In September, 1991, Nirvana released their 3rd single and first single since signing to Geffen Records. The single would snowball and propel alternative music to the mainstream in a way many bands had failed at. In retrospect Nirvana would be the worst band this could happen to.
Anyway. The single has an iconic video and when it first appeared on MTV I did a double take and thought, ‘is that NIRVANA?’. I guess I was not alone in thinking they’ve only gone and done it. The band sounded world conquering immediately with the simplicity and energy the song generates. The sound surges past contemporaries like The Pixies and Husker Du with astonishing ease.
The title of the song, which is no lyric at all in song, is a reference to Bikini Kill spray painting on Kurt Cobains wall ‘Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit’, a deodorant his then girlfriend wore. Kurt didn’t get the meaning and figured it to have a more profound meaning.
Probably the influence of signing to a major label saw Kurt Attempt to write the ‘perfect Pop song’ admitting to trying to sound like The Pixies the sound of the track is not only more accessible than any Pixies song – it’s one of the best ‘alternative’ singles of all-time. The single peaked at Number 7 in the U.K. Singles Chart and had a knock on effect seeing Nevermind, the bands 2nd album go several times Platinum and arguably destroying the band as their lead singer struggled with the attention the album brought…