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70 | Top 100
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Nirvana’s ascent into the pantheon of legend starts here – a choppy guitar riff, a seismic drum break and Kurt Cobain’s anthem for bored youth arrives in a blaze of fuzz guitars. The title was inspired by a graffiti scrawl by the flatmate of Cobain’s then girlfriend
Song facts
Composer Cobain/Grohl/Novoselic
Genre Rock
Album Nevermind
Year of Release 1991
UK Chart Position 7
Tobi Vail (‘Kurt smells like Teen Spirit’), a reference to a popular ladies' deodorant. When Tobi eventually dumped him, he poured his rage into the lyrics, which widened in scope to become the perfect encapsulation of Generation X angst and ennui. The powerhouse riff is often compared to Boston’s More Than a Feeling, but overall the song owes a large debt to The Pixies. In fact, so similar was its quiet/loud dynamic that Cobain initially shied away from including it on Nevermind. Wisely, he was overruled by his bandmates and producer Butch Vig. The rest, of course, is history.

Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic talks about leading a normal life as a member of Nirvana
Krist Novoselic
Krist Novoselic on fame: "You've got to have a certain level of humility in everything you do . . ."


The most important song by the most important band of the last 15 years. Genuine angst, stunning passion and great lyrics


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