I have to admit that I’m pretty nonplussed by the long-term success of former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. Since the death of Kurt Cobain back in 1994, Grohl has managed to establish himself, with a long string of successful albums and concert tours, as a go-to nice guy in the world of rock. I freely admit I’m kind of bewildered. I thought after his aptly-titled debut hit record “Foo Fighters” that he put out a string of albums each of which would go on to sell less than the one before it till he was left with a core of devoted fans while the masses would move on the next whatever. Or maybe he could have followed some other muse and became a more substantial artist by tapping a bit deeper into his core and actually push some experimental boundaries. Boy was I wrong. I can’t help being mildly bemused about the huge success of a guy who, admittedly drummed and sang backup quite well, but then was able to transform himself into the leader of a multi-platinum selling band after the death of the more creative, but self-destructive Nirvana leader, Kurt Cobain.
What gets me about Grohl’s popularity, and I’ll get right to it, is that I don’t really see any “there” there. His body of music can be summed up as slightly edgy, but formulaic cutesy power-pop. I can’t seem to find anything more to his craft that that. “Monkey Wrench” is a fine example of Grohl’s line list approach to innocuous songwriting. Cutesy name that blends well into a catchy chorus, check. The opening line, “What have we done with innocence,” gets a good and proper rhyme scheme flowing into the power pop verse structure, check. Succinct verse chorus verse structure. Check. Kurt Cobain styled cathartic screaming middle eight bridge section. Check (must maintain some consistency with his old band). Good clean, balanced production where everything blends together perfectly. Check! It’s just so honed and polished to the point of over-glossed banal blandness.
See for yourself.
Even in the video, he can’t help but fall back on his just slightly off every-man, totally inoffensive sense of humor. Notice the cheesy, lounge version of his earlier hit “Big Me” playing in the elevator. You can see how badly he wants his fans to see how affably hip he is, not to mention his sickly sweet and yet ironic sense of humor. I find this to be as artistically provocative as an ice cream sundae with a nice little maraschino cherry on it after church on Sunday. But I suppose he rocks, right?
Yeah. Like Life cereal.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Grohl speaks to the everyman who aspires to be a nice-guy hipster and the girls that want to appreciate them.
Can anyone else explain this guy’s big fan base to me?
Post script: I just found out today (January 14) is Dave Grohl’s birthday. So happy birthday Dave and though I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, keep doin’ what you’re doing.