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#43: "In Bloom," Nirvana







Rank: 43
Artist: Nirvana
Title: In Bloom
Director: Kevin Kerslake
Year: 1992

The Beatles' first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964: one of the great watershed moments of modern popular culture. An hour when, as legend holds, no crimes were reported in America because even the criminals stayed home to watch. It doesn't take much to pay homage to such a moment from our collective memory, as everyone from Billy Joel to Outkast to the Red Hot Chili Peppers has proven over the years. It does, however, take some chutzpah to take that memory and publicly thumb one's nose at it, which is precisely what Nirvana do with "In Bloom." No, it's not even close to the same setting, and Doug Llewellyn is not Ed Sullivan by any stretch, but the long-haired-yet-clean-cut pretty-boy look and the host's repeated assertion that they're "really nice boys" leaves little doubt as to the target. With later viewings, though, we realize that it's not so much the Beatles they're skewering as themselves, their public image, their budding superstardom, and even grunge itself, with their in-drag displays of tongue-in-cheek prop-smashing. What sells it, though, is the art direction, especially the use of vintage television equipment and Kevin Kerslake's inspired decision to use in-the-camera lens shift to cut between Good Nirvana and Evil Nirvana, rather than simple cross-cutting. Nirvana's finest.
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