In 1991, when the band Nirvana released their groundbreaking album Nevermind, the alternative music
genre was officially thrust into the mainstream. With their own unique sound, a mix of several musical genres like punk, indie and hard rock, Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain and his band made music history in a career that spanned only a few short years. When Cobain tragically ended his own life in 1994, the world lost one of the most talented singer/songwriters of our time. But the music lives on. Here are the top ten songs by Nirvana:
1. About a Girl – This song, from the 1989 album Bleach, became popular after Nirvana’s success in the early 1990’s. It gained further popularity after it was showcased on “MTV’s Unplugged”. Still a great song and one of Cobain’s finest songwriting moments.
2. Smells Like Teen Spirit-All heck broke loose when this single from 1991’s Nevermind was released. This song literally changed the face of music at the time, paving the way for the whole Seattle alternative “grunge” scene, and it just screamed teenaged angst. If Cobain was looking for commercial success, this song fit the bill, although it was “heavier” than most radio songs at the time. Interestingly, the title, a reference to a popular brand of deodorant for teen girls, is never mentioned in the song.
3. Come as You Are-This song has beautiful melodies and it was another big hit from the Nevermind album. Critics disagree on what the song was about-there are references to guns, something Cobain seemed to be fascinated with. Some people feel there are drug references in this song, while others think the song is simply about accepting people as they are.
4. Dive-This song, from the 1992 quickie release Insecticide, is a gem amidst Nirvana outtakes and demos. Its’ a rip-roaring rocking song and Cobain literally screams the chorus.
5. Pennyroyal Tea-Cobain was known for his moody and sometimes confusing lyrics and this song is no exception. The song Pennyroyal Tea was first heard on the 1993 album In Utero. It became immortalized during the “Unplugged” sessions and today it remains one of the best songs Nirvana songs.
6. Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam- Another “Unplugged” gem, this song reveals a more vulnerable side to the often-angry sounding Cobain. Featured on the subsequent Nirvana album ” MTV Unplugged in New York”, this song took on special meaning when Cobain committed suicide just six months after recording it.
7. The Man Who Sold the World- Originally a David Bowie song, Nirvana put their own spin on this one during their acoustic sessions. This song also received a lot of radio airplay after Cobain’s death.
8. Heart Shaped Box-This song was the first single from the 1993 album In Utero. With painfully gritty lyrics, this song has been analyzed by many to try to figure out just exactly what it is about. Like many songs by Cobain, the answer is never completely clear. Still, this easily recognizable song was one of the last hits for Cobain while he was still alive.
9. You Know You’re Right- A posthumous hit for Cobain, this song was released after a lengthy battle between the surviving band members and Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love. This was the last song that the band recorded together.
10. Laundry Room-This “hidden” track, from 1993’s compilation album No Alternative, is quite a find for fans looking for more Nirvana material. If you bought “No Alternative” to hear 18 songs by groups like the Smashing Pumpkins Buffalo Tom and The Breeders, imagine your surprise when track 19 comes out of nowhere. It’s a full-fledged Nirvana song-and a really good one to boot. If you haven’t heard this song yet, download it now.