Originally Posted by M2
CDs were already mainstream by that time. Had been for about 5 years.
And the music video popped in the early '80s.
But Nirvana, more than any other band, provided a generational call to arms. Nevermind was Gen X's calling card. It was a behind-the-scenes generation until that point. After that, music, movies and pop culture began to change rapidly. I'd argue that Gen X feeling that it had arrived in some measure helped swing the 1992 Presidential election. A lot of young people who might have sat on the sidelines instead got out and voted. The workplace even got altered (notably many companies became a lot less buttoned up).
CD's were out but tapes were also around. IIRC tapes still had a strong influence on the music world but soon went the way of the dinosaur. There was still a large part of the population that hadn't bought into CD's yet. Something similar to DVD and VHS. 5 years after DVD's were released VHS tapes were still in every store and still were being sold.
Music video's were around but that doesn't mean they were popular. Smells Like Teen Spirt was one of the video's that changed the music video. Right around this time MTV was huge in showing music video's. IMO Smells Like Teen Spirit got Gen X into watching MTV and the music video. It became the song for anyone in Jr High, High School, and maybe College but I was too young to know.
IMO this album became the calling card of an entire generation. It more than anything changed the type of music I have listened to. To be honest I haven't listened to a Nirvana song or album in years but I still consider that to be one of my favorite albums.
Kurt Cobain was such an influential musician that he was voted artist of the decade by Rolling Stone but didn't even live for half of the 90's. While you can say that his downward spiral may have prohibited him from creating anything great he had a way to get it done. He just had a way of producing music for the masses. Nirvana's MTV Live CD was another great success.