Kurt Cobain was massively influential as a grunge star in bringing mental health problems into the limelight due to how his own depression pervaded into Nirvana’s song lyrics. Cobain was massively influential in shaping public opinion on grunge rock due to his popularity and became the “posterboy” for the genre. Music therapy has a proven beneficial effect on depression and anxiety and Cobain has provided that in much of his music. In his song “Lithium” he “suffers” a manic-depressive episode that educates his listeners more on the struggles that he and other people are dealing with. Cobain developed a strong relationship with young adults across America by being seen as someone who you can relate to since he was one of few people who spoke on such a sensitive matter in that era.
Cobain’s efforts to spread awareness regarding depression transferred over into this century with works by Foster The People and Kehlani and transcended genre boundaries. Cobain and Kehlani are similar in the sense that both suffer from depressive tendencies and convey that mood in their song while Foster The People primarily made one song and disturbing music video to bring the subject into the limelight. The lyrics to “24/7” is Kehlani’s message to her fans that depression is totally natural and not something to be afraid of. On the other hand, the lyrics to “Pumped Up Kicks” and its diegetic sounds display the absolute horrors of mental health and scare the viewer with the music video. The topic of mental health and its problems obviously extends past just school shootings, but by displaying its ugliest scenario possible sends a powerful message regarding the subject.
Mental health problems can be caused by common life occurrences such as being homesick or missing a lost loved one. For example, Kanye West provided an emotionally-striking performance of “Hey Mama” at the 2008 Grammy Awards that gained popularity on social media following the show. The shift in American thought on mental health problems has drastically changed since Cobain began heavily influencing it with his music and will continue to improve and only become more socially “valid.”