Grunge music has what has been called an "ugly" aesthetic, both in the roar of the distorted electric guitars and in the darker lyrical topics.

This approach was chosen both to counter the "slick" elegant sound of the then-predominant mainstream rock and because grunge artists wanted to mirror the "ugliness" they saw around them and shine a light on unseen "depths and depravity" of the real world.

state of Washington, particularly in Seattle and nearby towns.

By the early 1990s its popularity had spread, with grunge bands appearing in California, then emerging in other parts of the United States and in Australia, building strong followings and signing major record deals.

Like these genres, grunge typically uses electric guitar, bass guitar, a drummer and a singer.

Grunge also incorporates influences from indie rock bands such as Sonic Youth.

The use of pedals by grunge guitarists was a move away from the expensive, studio-grade rackmount effects units used in other rock genres.

The positive way that grunge bands viewed stompbox pedals can be seen in Mudhoney's use of the name of two overdrive pedals, the Univox Super-Fuzz and the Big Muff, in the title of their "debut EP Superfuzz Bigmuff".

Lyrics are typically angst-filled and introspective, often addressing themes such as social alienation, apathy, concerns about confinement, and a desire for freedom.

A number of factors contributed to grunge's decline in prominence.

Some key individuals in the development of the grunge sound, including Sub Pop producer Jack Endino and the Melvins, explained grunge's incorporation of heavy rock influences such as Kiss as "musical provocation".