Rock Is it kind of surprising that Metallica outsold Nirvana in 1991?

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I understand that Metallica was massive, but that Nirvana album seemed like a much bigger cultural shift and overall moment for the entire decade.

Anyone who was around care to give insight? :lupe:
 

Mike the Executioner

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I wasn't around for that, but my reasoning is Metallica was already an established group while Nirvana was brand new. Metallica had that built-in fanbase, and they deliberately changed their sound to be more radio-friendly and appeal to a wider audience. This was their biggest album yet, their first one to top the Billboard charts. And they had hits right out of the gate. They were hitting their stride in terms of commercial success.

Nirvana came out of nowhere. They could have easily dropped "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and it wouldn't have sold anything. Expectations were low. It became a big cultural moment later on, but it wasn't until the end of 1991 and early 1992 that they became a big deal. It wasn't like that in the beginning when the album dropped. The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video is what started to get them attention.

It happens a lot with newer acts that blow up. It's more of a slow burn. New Kids on the Block was this close to getting dropped from their label and being erased from history when one of their songs just happened to become popular on a radio station in Boston. By the end of the year, they were superstars. Even someone like Michael Jackson, the expectation was that Thriller probably wouldn't sell as much as Off the Wall. And when it came out, it was treated as just another album. Once "Billie Jean" came out and the video got played on MTV, that's when things shifted.
 

Sbp

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I wasn't around for that, but my reasoning is Metallica was already an established group while Nirvana was brand new. Metallica had that built-in fanbase, and they deliberately changed their sound to be more radio-friendly and appeal to a wider audience. This was their biggest album yet, their first one to top the Billboard charts. And they had hits right out of the gate. They were hitting their stride in terms of commercial success.

Nirvana came out of nowhere. They could have easily dropped "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and it wouldn't have sold anything. Expectations were low. It became a big cultural moment later on, but it wasn't until the end of 1991 and early 1992 that they became a big deal. It wasn't like that in the beginning when the album dropped. The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video is what started to get them attention.

It happens a lot with newer acts that blow up. It's more of a slow burn. New Kids on the Block was this close to getting dropped from their label and being erased from history when one of their songs just happened to become popular on a radio station in Boston. By the end of the year, they were superstars. Even someone like Michael Jackson, the expectation was that Thriller probably wouldn't sell as much as Off the Wall. And when it came out, it was treated as just another album. Once "Billie Jean" came out and the video got played on MTV, that's when things shifted.
This is it breh. Metallica spent a decade building a huge loyal ass following and were selling out stadiums already. The Black album was just tge icing on the cake for them.
 

Chip Skylark

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Metallica was basically THEE thrash band of the 80s and some of those fans carried over. I remember Chris Jericho saying once they slowed it down on the black album that sound was more accessible and transferred over to the mainstream
 
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