Nirvana Refused 1992 ‘Singles’ Movie to Avoid a Bad Rock Film – Turns out It Was a Love Story

The 1992 Gen X reflection film Singles packed some of the best emerging grunge artists into the forefront, which included Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, but breakout band Nirvana was MIA.

Nirvana wasn’t blown off – they simply didn’t want to participate in the film, citing that no good movies about rock and roll existed. “We opted not to delve in the movie industry,” Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl said in a throwback interview, adding that the band wanted to avoid being in a bad rock film.

And while Nirvana didn’t want to participate, frontman Kurt Cobain claimed filmmakers snuck in a few bars of their anthem, “Come As You Are” into the film.

After the film’s release, Grohl later realized that Singles was more of a love story and not the bad rock film they wanted to avoid.

Nirvana was not in ‘Singles’ but a song was in the film?

In the same interview, bassist Krist Novoselic dove further into why Nirvana was a “no” for the film. “I saw Cotton Candy directed by Ron Howard and it was about this rock and roll band,” he recalled. “And what was the evil rock and roll band name?”

Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Kirst Novoselic of Nirvana turned down 'Singles' and played at the MTV Music Awards
Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Kirst Novoselic of Nirvana |Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Cobain replied, “Something with Leif Garrett in it?” He added, “I’ve seen all these rock and roll movies and it’s always the star … it’s either Leif Garrett or there’s never really been a really good documentary on rock and roll bands.”

But in another interview, Cobain said filmmakers actually took a soundbite from “Come As You Are” for the movie. “Instead they hired some cover band and did one of our songs,” he said. “So we have no choice but to be part of the Singles family.” The song isn’t on the soundtrack but the band said the song is in the movie. “At least that’s why I heard through the rumor mill.”

Dave Grohl said the film was actually a love story

As Nirvana reflected on Singles, Grohl said people told him it was more of a love story and not a rock film. “Apparently everyone’s that seen it has pretty much said it’s basically a love story,” he said. “And it’s a love story that takes place in Seattle.” Cobain joked, “It’s a rock and roll movie with heart.”

So while the band thought they dodged a bullet with Singles, they did end up identifying rock and roll films they actually did like. “Except Spinal Tap was the only rock and roll movie worth watching,” Grohl replied. Spinal Tap was a mockumentary about a heavy metal English group’s album launch in the US.

Kurt Cobain said ‘no’ to ‘Singles before telling the rest of ‘Nirvana’

Filmmaker Cameron Crowe really wanted a Nirvana song in the film. He hoped to include Nirvana’s “Imodium” and started working on the idea with Cobain leading up to the film’s release. Crowe told Rolling Stone he heard Cobain snuck into the movie theater during the premiere and loved the notion that Cobain viewed the film.

Cobain said he turned down Singles before consulting with the rest of the band. “Yeah, they asked John,” he said. “I said no before even asking you guys. That’s because I’m the leader of the band.”

Novoselic joked, “You blew my chance! I’m gonna roll into Hollywood. I’m gonna have a star on Hollywood Boulevard. And I’m gonna have a big house with a swimming pool …”

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