody can be in a band,and they had ‘paid their dues’ by gigging round America and Europe as support bands. That all changed with their signing to Geffen.Big budget videos,a glossy over produced album,etc etc.Money and fame had a negative effect on the band. It enabled Kurt to fund his drug addiction and he was caught up in the whole ‘Kurt n Courtney’ roadshow.  With their last album,’In Utero’, they had returned to their original punk roots.The songs were harsher and angrier and they sounded like a real band again. That said,they did bow down to record company influence and let another radio friendly producer remix two songs-Heart Shaped Box & All Apologies,which just happened to be the singles released from it. That’s not much of a Punk Rock attitude to have is it?

Hmm. Interesting. It sounds like Trump is wrong about Nirvana being punk. Do you think so?

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[h/t: The Cut | photos: AP]