It’s not that often when metal creeps its way into mainstream pop culture. So when metal/hard rock acts do actually pop up in beloved sitcoms, dramatic films, cartoons or even reality series, it’s kind of awesome. So in the weekly column Remember When, Metal Insider recalls the most random instances of metal’s elite appearing in front of the camera.
As dark as it may be, it’s ironic that Chris Cornell passed away the same week that a two-disc deluxe edition of the soundtrack to the film Singles was released. Mainly because Cameron Crowe’s 1992 rom-com about the lives of young couples living in Seattle is so beloved for the butt-load of cameos from Seattle’s finest, including Cornell and his bandmates in Soundgarden, right as the grunge scene was on the rise.
To be fair, Cornell had more of a role in the film’s soundtrack than he does in the film (including contributing the solo track “Seasons”). While Soundgarden at one point perform “Birth Ritual” in a bar scene, Cornell was most visibly seen in the movie standing next to Matt Dillon’s grunge rocker character while he tarnished his girlfriend’s car with a poorly installed stereo system. As it turns out though, Cornell almost landed a much bigger part in Singles.
“I really loved Soundgarden; they were my favorite band,” Crowe revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone about Singles and its ties to grunge music (the interview actually occurred a week prior to Cornell’s death). “I originally thought Chris could play the lead, but then I think that turned into too big of a commitment for everybody and so he became the guy he is in the movie, but in the course of making the movie he was close to all of us. He was always around.”
“Because the film was conceived and shot before the international explosion of all of the bands, that ended up being kind of a key factor in what was referred to as the Seattle scene and the Seattle movement,” Cornell himself said in a short-doc that also appeared in Rolling Stone’s recent interview with Crowe.
While Cornell was reduced to a walk-on cameo (in the movie at least), his pals in Pearl Jam (who were still in its infant stages while filming occurred) had a significantly larger role. More specifically, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard played members of Citizen Dick, the fictional grunge band fronted by Dillon’s character. Most of the clothes Dillon wore in the film apparently came from Ament, who also designed the original cassette cover and song titles to Cornell’s 1992 EP, Poncier (which is included in the deluxe reissue of the soundtrack).
And then there’s Alice In Chains, who also show up in the movie to perform “It Ain’t Like That” and “Would?” in another bar scene. “I just remember thinking, ‘Cameron’s magic,’” said Alice in Chains drummer Sean Kinney in the same short-doc. “You’re gonna go to Seattle and make a movie about stuff that just a small sect of people know? At the time, there was no ‘the grunge.’”
All three band’s respective cameos, as well as the aforementioned short-documentary of a few bands (including Cornell himself) looking back at the impact of Singles, can be seen below. You can pick up the deluxe version of Singles here.