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FUV Essentials

There are so many variables that determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history and discography — so WFUV is taking a deeper look with FUV Essentials. On-air and online, we'll celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years and still continue to do so. Let’s love these essential artists while they’re here, and also honor those who have departed too soon.


It's been 25 years since Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" erupted with volcanic rage on radios and MTV in the prehistoric, pre-internet Nineties, altering the trajectory of American music. The lead single from the band's second album, Nevermind, which was released on September 24, 1991, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became the mainstream manifesto of grunge, Seattle's fiery, flannel-cloaked scene of rock 'n' roll angst, anger, isolation, and too many drugs.

Marvin Gaye

A brilliant, complex man and musician, Marvin Gaye released his nine-song conceptual suite, 'What's Going On,' 45 years ago in May 1971. Following a perfect storm of despair and determination, Gaye not only transformed his own career, but the trajectory of contemporary protest albums. He also gave black Americans an album that defined their concerns.

Talking Heads

The Talking Heads—David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and Jerry Harrison—will always be New York's envoys of its golden age of art punk, no wave, new wave and post punk, but they concurrently laid the foundations for the future of artists like Radiohead, Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem.