Gen X-ers: Was it Nirvana or Pearl Jam?

By: Maria Trimarchi
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Heavily-flanneled with unkempt hair, rock that came out of the Pacific Northwest in the early '90s heavily-influenced a generation. And while the “Seattle Sound” – grunge – was taking over, it was also overtaking the metal scene. As the movement emerged it generally centered around the Seattle record label, Sub Pop, with Kurt Cobain, of Nirvana, later being called, "the John Lennon of the swinging Northwest," by Time magazine. When it comes to two of the biggest grunge bands, Nirvana and Pearl Jam, can you tell the difference?

In 1992, MTV misspelled which group's Moon Man award as, "Smells Like Team Spirit"?

"Smells Like Teen Spirit," the opening track on Nirvana's second album, came out in late 1991 -- it reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and is considered the moment when mainstream audiences were turned on to grunge and alternative rock. The MTV Music Video Award awarded to Nirvana for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video was misspelled as, "Team Spirit," though, despite the song's success.

Whose debut album, "Ten," was released in 1991?

Nirvana put out its debut album, "Bleach," on the Seattle record label Sub Pop in June 1989 (and the first major-label album, "Nevermind," in 1991). It would be another two years before Pearl Jam's debut was released, in August 1991.

Who sings, "I don’t know whether I was in the box or in the bag"?

"I don’t know whether I was in the box or in the bag," is a lyric in the Pearl Jam song, 'Yellow Ledbetter," sung by Eddie Vedder. It was the B-side to their hit, "Jeremy," but never appeared on any of the band's original studio albums. It did, finally, appear on the "Lost Dogs" collection.

It was Aaron Burckhard, not Dave Grohl, who was the first drummer for which of these bands?

Although he's the drummer with the longest tenure with the band, Dave Grohl wasn't the first drummer in Nirvana. The band, since 1987, has had five drummers (including Grohl) -- and Aaron Burkhard was the original. He never played on any of the Nirvana albums, although you can hear some of his drumming on some early live recordings included on the "With the Lights Out" box set.

Who sings, "I fell asleep and watched TV," in a song called "Sliver"?

Kurt Cobain once said the song, "Sliver" was "the most ridiculous pop song that [he] had ever written." And that he "wanted to write more songs like that." When the single was released by Sub Pop in 1990 it was only available on 7-inch vinyl in the U.S.

What was Pearl Jam originally known as?

When Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament (on bass), and Stone "Stoney" Gossard (on guitar) first got together, they named themselves after NBA point guard, Daron Oshay "Mookie" Blaylock. It was never meant to be permanent, and when the band started to gain more attention, they changed it to Pearl Jam. (And no, it's not named after Eddie Vedder's grandmother Pearl's hallucinogenic jam.)

Which band covered the songs David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz," and Leadbelly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"

It was Nirvana that covered Shocking Blue's song "Love Buzz" for their debut single, which was released on Sub Pop in 1988 -- and it was also included on their album, "Bleach". They also covered both "The Man Who Sold the World" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" while performing on "MTV Unplugged" in 1993.

Which band is the uncredited backing band on Neil Young's album, "Mirror Ball"?

Pearl Jam were Neil Young's backing band on his 1995 album "Mirror Ball," but because of legal reasons, they couldn't be credited. Instead, check out the album's sleeve notes for individual credits.

Joan Jett and Lorde played with which band during the legendary group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Four women fronted a reunited Nirvana when the legendary grunge rock band performed during the induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014: Joan Jett (on "Smells like Teen Spirit,") Lorde (who sang, "All Apologies,") Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon (singing on "Aneurysm,") and St. Vincent (on "Lithium").

Which band was also formerly known as Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, and Ted Ed Fred before settling on the name we know them as?

Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, the only two original members, lived through all sorts of transitional names like Skid Row, Pen Cap Chew, Bliss, Ted Ed Fred, Drugs for Sale, The Mandibles and more. When the group recorded their first demos in 1988, it was under the name Nirvana.

Who sings the lyric, "At home drawing pictures of mountain tops with him on top"?

"At home drawing pictures of mountain tops with him on top," is a lyric from the Pearl Jam song, "Jeremy," sung by Eddie Vedder. Vedder wrote the lyrics, after reading about a high school student who had shot himself in class.

Who sings the lyric, "I wish I was like you, easily amused"?

"I wish I was like you, easily amused," is part of the lyrics to the Nirvana song, "All Apologies," released in 1993. It's since been added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.

Which of the bands put out just three studio albums while together?

Nirvana has many albums, but only three studio albums: "Bleach" in 1989, "Nevermind" in 1991, and "In Utero" in 1993. Pearl Jam is on the other side of the spectrum, with nearly a dozen studio albums, another dozen live albums, plus singles, EPs and compilation albums. And then there are the official bootlegs, of which there are hundreds.

Which band's biggest mainstream hit was a cover of the song, "Last Kiss"?

Originally released in 1961 and popularized by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers in 1964, Pearl Jam's cover of "Last Kiss" was what became their biggest hit with mainstream audiences -- it hit No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999. It is on the group's "Lost Dogs" album, and it's also included on "No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees," to help raise money for Kosovars in 1999.

When their band appeared on "Headbanger's Ball," which frontman wore a yellow gown?

Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic appeared on Headbanger’s Ball in 1991, for a 10-minute interview with MTV host Rikki Rachtman. Cobain wore a yellow ballgown for the occasion, because, as he said at the time, “It’s a headbanger’s ball, so I thought I’d wear a gown."

Which band was accused of plagiarism in the songs, "Negative Creep" and "Come as You Are"?

The chorus to Nirvana's song, "Negative Creep," goes, "Daddy's little girl ain't a girl no more" -- which is very similar to Mudhoney's song, "Sweet Young Thing Ain't Sweet No More." Later, the band, let's say, "borrowed heavily" from the guitar riff in the 1984 song "Eighties," by Killing Joke, when writing "Come as You Are" -- and although Killing Joke noticed the similarities, they didn't file a lawsuit.

Which band's frontman grew up surfing in Southern California?

Eddie Vedder was 12 years old when he surfed his first wave, at Doheny Beach in Southern California. Unlike many in the Seattle scene, Vedder grew up in and around San Diego, California.

"I'm spinning, how quick the sun can drop away," is a lyric from a song on which band's debut album?

"I'm spinning, how quick the sun can drop away," are lyrics from the song, "Black," sung by Eddie Vedder. It was released on Pearl Jam's album, "Ten." Baseball pitcher Bronson Arroyo recorded the song in 2005 for the album, "Covering the Bases."

Which songs are part of Pearl Jam's "mini opera," called "Mamasan"?

Eddie Vedder has been quoted saying that "Alive," "Once," and "Footsteps" are a trilogy -- a "mini opera" called "Mamasan." The story follows a boy whose father dies in "Alive," who then becomes a serial killer in "Once," and is executed in "Footsteps."

Which band almost named their first major-label album, "Sheep"?

Nirvana's first major-label release, "Nevermind," was almost named, "Sheep." Krist Novoselic explained, "We were thinking about calling it 'Sheep' because we were so cynical."

Which band's first mainstream album knocked the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, out of the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200?

Nirvana's "Nevermind" knocked Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" off of the top of the chart in 1992. Nirvana would then later be bumped out of No. 1 by Garth Brooks.

Which band, known for their environmental advocacy and activism, received the Planet Defender Award?

The Colorado-based organization Rock The Earth honored Pearl Jam with the 2011 Planet Defender Award for their environmental advocacy efforts. The band has a carbon-neutral policy, and also donates to organizations focused on climate change and renewable energy.

Which band is introduced as, "thoroughly all right and decent fellas," in their music video for the song, "In Bloom"?

Nirvana's music video for "In Bloom" is a parody musical performance of bands on variety shows, like "The Ed Sullivan Show," in the early 1960s. To make it more authentic-looking, it's shot on old Kinescope cameras.

Which band's frontman was a vocal critic of the other band, calling them "corporate pop rockers"?

Although Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder slow-danced to Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, things weren't always so light-hearted between them. Cobain criticized Pearl Jam for being sellouts and "corporate pop rockers."

Who sings the lyric, "Thoughts arrive like butterflies, oh, he don't know, so he chases them away"?

It's Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder who wrote and sings, "Thoughts arrive like butterflies, oh, he don't know, so he chases them away," in the song, "Even Flow." Included on the band's debut album, "Ten," "Even Flow" was the second single released, in 1992.

Who was married to Courtney Love?

Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and Hole's Courtney Love's relationship was a whirlwind, and during a tour stop in Hawaii in January 1992, the two married on the beach in Honolulu. The pair were expecting daughter Frances Bean, who was born in August that year.

Weird Al Yankovic has played fun with both Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but the song "My Baby's in Love With Eddie Vedder" is a parody of which band?

It was Weird Al Yankovic who created a parody of the Nirvana song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which he called, "Smells Like Nirvana." Yankovic later sang a Pearl Jam parody -- with Eddie Vedder -- called, "My Baby's in Love With Eddie Vedder."

Which band's lead singer collaborated on a piece with William S. Burroughs?

Nirvana's Kurt Cobain collaborated with American writer and Beat Generation figure William S. Burroughs on "The 'Priest' They Called Him" -- Burroughs, on spoken word, and Cobain backing him on guitar. The experimental piece was released in 1993.

Which group invited all five of their drummers, current and former, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony?

Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, Dave Abbruzzese and Jack Irons were all invited to join Pearl Jam's longtime drummer, Matt Cameron, and the rest of the band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. To his surprise, former drummer Dave Krusen was inducted along with the current members of the group.

Who appeared as members of a fictional rock band in the Cameron Crowe movie, "Singles"?

Bassist Jeff Ament, guitarist Stone Gossard and vocalist Eddie Vedder appeared together as a fictional rock band named Citizen Dick, with lead singer, Cliff, played by actor Matt Dillon. Cliff doesn't "like to reduce [the band] to just being part of the 'Seattle Sound.' I'd like to think of us as expanding more. Like, we're huge in Europe right now. I mean, we've got records ... a big record just broke in Belgium."

Which drummer went on to front his own band, the Foo Fighters?

Not looking for a solo career after Nirvana dissolved, drummer Dave Grohl founded the rock band Foo Fighters in 1994. After writing and playing all instruments on the debut studio album, "Foo Fighters," Grohl recruited guitarist Pat Smear, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith. Today, the lineup includes Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel and Pat Smear, as well as Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett and Rami Jaffee.

Which band was thrown out of their own record release party?

A record release party thrown at the Rebar in Seattle got out of hand when the band started a food fight. All three members of Nirvana -- Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl -- were all shown the door.

Which of these songs was officially released in three different versions -- while the band was still together?

There are a few different versions of Nirvana's song, "Been a Son," and that doesn't include the cover by the Manic Street Preachers. It was written by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic.

Is it the founding member and bassist of Nirvana or of Pearl Jam who is the average height of an NBA -- 6'7"?

Krist Novoselic, bassist and founding member of Nirvana, once started a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band with friend Kurt Cobain. Oh, and he is 6'7" tall.

The frontman of which band committed suicide at his home in April 1994?

Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden), Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains) and sadly many others from the early grunge movement are no longer with us. It was Cobain, though, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in 1994.

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