Billy Corgan: Pitchfork Would Stifle Nirvana Today

No: this isn’t about piracy, media oversaturation, Spotify payouts, or tiny attention spans.

Rather, it’s about the scenes that currently surround music, and their inability to let their artists flourish beyond their walls.

Like, Pitchfork. “If you’re 20 years old and you aspire to be like me or Kurt Cobain or Courtney Love or Trent Reznor, you’re not going to make it that way. You won’t succeed,” Corgan just told the Daily Beast.

“Let’s say you’re the next Kurt Cobain. You will be appropriated on your first album by the Pitchfork community.  Your record company will rally round that idea because that’s your marketing platform.  But the minute you’re in that world you’re frozen.”

In other words, Pitchfork and its surrounding indie scene has become so substantial, yet so self-contained, that broader mainstream appeal is simply impossible according to Corgan.  “Guns N’ Roses did it. The Beatles did it. That’s where the critical mass of subversion comes in.  Now you have a big enough indie culture to support itself.  But it’s kind of like when you walk into the cool coffee house and you don’t belong and everybody looks at you funny.  It becomes a scene unto itself.”

Corgan sees Pitchfork culture devolving into something as uniform and suffocating as the mainstream cultures it once defied.  You can’t break away from it; you’re defined by it.  “Those Pitchfork people are very much about social codes, very much about whether or not you’re wearing the right t-shirt.  That orthodoxy is no different than the rigidity of the football team at school.”

Is that all that’s going on here?  The question of whether ‘another Beatles’ is possible has been floating around for nearly a decade.  And there are other factors limiting growth, including, paradoxically, the complete breakdown of barriers between the artist and fan and the oversaturation that results.  But the cultural aspects may be just as important.

“You’ve got to want to subvert the social order of the high school. That’s why Nirvana was so fucking dangerous. They had the jocks listening to them. Kurt Cobain used to talk about how weird it was to be performing and look out into the crowd to see the people who used to beat him up cheering along.”

21 Responses

  1. MAC

    he’s not entirely wrong here, but this reeks of “they gave my last album a 6.3”.

  2. RT

    Cobain still speaks??

    “…Cobain just told the Daily Beast.”

  3. CC

    He’s right, but it’s not just about Pitchfork. Audiences have fractured because so much more choice is available.

    • Myles na Gopaleen

      Yes every genre of music has it’s insular group of fans based on a set of rules and requirements to become a member of the “club.”

      Most denigrate and deride all non-members of the “club” and any artist or “club” member that doesn’t follow the rules will be purged.

      However, occasionally someone who has been a long term member of the “cliub” and has an influential opinion will deem that it is OK to like certain artists who would normally be shunned.

      The clever pop artist from whatever genre knows how to play this game to their advantage. It appears that lately Billy C has had difficulty playing this game and has chosen to whine about it after being so successful at it for years.

      Boo Hoo

  4. Just Stop





  5. QSDC

    That’s actually a lot higher than they gave the last SP album.

    Corgan’s resentment towards “hipsters” goes way back to the early SP days, in the Chicago music scene, when they were first ignored by the cool kids and later loathed for their mainstream success.

    • Central Scrutinizer

      Yes, just ask Liz Phair, Urge Overkill and the whole industrial scene

  6. Ken

    Pitchfork is a synonym for the nascent hipster mainstream. Pitchfork has become the status-quo, through the appropriation of creative ideas from the artistic-underclasses. The pitchfork community has become the intrinsically corporate antithesis to the idea of subversiveness itself.

    • REV

      Yeah Billy hasn’t had much of worth spill through his lips in a while but this shit is true. Revenge of the Nerds. They are going to get everyone back and twice as bad as they were done. Gross.

      New Bully is the one dressed to get beat up.

  7. JSS

    Rather than pick on Billy because it’s hip to give 90’s acts sh*t, we should credit him for making a valid point. Pitchfork is one of many ‘scenes’ that seem like a boon at the outset but become a millstone over time. These scenes become islands unto themselves. That doesn’t help the artist reach a larger audience.

  8. warrenpease

    Just don’t read pitchfork or participate in that world.

  9. Visitor

    When I read stuff like this all i think about is….”Kids these days…blah blah.” I see the point he is trying to make but it is so outdated. Pitchfork is not the end all be all, in fact…. I have maybe been on pitchfork once. Lets not forget that the Beatles got big from singing “I want to hold your hand”, not Sgt. Peppers. They were picked up because they made girls Scream and Cream and then after time were able to explore their artistic side. You can compare Pitchfork to Teen Beat or Circus Magazine back in the day, kids are always bound by trends and then excluded if they don’t bow to those trends…. that is in fact where Grunge came from until it itself became its own trend.

    I mean isnt it obvious that i you try to “make it that way” you wont? Times change, media and medium change (AM-FM-Sirius-Podcast…. Record-Tape-CD-Digital). Artists still blow up and get huge every day, but the beauty is we get so much more art, so much more diversity and its all because we have access…. whereas before the access was controlled by lables and packaged in little plastic boxes and sold to us at $15 a pop.

    Billy? who the fuck hangs out a Coffee shops anymore? and they are not looking at you cause your not wearing the right T-shirt… they are looking at you cause your famous

  10. Simon Jones

    I comletely agree! It makes total sense to me. I have witnessed it happen and thought similar. It’s sad.