But, being a true 90s kid, I sang along to this hit commercial jingle. I remember this song now because, well, my sister asked me if I still remember the words to it. I did. So, we sang. And that reminded me how much I loved that song. It was a true anthem as commercial jingles go, that and the Nano-Nano* song. But while the Nano-Nano song was pure J-pop, senseless and effervescent, the Chicken Nuggets song derived its ethos from… grunge. Yes, grunge. As in Smells Like Teenage Spirit, Jeremy (spoke in class today—those who grew up to this song know that you can’t say the title without plunging into the whole chorus. You can’t just say, “My favorite Pearl Jam song is Jeremy.” You say, “My favorite Pearl Jam song is Jeremy… spoke in cla-a-ass toda-aayy!!!” you end up bellowing like Eddie Vedder. Try it.), Spoonman, and Would. Ah, grunge. The movement I never really followed, being still hung up on 80s metal and loving Britpop, until Jerry Cantrell, Alice In Chains guitarist and my personal rock god, caught my fancy.
But back to the theory, that the Chicken Nuggets jingle reflected grunge philosophy. This is, admittedly, a controversial statement. Well, assuming, of course, that enough people who: 1) are 90s kids; and 2) loved grunge; and 3) know this song; 4) will actually read this post; 5) have enough time to form an opinion about commercial jingles vis-à-vis movements in rock music; and 6) be inclined to do so. Whew! I seem to have made a whole load of assumptions there. If this were a dissertation, I’d probably flunk defense.
Anyway, to study the Nuggets-Grunge connection, consider these words…
It's not easy to be a nugget
You look like all nuggets do
They don’t know what really matters is what’s inside of you
I’m a Purefoods Chicken Nugget
More chicken under my shell
A chunky, juicy, chicken delight
In every nugget bite.
The line, “I’m a Purefoods Chicken Nugget,” is a defiant assertion of identity and individuality, kind of like “I’m the man in a box” (AIC, 1990). The first three lines are angst-filled, an existential lament for the sorry fact of form superseding substance (check out the video for Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun), with reference to a disembodied force, They, that demands conformity and shuns uniqueness. Uniqueness, you may recall, was something all grungers either aspired to or already fancied themselves as having. To be set apart, to exist outside the mainstream… and sell millions doing so. The last four lines, at first glance, seem too cheerful and optimistic, too self-assured to be grunge. But I prefer to see them as a credible exercise in irony and tongue-in-cheek humor. What’s grunge about that, you ask? Was Kurt Cobain ever tongue-in-cheek? Were Alice in Chains ever light-hearted? Did Eddie Vedder ever laugh? Yes, yes, and… hmm… maybe not. For tongue-in-cheek Nirvana, check out In Bloom. For light-hearted AIC, there’s an audio file out there of Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney doing a brilliant rendition of Disco Inferno. They laugh at the end of it. As for Eddie Vedder laughing… Ah, I confess I’m not quite sure. Not that I’m an expert on the guy. All I remember about him was watching PJ receive an MTV award and, in lieu of a thank you speech, Eddie ranting about how phony awards are. So forgive me if I think the guy’s way too serious.
That’s the theory. It’s not much. It probably won’t stand up to rigorous hypothesis-testing. Oh, let’s face it. It won’t even get past first reading. No one’s going to award me a Doctor of Arts or a Ph.D. for this one.
Hmm, maybe a Master’s.
* Nano, nano, nano, nano…
Oh, Nano-Nano, you make me happy
I really love what you do to me
Sweet, sour, and salty