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The Phenomena of the 27th Club and Its Icons, Thesis Paper Example

Pages: 39

Words: 10627

Thesis Paper

Chapter 1, Introduction

1.1  Problem statement

Musical talent is a desirable quality among singers and music educators in the music industry. Musicians’ musical careers are influenced by their upbringing and emotional connections to their environment (Kemp 2). The music environment influences musicians’ experiences in learning and recording songs. The environment sensitizes musicians about different topics that they incorporate into music. Most musicians are coached by musical teachers who enable them to understand musical features such as timbre and melody (Jääskeläinen 2). Musicians succeed in their careers through intrinsic motivators that enable them to record engaging music. Listeners’ tastes are influenced by melodies and musical styles, which influence their musical tastes. Technology has modernized music consumption through modern gateways where musicians perform while listeners consume their music. YouTube is an example of a modern gateway facilitating musical consumption among listeners (Shuler and Shuler 23). Modern gateways for music listening facilitate positive development among musicians enabling them to connect with listeners and musical audiences.

Poor talent management is a general problem among musicians hindering them from using musical skills to inspire different generations. For example, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse were notable musicians with incredible talents before their premature deaths (Foster and Keane 76). Events leading to these musicians’ death have been controversial, considering they had succeeded in the music industry. Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths have been extensively researched by reporters, researchers, and educators aiming to understand their occurrences. This thesis builds a problem statement from Cobain and Winehouse’s musical progress to discuss how unexpected events ruin musicians’ careers. Cobain and Winehouse succeeded by devoting themselves to their craft, recording engaging music, and connecting with their audiences (Davies 653). However, these musicians’ career developments were short-lived due to their sudden deaths contributing to their designation as 27-Club icons. Musicians can prosper in their careers by avoiding substance use and accessing preventive interventions to ensure they are not influenced by drugs spread through pop culture.

1.2  Background about Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse

1.2.1 Kurt Cobain

Cobain was a Nirvana lead singer whose musical abilities, such as guitaring and songwriting, enhanced his celebrity status. Ningthoujam notes, “Kurt Cobain was born on Feb. 20, 1967, in Aberdeen, Washington, to Donald and Wendy Cobain” (9). The author indicates that Cobain’s music career began in childhood as he was passionate about music. However, Cobain was rebellious due to his parent’s divorce in 1975, which affected his mental and psychological well-being. Cobain’s musical development began when he was 14, owing to his birthday gift, a guitar. Cobain’s uncle gifted Cobain a guitar that he used to play popular songs during the 1980s. Through the guitar received during his 14thbirthday, Cobain also began practicing music sessions, enhancing his musical development. For instance, Cobain met Krist Novoselic and partnered with other artists to establish the Nirvana US band (Ningthoujam 10). Cobain was a talented musician, and through the Nirvana US band, he immensely contributed to the music industry through creativity to become a fan favorite.

Cobain’s early performances were punk rock which he performed in different US states. Cobain was an American and a lead singer under Nirvana US band (Cascelli and Condon 79). Cobain’s geographical location contributed to his music breakthrough in the American music industry. Cobain was a songwriter and a guitarist, as rock was his genre. Cobain’s persona was linked to the rock genre through his dressing and behaviors (Frederick 1). Cobain was creative, and his compositions enabled Nirvana to succeed in the mainstream rock through creativity and artistic vision. For example, Nirvana’s album Nevermind enhanced the band’s international popularity among musical audiences. Cobain’s music breakthrough in 1989 and his Oregon performance enabled him to meet Courtney Love, who later became his wife (Ningthoujam 10). Cobain and his partner bonded through mutual affection and drug abuse. Cobain had abused drugs such as marijuana and heroin since the early 1980s (Ningthoujam 10). Constant drug abuse led to addiction which hindered Cobain from sustaining his career development.

Deviant leisure is a scholarly term used among scholars to refer to Cobain’s musical career. According to Harmon, Cobain tremendously impacted the music industry through rock music but died at 27 due to a drug overdose (6). Cobain was a rock icon whose reputation has been constantly associated with the Rock n’ Roll culture, which requires musicians to adopt behaviors associated with it. For example, Cobain was a rock star whose persona enhanced his performances. Cobain challenged and defied public expectations as he wanted to appeal to his musical audiences through deviance. Cobain’s musical career was alluring, but he struggled with drug addiction. Cobain commanded great influence among musical audiences during his generation as his persona and craft were linked to the Rock n’ Roll culture. Although drug addiction was Cobain’s admired symbol among musical audiences, his scandalous led to his death due to drug abuse. Drug addiction contributed to Cobain’s tragic life resulting in the failure of his musical career.

Cobain’s success was brief as he was a drug addict that deteriorated his health leading to his death in 1994. Cobain was a 27-Club icon and a music idol among fans, although he abused drugs at a young age (Davies 653). In the author’s view, drug use and addiction are influenced by one’s psychological status and surrounding conditions. These factors could have influenced Cobain’s drug use resulting in health problems and the musician’s death. Cobain abused cocaine and cannabis, which deteriorated his health due to overdose. Drug usage contributes to substance use problems that hinder musicians from enhancing career growth. Cobain’s rise and downfall as a rock star reveal how drug abuse can hinder career growth. Cobain abused drugs contributing to abusive behaviors that deterred his career progress before his demise in 1994. Cobain was a doomed rock star and a tragic figure who failed to manage his drug addiction problem, which contributed to his demise.

Scholars and actors have dramatized Cobain’s life and death through popular press and scholarly works. The public’s fascination with Cobain’s life is attributed to the musician’s musical success and tragic death due to suicide (Ziek and Pantic 22). Cobain’s musical lyrics represented his societal views through metaphors linked to human freedom and drugs. For example, The Man Who Sold the World is Cobain’s song depicting his lifestyle through his dressing. Cobain’s songs had narratives that revolved around drug abuse and freedom. Cobain’s songs and principles impacted Generation X, whose image is immortalized through art paintings and merchandise. For example, Aberdeen park in the US has Cobain’s paintings which attract teen customers (Ziek and Pantic 22). Cobain appealed to youthful audiences through his performance style. Yet, his death defamed his celebrity persona as he had committed suicide (Ziek and Pantic 23). Cobain’s music is still popular among musical audiences despite the musician’s performance style that entailed social and public criticism.

1.2.2 Amy Winehouse

Celebrity is a historical phenomenon enshrined in society, culture, and media. Winehouse is one of the celebrities who immensely influenced the celebrity culture. As Andò and Redmond note, celebrities have become increasingly active in influencing their audiences through official discourses such as media streams (2). Winehouse was a celebrity whose celebrity-building process successfully appealed to her audiences through music and character. Winehouse’s biography indicates that she was born on 1983 in Southgate, London (Ningthoujam 2). Since childhood, Winehouse was enthusiastic about music and fame. Winehouse’s participatory role in building her celebrity status and appealing to audiences began in childhood. For example, Winehouse first recorded R&B and Soul music when she was 9. Owing to digitalization, whose advancements have been massive, Winehouse began appealing to musical audiences through electronic media. Winehouse was 9 when she became active in the music industry to overcome childhood traumas linked to her parent’s separation.

Winehouse’s biography reveals that she attended a music school during childhood to learn about the music industry. Winehouse was British, whose contributions to the music industry entailed songwriting and singing (Cascelli and Condon 79). Unlike other musicians, Winehouse became famous as an English singer due to her vocals. For instance, Winehouse’s contralto vocals enabled her to succeed in soul and jazz genres. Winehouse was talented, enabling her to succeed in the music industry since childhood. Winehouse was first recruited into music school during childhood, enrolling at Sylvia Young Theater School (Ningthoujam 2). However, Winehouse did not graduate from Sylvia Young Theater School as she was rowdy and disregarded general glooming rules. Winehouse was expelled from the theater school, but she had learned about stage performance. Sylvia Young Theater School enhanced Winehouse’s musical ability, contributing to her musical success in 2003.

Effective talent management benefitted Winehouse when she first succeeded in the music industry in 2003. Nick Shymansky was Winehouse’s manager who nurtured and enabled her to perform in different genres (Cascelli and Condon 80). Winehouse was a talented musician; through her vocals, she recorded jazz and soul music that made her famous. Before Winehouse’s expulsion from music school, she exhibited advanced musical abilities. For example, Winehouse was a talented lyricist with an evocative voice. Winehouse’s musical abilities had enabled her to be recruited into music school, but she was expelled for being rebellious. Winehouse had first succeeded in the British music industry in 2003, but she had previously performed in jazz bands and orchestras after her expulsion from music school. Winehouse first performed in public jazz bands when she was 16 (Ningthoujam 2). Public jazz bands and orchestras enhanced Winehouse’s musical ability, contributing to her breakthrough in 2003.

Frank (2003) was Winehouse’s breakthrough album after James Taylor discovered her musical talent. However, Winehouse’s second album, Back to Black, was criticized due to its rebellious lyrics (Ningthoujam 2). Although Winehouse was constantly criticized for her rebellious lyrics that violated popular music’s dogma, she received accolades for her musical talent. For example, Winehouse was awarded the Ivor Novello Songwriting Award in 2003 due to her Frank (2003) Album (Ningthoujam 2). Winehouse’s songs also received international accolades as her musical talent was similar to previous jazz great artists. Back to Black album enhanced Winehouse’s celebrity status as it was a chart-topping album in 2007. Winehouse had succeeded in music composition as her songs were widely consumed. However, Winehouse became a drug addict when she became a popular celebrity in the musical world. This accelerated her career failure as Winehouse became unfocused when recording music and maintaining her fan base.

Winehouse’s commercial success has been widely criticized due to drug addiction, which deterred her career development. Winehouse could not manage drug and substance-abuse problems leading to her death in 2011 (Gross and Musgrave 3). Winehouse had immensely impacted UK’s music industry through her talent. However, Winehouse developed health problems linked to drug addiction. The music industry has often been considered suitable for pleasure and enjoyment. Yet, musicians who disregard self-actualization and self-expression end up struggling in their careers. This is evident through Winehouse’s career progress, which was short-lived as drug addiction deteriorated her health. Winehouse’s death evoked criticism of the musician’s lifestyle as she failed to overcome her drug addiction resulting in her death. In 2011, Winehouse suffered health problems due to alcohol poisoning (Gross and Musgrave 2). Winehouse’s drug abuse led to self-destruction and death in 2011, ending the musician’s stardom in the music industry. This, in turn, evoked criticism of Winehouse’s career and contributions to the UK music industry.

Winehouse’s death was a surprise scenario that is still memorable, although she died in the past. Unlike Michael Jackson, whose death was not surprising, Winehouse’s death was shocking as she died when her career peaked. According to Ningthoujam, Winehouse’s last public appearance was in 2011, after her dreadful performance in Serbia (5). Winehouse’s stance on drug use and rowdy public behaviors after realizing musical success denigrated her reputation. Winehouse had succeeded as she was talented, and this contributed to her iconicity. Winehouse also enhanced her public displays through vocals that sustained her celebrity status. Yet, Winehouse failed to sustain her iconic status as drug addiction led to her fast demise. Winehouse’s death evoked surprise and memorability among musical audiences that disbelieved the situations leading to her demise (Foster and Keane 76). As a result, Winehouse’s career development is at the center of musical discussions and criticism to ensure musicians do not emulate immoral behaviors and habits that resulted in her downfall.

1.3  Purpose of the study

This study aims to investigate Cobain and Winehouse’s lives to determine the causal link between their death and musical careers. Cobain and Winehouse were iconic musicians in the US and UK music industries. However, these musicians failed to sustain their career developments due to drug addiction, which led to their deaths. Past studies indicate that Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths resulted from drug addiction. In order to explore the literature to ascertain whether drug addiction is linked to Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths, this study’s nature is explorative. This study explores Cobain and Winehouse’s career development to establish how drug and substance abuse contributed to their professional downfall and demise.

1.4 Research questions

This thesis aims at providing a research-based understanding of the circumstances leading to the death of Cobain and Winehouse. In order to realize the aim/purpose, this thesis focuses on one research question about Cobain and Winehouse, which is anchored by three sub-questions.

Research Question: Did pop culture negatively influence Cobain and Winehouse, necessitating the musicians to engage in extreme drug usage resulting in overdose crises and deaths?

Three sub-questions that are useful in answering the research question include:

  1. How does pop culture contribute to the drug use crisis among young musicians?
  2. Is drug addiction the causal factor leading to Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths?
  3. How have the deaths of Cobain and Winehouse influenced present-day musicians and musical audiences?     

Chapter 2, Literature Review

2.1 Brief introduction about the topic and problem statement

The problem statement about how drug usage ruined Cobain and Winehouse’s career developments is extensively discussed in this section. Winehouse and Cobain were talented musicians with enormous influence among musical audiences. Although Winehouse emerged in the music world after Cobain’s death, she also had a musical appeal among musical audiences. Cobain and Winehouse are 27-Club icons as their deaths occurred when they were 27. Associating Cobain and Winehouse to the 27-Club enables musical audiences to recognize their celebrity lives and their impact on the musical world. Musical audiences were intrigued by Cobain and Winehouse’s talents while alive. However, these musicians’ raunchy behaviors and drug addiction led to obituary critics and documentaries. This literature review will look at the collective legacies of Cobain and Winehouse to establish how people constructed meanings from the musicians’ personas. This literature review especially emphasizes research, celebrity discourse, and media portrayal to understand Cobain and Winehouse’s post-death identities.

2.2 An advance organizer about covered topics in Chapter 2

This literature is structured in different sections to answer the sub-questions linked to this study’s primary research question. The first section investigates how pop culture has influenced drug abuse among musicians. Section 2.3.1 will help answer sub-question (a) on how pop culture has contributed to a drug use crisis among musicians. The second section in the literature review is about Cobain and Winehouse’s legacies. Section 2.3.2 will help answer sub-question (b) on what caused the downward spiral of the musical careers of Cobain and Winehouse. The last section of this literature review is about Cobain and Winehouse’s legacies in the current musical world. Section 2.3.3 will help answer sub-section (c) on how present-day musical audiences and musicians were impacted by Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths.

2.3 Synthesis of empirical data from various studies

2.3.1 Pop Culture and Drug Abuse

Research reveals that musicians’ pop culture experiences have influenced drug usage as a coping mechanism. European observers in the last two decades have identified that most youths abuse illegal drugs for recreational use (Motyka and Al-Imam 50). In the authors’ view, music and peer influence compel youths into drug use. Motyka and Al-Imam’s article involved a 2005 research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh that analyzed 300 popular songs. Musical lyrics influenced risky behaviors among listeners who consumed the 300 popular songs. 77% of rap songs and 14% of rock songs analyzed at the University of Pittsburgh influenced risky behaviors among listeners (Motyka and Al-Imam 50). The authors also discovered that 20% of the sampled hip-hop songs influenced drug usage among listeners. The lyrical content in music influences listeners’ musical preferences. Listeners develop behaviors based on audiovisuals and lyrical content that music contains.

Drug use is a common theme featured in music genres such as reggae and rap. Illegal drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy are featured in gangsta rap, implying a close link between pop culture and drug abuse (Motyka and Al-Imam 50). The authors reviewed various studies that concluded that drug references are constantly used in popular songs. Album covers and titles cite drug references that have influenced drug usage among musicians. Musicians abuse drugs as drug references imply wealth, improved mood, and high social status (Motyka and Al-Imam 50). Music influences how listeners perceive songs and how they react to lyrical content. During the 1990s, few restrictions in the music industry resulted in frequent drug references in songs. Adolescents during the 1990s developed risky behaviors linked to their musical preferences (Motyka and Al-Imam 50). This resulted in increased drug usage in the 1990s as this risky behavior was influenced by music consumption.

Opioid use disorder has become an epidemic as themes in most songs are based on narcotics or drugs. In 2015, CDC recorded premature deaths in the US were 33091 (Hanba and Hanba 761). These deaths were linked to opioid use disorder, which has burdened most Americans. Drug-related disorders are linked to messages that pop culture imposes on societies. Pop culture has more severe impacts on young people than older adults. Pop culture immensely impacts young people because they grow and learn from different sources. Pop culture is an example of a learning source whereby young people access information from the lyrical content. Young people whose minds are growing are unlikely to make sound decisions to avoid drugs that are detrimental to their well-being. Musicians glorify drug usage in pop music, influencing young people into drug abuse. Therefore, pop music that is widely consumed among listeners is likely to influence drug abuse when musicians reference or glorify drug usage.

Billboard’s Top 40 songs from 1986 to 2016 contain musical lyrics referencing different drugs abused by musicians. For example, heroin and opioid have been constantly referenced in Billboard’s top 40 songs (Hanba and Hanba 763). Billboard’s Top 40 songs have wide audiences implying that most people publicly consume lyrical content. Pop music influences drug usage among listeners when musicians express opinions about drugs through lyrical content. Pop music drives people’s cultures as listeners copy practices exhibited among celebrated icons in the music industry. Most musicians use recreational drugs, influencing young people and increasing the drug usage problem. Musical artists have embraced drug usage to enhance their popularity among musical audiences. Music listeners are likely to use drugs when they copy copious references about drugs made by celebrated icons. Positive drug depictions in pop music have hindered governments from combating drug abuse which has become a crisis among young people.

Most musicians abuse drugs and substances to cope with the pressure of creating music. The UN’s 2020 drug use data from 2009 to 2018 reveal that there are 269 million drug users (Motyka and Al-Imam 1). Drug use has also been linked to premature deaths caused by overdone. The UN drug use data reveals that 585000 premature deaths were recorded in 2017 due to drug overdose (Motyka and Al-Imam 1). Drugs whose overdose has been constantly linked to premature deaths include cannabis, cocaine, and heroin. Although governments have enacted preventive measures, drug usage is still a major problem as illegal drug markets are spread globally. Monitoring systems have been ineffective in detecting illegal drugs and ensuring they are unavailable for consumption. Drug producers and traffickers have unlawfully exploited policing gaps to escape governments’ preventive measures (Motyka and Al-Imam 1). This has resulted in a continuous drug supply and accessibility, making drug usage a worrying crisis affecting most countries.

Early exposure, peer influences, and poor upbringing affect young people enabling them to abuse drugs. Pop culture promotes casual attitudes toward drugs and substances, resulting in drug abuse (Motyka and Al-Imam 2). Young people have constantly abused recreational drugs featured in pop culture. According to Motyka and Al-Imam, pop culture is symbolic as it has different features whose content transmits messages (3). For instance, music’s lyric content connects listeners to musicians’ musical practices. This connection conditions listeners’ attitudes to musical lyrics enabling them to copy musicians’ behaviors and practices. Technological developments enabled musicians to connect with listeners by airing music through television and radio. These pop culture carriers have enhanced interactions between musicians and listeners through information exchange. However, listeners who watch audiovisuals develop risky behaviors based on the promoted message (Motyka and Al-Imam 3). Listeners become ignorant of risks associated with drug usage as audiovisuals compel them to copy risky behaviors exhibited among celebrities.

2.3.2 Causal Risk Factor in the Deaths of Cobain and Winehouse

Drug and substance abuse was the causal risk factor leading to the deaths of Cobain and Winehouse. Winehouse was a talented musician who developed her celebrity status through performing her public self. Polaschek notes, “During her lifetime Amy Winehouse became a mainstay of the British tabloids” (1). Winehouse acquired celebrity status by defining her image through musical performances. Music performances shaped Winehouse’s public persona among her international audiences. Increased media coverage of Winehouse’s music albums shaped her celebrity persona. Back to Black is one of Winehouse’s albums that made her a global celebrity. However, Winehouse’s legacy in the music industry did not last for long, as drug addiction and alcoholism led to the downward spiral of her career development. Winehouse’s pervasive behaviors, such as public drinking and drunkenness, hindered her from sustaining career development (Polaschek 6). Winehouse’s self-destructive behaviors affected her public persona as the media demeaned her due to her drug addiction.

Winehouse also exhibited risky behaviors through growling and spitting on her audiences. Polaschek indicates, “Winehouse embraces her unruliness. She repeatedly asserts her strong her strong sense of self in interviews, on stage and in her lyrics” (6). Winehouse authored her celebrity status through risky behaviors often made explicit during her performances. Winehouse embraced social transgression and forfeited normative social conduct that could have hindered her from upholding unruliness. Winehouse also defied her musical management’s advice about accessing rehabilitation programs (Polaschek 6). Winehouse’s musical management was supportive, but her reluctance to adopt normative social conduct adversely affected her well-being. Winehouse’s excessive drinking contributed to a fast downward spiral in her musical career. Alcohol and drug abuse enabled Winehouse to cope with childhood difficulties but tarnished her public persona. Addiction, emotional disintegration, and media glare led to Winehouse’s death when she was 27 (Polaschek 12).

Moreover, drug abuse is the causal factor contributing to Cobain’s tragic death in 1994. According to Ningthoujam, “Cobain had a long history of drug abuse, starting with marijuana in 1980, heroin in 1986, and by 1990, he had developed a full-fledged addiction” (10). Cobain began abusing drugs when he was aged 13. Drug addiction hindered Cobain from dedicating efforts to his band’s success. For example, due to drug use, Cobain passed out when attending his band’s photo shoots (Ningthoujam 10). Nirvana band’s success was affected due to Cobain’s drug problem as he was never dedicated during tours. For example, Cobain had a heroin overdose before his 1993 performance in New York (Ningthoujam 10). A champagne overdose in 1994 during a Munich tour led to Cobain’s hospitalization due to bronchitis.Drug addiction made Cobain suicidal, contributing to his death in 1994 due to gunshot wounds (Ningthoujam 11). Therefore, Cobain’s early demise confirms a pathological inability to cope with drug addiction.

Research suggests that musicians have historically abused drugs to heighten pleasure and enhance creativity when creating music. Lawendowski notes, “Musicians often suffer from mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and psychoses, which are responsible for disruption of life patterns and nature of their relationships with others” (3). The authors’ argument clarifies mysteries about Cobain and Winehouse’s lives. These musicians lived unhealthy lifestyles due to drug addiction. For example, Winehouse’s troubled personality resulted from her psychological vulnerability to failure after her breakthrough into the international music industry. In another study by Bartel and Thompson, the authors found that musicians abuse drugs to overcome performance stress and anxieties faced during solo performances. Most musicians abuse drugs when they experience performance anxiety enabling them to connect with their audiences (Bartel and Thompson 8). Musicians abuse drugs as a coping strategy but end up suffering health conditions linked to drug addiction that hinder them from sustaining their musical abilities.

Winehouse was a talented musician with amazing singing abilities. However, Winehouse died aged 27 due to a drug overdose (Ningthoujam 2). Winehouse’s biography reveals that she was popular in the musical world through her evocative voice. Frank (2003) was Winehouse’s debut album and her breakthrough into the UK music industry (Ningthoujam 3). Uncertainties surrounding Winehouse’s death began after her breakthrough into the UK music industry. For instance, Winehouse did not record music from 2005 to 2007 since she lacked inspiration (Ningthoujam 3). Winehouse’s 2007 album, “Rehab,” was about drug use whereby she condemned her management’s persuasion to undergo rehabilitation. Winehouse used drugs to cope with her separation from Blake Fielder, who was her lover (Ningthoujam 3). Drug addiction led to Winehouse’s hospitalization in 2007 due to overdose. Winehouse lacked devotion in music-making as drug addiction hindered her from fulfilling her musical career. Autopsy reports after Winehouse’s death revealed that her demise was due to alcoholism (Ningthoujam 5).

2.3.3 Cobain and Winehouse’s Legacies in Present-day Music Industries

Critics and media coverage have extensively explored meanings attributed to Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths. These musicians’ personas have been explained through drug abuse a misadventure, which contributed to their deaths. Yet, Cobain and Winehouse have also been praised for musical talents that enabled them to become fan favorites. Winehouse’s persona is still relevant in the present-day music industry due to her music albums, performances, and the Amy movie. Winehouse gained institutional recognition and awards through her performances that different audiences liked (Polaschek 2). However, Winehouse’s poor legacy due to drug addiction has hindered contemporary musicians and musical audiences from praising and emulating her talent. Amy movie reveals that Winehouse’s musical output was minimal, but she gained audiences’ affection through her persona (Sledmere 120). Amy movie references Winehouse’s vulnerability due to drug addiction which affected her health. Winehouse’s tragic fate was death as she could not overcome alcoholism and drug addiction.

Similar to Winehouse’s life documented in the Amy movie, the Montage of Heck movie is a 2015 documentary of Cobain’s life. These movies have sustained Cobain and Winehouse’s legacies despite their deaths in the past. Montage of Heck documents Cobain’s life from birth to death (González and Serra 3). Some elements of Cobain’s life brought out in Montage of Heck include his birth certificate and bracelet, which he wore during childhood. Cobain received parental support while growing up but resorted to drug abuse when he became a musician. The movie about Cobain’s life provides a narrative logic about the musician’s tragedy due to drug addiction. Movies have a narrative function by explaining ideas and events to audiences. For example, Amy and Montage of Heck narrate the lives of Winehouse and Cobain. Through these movies, current musical audiences have learned and obtained meaning from the musicians’ tragic lives.

Winehouse’s character type is considered uncanny as she was unable to maintain consistent musical performances. Winehouse’s preoccupation with commercial imperatives and life dissatisfaction hindered her from succeeding in her musical career (Sledmere 120). The author compares Winehouse’s character to a Gothic tradition that involves villains and victims. Like Gothic characters, Winehouse sought success in the music industry, which required musicians to remain creative. However, Winehouse was unreliable due to drug addiction which affected her creativity. Winehouse’s biographies reference her as a drug addict who could not maintain her personal and professional life (Sledmere 120). Winehouse could not cope with the music industry’s pressure necessitating her to use drugs as a coping strategy. Family and friends could not stop Winehouse’s drug habits as she sought freedom (Sledmere 120). Winehouse did not want to be confined in rehabilitation facilities as she believed they were meant for mentally unwell individuals.

Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths were surprising scenarios that are still memorable among present-day musical audiences. According to Foster and Keane, “When people encounter surprising, anomalous, or unexpected events, they are prompted to explain these anomalies, a process of casual elaboration that produces richer memory encodings, thus improving the memorability of the focal event” (78). People remember past events when present activities offer important details that enhance recall. Death is an example of an event that evokes remembrance of past events that significantly impacted people. As per Stafford’s article, Chris Cornell’s death enabled the author to recall Cobain’s death. Cornell and Cobain were lead singers in the 1990s but from different bands. However, Cornell died in 2017, while Cobain died in 1994. This suggests that Cornell’s death evoked remembrance of Cobain’s mysterious death as they were talented lead singers. Cobain shaped youth culture throughout his musical career until his death.

Cobain’s tragic life has been frequently criticized and referenced during the COVID-19 pandemic due to self-isolation. MacDonald notes, “As one Tweet circulating this meme notes: Kurt warned us, and we took heed” (148). Cobain had alienated himself due to his troubled life before his death in 1994. Cobain’s demise due to drug addiction and isolation was a crisis of self-destruction. Yet, generation Z embodied Cobain’s legacy to assert cultural superiority over other generations. Cobain’s song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” has been referenced among online groups during the pandemic to indicate childhood trauma (MacDonald 148). As per MacDonald’s article, the pandemic led to government restrictions and self-isolation to prevent the disease from spreading. Yet, generation Z was resistant to self-isolation and applauded Cobain’s youth legacy of having fun. Cobain appealed to youths who desire the freedom to engage in activities they desire. However, Cobain’s legacy is often criticized due to the musician’s drug addiction problem contributing to his demise.

Chapter 3, Methodology

This chapter will explain various sub-sections, such as the setting, sample, study materials, data collection tools, methods, and data analysis. These sub-sections are useful in strengthening the research methodology to collect valid data for analysis. This thesis uses a mixed methods approach to collect qualitative and quantitative data to answer the research questions. Therefore, secondary research techniques will be involved to establish people’s attitudes and opinions about the deaths of Cobain and Winehouse. The researcher will first investigate literature from academia and scholarly sources relevant to the biographies of Cobain and Winehouse. Scholarly sources will be emphasized to understand the theoretical underpinnings of drug abuse, while academia will help understand how Cobain and Winehouse constructed their public personas. Involving data from academia and scholarly sources will result in a better understanding of why Cobain and Winehouse are regarded as 27-Club icons.

3.1 Setting

Mohajan indicates that selecting the setting is the preliminary step when conducting research and collecting reliable data (3). The setting influences the nature of results the researcher collects and how they are interpreted during analyses. The setting employed in this thesis is worldwide to access adequate data for answering the research questions. The researcher selected a worldwide setting as Cobain and Winehouse had global influence among musical audiences. Although Cobain was American while Winehouse was British, the musicians impacted the global music industry. Thus, this thesis involves a worldwide setting as Cobain and Winehouse were famous musicians among musical audiences of different demographics.

3.2 Population, Sample, and Sampling Method

Mishra and Alok define a population as units constituting researchers’ desired characteristics (8). In the authors’ view, a large population, unlike a small population, cannot be included in the research. A researcher identifies a sample from the studied population whose elements are suitable for study. This thesis’s target population is the musical audience, but the target sample comprises Cobain, Winehouse, music educators, and music listeners. This thesis involves a large sample because, as stated in chapter one, Cobain and Winehouse were popular worldwide. Therefore, a large sample will enable the researcher to obtain adequate data to answer this thesis’s research questions.

The researcher selected multi-stage sampling as this is a mixed method thesis. The researcher will obtain small clusters from the selected population through multi-stage sampling. Small clusters are useful in data collection as they enhance efficiency during data collection. According to Rahman et al., “Researchers with limited resources and time can take the sample from groups like this because they use multi-stage sampling” (50). Although multi-stage sampling does not guarantee 100% accuracy in study outcomes, this sampling method reduces variance. As a result, there will be no confusion when studying the selected sample as there is reduced variance when using multi-stage sampling.

3.3 Study materials

The researcher identified materials that would supplement existing knowledge and help collect data to answer research questions. The selected study materials are discussed below.

3.3.1 Scholarly Articles

Scholarly articles from academia and search engines were incorporated into this thesis. Google Search Console is an example of a search engine that helped access scholarly research materials. The research presented in this thesis is motivated by the need to advance knowledge and understand the circumstances leading to the downward spiral of the career of Cobain and Winehouse. The researcher selected scholarly articles from web-based repositories as they are useful data sources that would help gather secondary data. Scholarly materials were also useful in discussing chapters one, two, and three.

3.3.2 Biographies

The researcher selected biographies to breach the gap between published and unpublished information about Cobain and Winehouse’s lives. Kich and Martins note that biographical research helps understand people’s histories and identities (2). Authors conduct biographical research through truth-seeking before disclosing information in publications. The researcher involved biographies in this thesis as they would help disclose valid information about Cobain and Winehouse. Biographical research would also be useful in data analysis to draw valid conclusions about Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths. This would, in turn, enable the researcher to address the research problem.

3.3.3 Software and Technological Devices

Skype and Microsoft Word are software that enabled the researcher to create and organize information. Technological devices such as phones and laptops helped facilitate efficient software functioning during research and data collection. Skype enabled the researcher to communicate with scholars and access valid data about Cobain and Winehouse. Microsoft Word served as a helpful writing software in organizing and editing data. Collected data about Cobain and Winehouse was stored in a laptop to avoid data loss during the research.

3.3.4 Notebooks and Checklists

The researcher selected notebooks and checklists as they are writing components useful in data collection. Notebooks were useful in notetaking, enabling the researcher to maintain a chronological record of Cobain and Winehouse’s careers. Checklists enabled the researcher to adhere to research steps and actions to avoid mistakes resulting in erroneous data. As a result of using notebooks and checklists in research, the researcher realized outcome consistency by making decisions aligned with the research framework.

3.4 Measurement and data collection tools

The measurement criterion for this thesis is evaluation, whereby the research assesses secondary sources before choosing data collection tools. Reliability is fundamental during research to overcome biased information that degrades a study’s trustworthiness. The researcher will involve measurement scales to analyze data to enhance its reliability. During measurement, the researcher will focus on questions such as: How and when was the data collected? Were there biases during data collection? These questions will guide the researcher during data measurement to filter sources and eliminate those with misleading information. Filtering sources will enable the researcher to access reliable and valid data useful in data analysis.

The researcher involves secondary data collection tools to collect adequate information for answering the research questions. For example, devices and libraries will be useful in secondary data collection. Secondary data will be collected from the selected sample to enable the researcher to understand how collected information will help in answering the research questions. As described in subsection 3.2, the sample involved in this thesis will be studied to obtain data for answering the research questions. Secondary data methods accelerate research dissemination to study problems and draw timely assumptions (Renbarger, Sulak & Kaul 464). As a result of involving secondary data tools in this thesis, the research will not explore primary data as its collection process is time-consuming.

3.5 Methods for collecting data and implementing the study

3.5.1 Methods for Collecting Data

The researcher identified three methods that would be useful in collecting this thesis’s data. This was done to overcome bias and ensure reliable data was used to address the research problem. Library Research

The researcher selected library research as one of the methods that would be useful in collecting secondary data. Library research enables researchers to access data from existing sources such as historical records and scholarly documents. Library research enables one to access information for conducting literature reviews (Barrow 1). Library research can be conducted online or by visiting public or university libraries. The library provides access to published or unpublished documents such as journals and conference materials. These documents contain research and scholarly topics that have been investigated. Library research is essential to this thesis as it will enable the researcher to access published information about Cobain and Winehouse. The researcher will rely on library research to extensively study and understand the research problem. This will also enable the researcher to access data that will be useful in answering the research questions.

Data obtained through library research is considered secondary data as it is readily available through other researchers’ works. Quantitative and qualitative approaches are basic approaches researchers use for understanding research inquiries (Mondal 21). Researchers involve secondary data obtained through library research to solve research problems. Library research enables researchers to access scholarly articles from inter-related disciplines. For instance, a researcher can access scholarly articles published on different websites. This can be done through library research, whereby researchers use the search bar to find scholarly materials using keywords. Although library research is a valuable data collection method, a researcher must be skilled or seek guidance to find scholarly articles. Library research can be tedious but valuable during research. Guidance from librarians will help overcome time wastage while enabling the researcher to access adequate information for solving research questions.

In this thesis, the researcher will conduct library research through the university and local public libraries. In order to conduct library research, the researcher will begin by identifying keywords that will be useful in finding background information about Cobain and Winehouse. The researcher will then evaluate accessed data to enhance its reliability. Data collected through the library will be useful in discussing chapters one, two, and four. Chapter one is the introduction which is an overview of Cobain and Winehouse. Chapter two is the literature review, while chapter three comprises results and their discussion. These three chapters rely on information obtained through the data collection methods. Secondary data that the researcher will access through library research will help establish evidence-based arguments in chapters two and four. This will, in turn, enable the researcher to solve the research questions and research problem raised in chapter one. Internet Research

The researcher selected internet research as this data collection method would facilitate quick access to secondary data. Internet research enables researchers to access rich literature produced by various scholars (Lobe, Morgan, and Hoffman 1). Internet research is a suitable data collection method during the COVID-19 pandemic as the researcher does not travel to access information. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted research processes through government restrictions to prevent movements. Restrictions compelled researchers to transition from physical environments to online environments. Online research would enable the researcher to access rich literature that is uncompromised. This can be done by involving data from peer-reviewed scholarly sources to enhance the research process’s credibility. Internet research enables researchers to access up-to-date information (Lobe, Morgan and Hoffman 1). As a result, internet research will enable the researcher to access data through research materials such as phones and laptops to access and store data.

Data collected through internet research is regarded as secondary data as the researcher relies on the information published in scholarly works. According to Lobe, Morgan, and Hoffman, researchers use videoconferencing applications to access data (2). For example, Skype and Zoom are useful data access and collection applications. However, these applications have raised ethical problems such as privacy and confidentiality in the past. Researchers must avoid ethical problems when conducting online research to avoid misconduct and deceit that compromise accessed data quality. In order for the researcher to overcome ethical problems when collecting data for this essay, various measures were selected, such as investigating privacy and confidentiality issues. Confidentiality must not be overlooked during research, as this results in lawsuits when there are breaches (Lobe, Morgan and Hoffman 5). The researcher investigated risks associated with online research to ensure data collection was conducted with consideration of rules governing online research.

In this thesis, secondary data collected through internet research will be useful in chapters one, two, and four. These chapters discuss published works about Cobain and Winehouse. Internet research will be useful in gathering secondary data to discuss Cobain and Winehouse’s musical careers. The internet allows scholars, educators, and the public to store data through hosting services. Researchers intending to access information through the internet must follow strict procedures. The researcher will follow guidelines when conducting internet research as this data collection method is beneficial in obtaining valuable information that will be useful in answering the research questions. The researcher can also access messaging services through the internet to reach scholars and researchers for them to grant data accessibility permissions. The internet also guarantees sample diversity, enabling the researcher to access valid information related to the selected sample groups, such as musical audiences, musical educators, Cobain, and Winehouse. Organizational Reports

In this thesis, the researcher will involve organizational reports such as Billboard’s Top 40 songs, whereby musicians’ performances during particular periods are ranked. Billboard chart history was first launched during the 1960s to rank famous artists in the music industry. Like other organizational reports, Billboard charts generate accurate information about musicians’ performances. Organizational reports contain accurate data that has been effectively collected and analyzed. This thesis will also involve organizational reports about the contracts of Cobain and Winehouse. These musicians worked under different labels as their countries of origin differed. The researcher will investigate labels and recording companies to obtain organizational reports about Cobain and Winehouse’s musical careers. Indeed, music industry partnerships comprise streaming companies, music creators, and labels. Partnership reports about singers and songwriters are valuable secondary data sources. Involving organizational reports in this thesis will facilitate effective data analysis to enable the researcher to use secondary data to answer the research questions.

In this thesis, organizational reports will be useful in decision-making to establish the link between musical careers and drug use. Organizational reports will be useful in discussing chapters one, two, and four. These chapters are about Cobain and Winehouse’s musical careers and the issues contributing to their downfall. The researcher will rely on secondary data from organizational reports to establish whether drug abuse was the driver contributing to the downward spiral of Cobain and Winehouse’s careers. Organizational reports contain accurate findings as biased publications affect the public image. Yet, public scrutiny of organizational reports does not imply that they are unbiased. The researcher will assess organizational reports to select the most suitable publications for this thesis. The researcher will combine various reports to serve as secondary data sources for this thesis. The researcher will not conduct primary research as organizational reports are authentic data sources.

3.5.2 Implementation of the Study

This section provides guidance on steps and considerations the researcher undertook to overcome barriers that would have hindered this thesis’s implementation. The researcher adhered to implementation stages to accurately report results and draw inferences. Guidance for implementing this thesis is drawn from comprehensive literature reviews accessed from academia and scholarly works to avoid confusion that would hinder data reporting. Implementation Checklist

The researcher implemented this thesis’s checklist by setting plans and goals. The goals involved collecting accurate data for analysis and answering the research questions. The researcher’s plans entailed budget allocation and access to research materials. The implementation checklist, as shown in table 1, contained plans and steps the researcher would follow to realize this thesis’s objectives.

Table1: Implementation Checklist

Thesis Implementation Checklist
  Plan/Goal ?
1 Determine research problem/research problems  
2 Create a comprehensive budget  
3 Plan how to gather data  
4 Avail data collection materials  
5 Identify scholarly sources  
6 Plan how to conduct a literature review  
7 Plan the research methodology  
8 Collect data and conduct data analysis  
9 Discuss results and make deductions Research Budget and Justification

Table 2: Research Budget

Category Details Amount
Materials Software and technological devices

Notebooks, writing pens, and checklists



Travel Local transportation at $30/day

Library fees at $20/day

Hotel workcation at $120/night

Meals at $60/day





Total   $2680 Appropriateness of this Thesis and Implementation Decisions

Implementing this thesis aims to enhance understanding of drug abuse in pop culture. This thesis involves quantitative and qualitative data to explain how drug addiction affected the musical careers of Cobain and Winehouse. Additionally, this thesis will fill knowledge gaps through evidence-based arguments on how drug addiction can ruin one’s career. Using data from scholarly sources, the researcher will make evidence-based deductions linked to the problem statement. Implementation Period

This thesis’s implementation will be done based on the submission and evaluation criteria. The researcher will incorporate the project supervisor’s feedback into the thesis during the finalization process. This thesis will be published once recommendations from the final evaluation have been incorporated to ensure it is error-free.

3.6 Data analysis

In this thesis, data analysis was done with regard to mixed methods research. This thesis has quantitative and qualitative data implying that mixed methods are the correct approach for data analysis. Kansteiner and König note that mixed methods design enables researchers to analyze numeric and non-numeric data. Data analysis enables researchers to understand collected information and establish its significance in solving the research problem. The current research employed in this thesis adopted a mixed methods design for data analysis. Mixed methods design has versatile procedures to allow researchers to implement different rationales. The researcher selected a mixed methods design for this thesis’s data analysis to develop different justifications for Cobain and Winehouse’s career failures.

3.6.1 Data Deduction

Kennedy and Thornberg define data deduction as a process whereby researchers select, simplify and transform data to establish meaning (50). This is done by developing a specific rationale for how the collected data answers the research questions. In order to elicit meaning from collected data, the researcher made inferences through analysis based on the research framework. The researcher adopted this thesis’s purpose to serve as an analytical tool during data analysis. The researcher also made inferences from academia and scholarly sources to gain a new understanding of the research topic. The researcher read scholarly sources and biographies to understand the collected data. The researcher also re-analyzed collected data before categorizing it based on reliability. Finally, the researcher reviewed data categories before selecting those that would be useful in answering the research questions.

3.6.2 Data Display

During data analysis, the researcher categorized data into different categories (Table 3) that would help in data analysis.

Table 3: Data Categories

Category Details
Drug usage in pop culture ·      Drug use among pop musicians

·      Common drugs abused by pop musicians

Performance pressures and drug use ·      Lack of confidence during musical performances

·      Peer pressure and drug abuse

Drug use as a coping strategy ·      Normalizing drug use to overcome performance phobia

·      Abusing drugs to fit in pop culture

Drug addiction and career failure ·      Problems associated with drug addiction

·      Career failure and lack of focus Drug usage in pop culture

This data category entails the link between drug use and pop culture. This data category provides a general view of pop culture and how it influences drug use. Perspectives under this category entail music genres such as rap and rock. The researcher discusses how different music genres influence drug use among musicians and musical audiences. Performance pressures and drug use

This data category discusses pop culture to establish how it influences musicians’ behaviors and habits. The researcher used pop music as one of pop culture’s groups to discuss drug use. The researcher discusses how performance pressures have compelled pop musicians to use drugs when recording music. Drug use as a coping strategy

This category emphasizes drug use as a coping mechanism for overcoming performance pressures. In this category, the researcher collects data about Cobain and Winehouse’s careers published in academia and scholarly works. Collected data about these musicians enabled the researcher to draw assumptions about how pop musicians abuse drugs to overcome performance pressures. Drug addiction and career failure

This is the last category the researcher used during the data display. Under this category, the researcher collected information about Cobain and Winehouse’s career failures. These musicians were affected by drug addiction, hindering them from making career developments. The researcher analyzed data about Cobain and Winehouse to establish evidence-based solutions to the research questions.

3.6.3 Conclusion Drawing

The researcher conducted a conclusion drawing to establish the reliability of the collected data and to ascertain its validity in answering the research questions. This was done by reviewing collected data and ensuring no errors occurred during data collection from academia and scholarly works. The researcher assessed facts and concluded how drug abuse affected Cobain and Winehouse’s career developments.      

Chapter 4, Results and Discussion

This chapter is a detailed representation of collected results and data analysis. The researcher used data collection tools to collect data and scrutinized it before presentation. The researcher presented this study’s findings in the following categories: Winehouse’s billboard statistics; Nirvana’s billboard statistics; Cobain’s meme during the pandemic; drug abuse and musical performances; and drug addiction and death. Drug abuse and musical statistics were the determining factors that guided the researcher during data collection and presentation.

4.1.4 Drug Abuse and Pop Culture

The researcher found that pop culture has influenced drug abuse among musicians and their followers. Musical audiences admire and idolize musicians due to their fame and how the media presents their lifestyles. Pop culture allows musical audiences to watch shows and listen to songs. However, pop culture is not often celebrated as musicians have misled their audiences. The researcher found that most musicians abuse drugs and uphold inappropriate behaviors in songs and shows that musical audiences idolize.

4.1.5 Drug Abuse and Musical Performances

The researcher found that heroin and marijuana were common drugs that Cobain and Winehouse abused. Studies reported that Cobain and Winehouse abused drugs at a younger age. Scholars also reported that Winehouse had not succeeded in music school. Winehouse was suspended from music school for being naughty. Research findings further indicate that Winehouse suffered alcoholism due to constant drug abuse. The researcher discovered that Winehouse did not perform when sober as she was an alcoholic.

4.1.5 Drug Addiction and Death

In this study, the researcher assessed how drug addiction affects musicians. Correspondingly, this study’s findings revealed that drug addiction hindered Cobain and Winehouse from staying focused on their careers. The researcher found that Cobain and Winehouse died at 27 due to drug addiction. Drug addiction adversely affected Cobain and Winehouse’s well-being resulting in their tragic deaths. The researcher established that Cobain and Winehouse are still famous among musical audiences despite defaming their personas before death.

4.2 Discussion

Data analysis reveals that the mechanism by which pop culture effects drug abuse among musicians is extensively referenced by scholars. Pop culture and drug abuse are intertwined variables as per this study. This study’s findings showed that Cobain and Winehouse abused drugs during their lifetime. These musicians’ biographies present creativity and tragic versions of their lives constructed around celebrity statuses. Subsections 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 present Cobain and Winehouse’s creative versions. These musicians had a global impact among musical audiences resulting in their top ranks on Billboard charts. For example, Cobain, through the Nirvana band, had one hit song on Billboard. Similar to Cobain, Winehouse also had one hit song on Billboard charts. Cobain and Winehouse were creative, and this enabled them to succeed in recording music. However, Cobain and Winehouse’s drug-taking lifestyles influenced their performances in pop music. Cobain and Winehouse were susceptible to drug abuse as this habit is constantly linked to pop culture.

The relationship between drug addiction and death is that coping with performance pressures through drug abuse led to intoxication. Drug addiction enabled Winehouse and Cobain to reinvent their public persona and promote their celebrity lifestyle. The study findings reveal that Cobain and Winehouse were famous, but their deaths resulted from drug abuse. Drug addiction contributed to Winehouse’s unruly behaviors featured on media platforms (Ningthoujam 2). Winehouse could not sustain comeback performances as musical audiences avoided her performances due to her unruly behaviors. Winehouse died in 2011 due to alcoholism, and her death was internationally covered by the media (Gross and Musgrave 3). Research indicates that Cobain’s death was also caused by drug addiction. Cobain abused marijuana and heroin, which compelled him to self-harm. Drug addiction contributed to Cobain’s self-destructive behaviors and his death in 1994 (Harmon 6). As a result of drug addiction, Cobain and Winehouse could not prevent the tragic downward spiral of their careers during their lifetimes.

Results from this study further indicate that drug addiction hindered Cobain and Winehouse from staying focused on their musical careers. For example, Cobain collapsed during photography sessions (Ningthoujam 10). Winehouse also abused drugs hindering her from recording music from 2005 to 2007. Cobain and Winehouse struggled to maintain sobriety as they suffered drug addiction. For instance, Winehouse directed misogyny to her musical audiences as she did not maintain sobriety during performances (Cascelli and Condon 80). Cobain’s New York tour was also unsuccessful as he performed after abusing drugs (Ningthoujam 10). Cobain and Winehouse’s drug addiction problems confirm a dominant discourse that drug abuse contributes to a career crisis. Cobain and Winehouse lacked celebrity statuses during the pre-fame period. These musicians constantly abused drugs when they were famous, affecting their musical performance and contributing to career failure.

Poor talent management may be attributed to Cobain and Winehouse’s individual desires to succeed in the music industry. Scholarly research reveals that Winehouse’s success in the British music industry influenced her appalling lifestyle (Ningthoujam 2). A possible justification for Winehouse’s lifestyle after succeeding in the music industry is that she stopped recording music in 2005. Winehouse resumed recording music in 2007 when she released her rehab album. Winehouse’s intention for releasing the rehab album was to criticize her music management (Cascelli and Condon 80). Winehouse had constructed her celebrity status and believed her music management’s intervention in her celebrity lifestyle could limit her freedom. Winehouse rejected her management’s idea of rehabilitation and constantly abused drugs. Drug abuse influenced celebrity narratives as Winehouse could not perform music or shows when sober. Winehouse’s desire to perform without her music management’s support threatened her career (Cascelli and Condon 80). Winehouse constructed her public self through drug abuse but failed to enhance career development as she lacked access to talent management.

Data collected from scholarly works further revealed that Winehouse defied her management’s guidance. This might be attributed to marginalization during childhood that might have triggered Winehouse’s compulsive behaviors. Winehouse exerted her strong sense of self during childhood when she was expelled from the musical school (Ningthoujam 2). Winehouse’s parents divorced during childhood, compelling her to embrace unruliness while growing up. For example, Winehouse revealed in her interviews that she was disinterested in people’s thoughts (Polaschek 6). Winehouse neglected social norms and upheld rebellion as her life’s coping mechanism to overcome suffering. Winehouse embraced social transgression and was disinterested in people’s views as they considered her different. Winehouse defied normalcy by admitting in songs that she suffered from drug addiction. For example, Back to Black and Rehab are Winehouse’s songs that reference drug abuse (Ningthoujam 2). Winehouse did not abandon her subversive behaviors as she repeatedly neglected advice and asserted them during her lifetime.

Data analysis reveals that Cobain and Winehouse are still famous among present-day musical audiences. This could be explained through popularity, whereby musicians’ performances impact different generations. For example, Cobain is famous among generation Z as musical audiences embrace his lifestyle due to freedom (MacDonald 148). Subsection 4.1.3 has a picture of Cobain’s meme circulated among media users during the pandemic. Cobain and Winehouse succeeded in the music industry, which is confirmed through Billboard charts revealing their songs’ popularity. Amy and Montage of Heck movies also reveal how Winehouse and Cobain shaped their lifestyles through drug abuse and deviance to cope with fame. Media coverage shaped musical audiences’ memories of Cobain and Winehouse. These musicians became global celebrities and were featured in different shows and performances. As a result of increased media coverage of Cobain and Winehouse’s lives, present-day audiences developed different reactions to their celebrity statuses.

Chapter 5, Conclusion

Results from this study demonstrated that drug addiction contributed to Cobain and Winehouse’s death at 27. Musicians can succeed in their careers and avoid being influenced by drugs popularized in pop culture by abstaining from substance use and gaining access to preventive measures. Winehouse and Cobain were able to reinvent their public personas and promote their celebrity lifestyles due to drug abuse. However, drug abuse influenced Winehouse and Cobain’s self-destructive actions and subsequent deaths. Cobain and Winehouse relied on drug abuse to fit into pop culture and construct their public self among musical audiences. This research also shows that Winehouse created her public persona through drug use but could not advance her career as she lacked access to talent management. Winehouse and Cobain influenced youth culture throughout their musical careers, and as a result, their passing has prompted remembrance among contemporary musicians and musical audiences.

From the above summary, this study’s recommendation for future research is extensive research on iconic 27-Club members to establish whether drug abuse contributed to their deaths. This present study focused on Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths and did not include other 27-Club icons. Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths and struggle to maintain sobriety led to this thesis’s foundation question: “Did pop culture negatively influence Cobain and Winehouse, necessitating the musicians to engage in extreme drug usage resulting in overdose crises and deaths?” Extensive research on Cobain and Winehouse’s deaths reveals that drug addiction and reluctance to seek help contributed to their deaths. This study also recommends that future research investigates whether musicians are the only 27-Club members. This study provides a life-affirming reflection of Cobain and Winehouse, who were musicians during their lifetime. Exploring other 27-Club icons in future research will help establish whether its members are exclusively musicians or people of different demographics.


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