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Nirvana is part of a group of the few rock bands who can see their music withstand the corrosion of the time. Besides this great achievement, Nirvana managed to influence the musical direction of the last decade of the 20th century, marking a new generation of young people up to the present day.

Back in 1988, Nirvana recorded their debut album ‘Bleach’ with a mere 600$. No band in the world could do an album that good with that amount of money in those years. No one could bet at the time, that Nirvana’s trademark loud/soft dynamic mood would change the sound of the world in the following years. And for that matter, much of the guilty were of the following songs.


10 Best Nirvana Songs (Ranked)


10- The Man Who Sold the World (‘MTV Unplugged – New York’, 1994)

the man who sold the world bowie cover by nirvana

This song written and performed by David Bowie is the title track of his third album, released back in 1970. Since then, the song has been covered by several other artists, but no one has done it with so much inspiration as Nirvana did.  A stunning performance was recorded by the band in 1993 during their MTV Unplugged appearance, and it was released on theirMTV Unplugged in New York’ album the following year.

About the cover, David Bowie once said: “I was simply blown away when I found that Kurt Cobain liked my work, and have always wanted to talk to him about his reasons for covering The Man Who Sold the World…it was a good straight forward rendition and sounded somehow very honest. It would have been nice to have worked with him, but just talking with him would have been real cool.


9- You Know You’re Right (‘Nirvana’, 2002)

nirvana you know you're right cover album

‘You Know You’re Right’  it’s the first song on the compilation album, ‘Nirvana’ (2002), and the last song recorded by the band, before frontman Kurt Cobain’s death. This song eventually became the object of legal wrangling between Love (who blocked the song until 2002) and surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.

When liberated it was released as a promo single and picked number 1 on US Mainstream Rock Tracks and US Modern Rock Tracks.


8- In Bloom (‘Nevermind’, 1991)

cover single of nirvana in bloom

‘In Bloom’ was the fourth and final single from the ‘Nevermind’ album, and originally was recorded as a punk rock song, but Cobain soothed the song to stay balanced on the album. It was supported by a black-and-white music video, which parodied musical performances of 1960s variety shows. The music video won Best Alternative Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1993.

It was a hit single, and brought to Nirvana many of the fans Cobain claimed to despise on the lyrics: ‘…He’s the one/Who likes all our pretty songs/And he likes to sing along/And he likes to shoot his gun/But he knows not what it means…’


7- Come as You Are (‘Nevermind’, 1991)

come as you are nirvana single cover

Kurt Cobain recorded his guitar solo in two takes, lyrically ‘Come as You Are’ leaves the listeners with many interpretations, however, the vocalist stated that it’s about human behavior and how people often act contradictory to what you might expect. Although Cobain was afraid of the similarities of this song with Killing Joke’s ‘Eighties’, it eventually became Nevermind’ second single and peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Don’t be surprised if one day you go to Aberdeen, Washington, and find a Town Board with the inscription: ‘Welcome to Aberdeen: Come As You Are‘.


6- Pennyroyal Tea (‘In Utero’, 1993)

nirvana pennyroyal tea single artwork

Written in a time when Cobain was struggling with terrible stomach acid pains, he explains that: “Penny royal tea is an herbal abortiveI have so many friends who have tried to use that, and it never worked. The song is about a person who’s beyond depressed; they’re in their death bed, pretty much…”.

‘Pennyroyal Tea’ is a typical Nirvana song: It starts slow like they were a different band, then distorted guitars are supported by a booming bass/drums giving the song another dimension. It’s impossible not to fall in love with their acoustic version recorded at MTV Unplugged in New York’.

The song wasn’t released as the third single from ‘In Utero’ because of the death of Cobain in the same month.


5- About a Girl (‘Bleach’, 1987)

nirvana about a girl mtv unplugged

Kurt Cobain is not at all a Punk Rock ‘freak’, he loves The Beatles and R.E.M for example, and you can hear their influences in this amazing, we shall say, pop rock song. Released among heavy songs in the ‘Bleach’ album, it’s the acoustic version that opens ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ that has since become one of the most favorite songs from Nirvana’s repertoire. ‘About a Girl’ was written after Cobain spent an entire afternoon listening to ‘Meet The Beatles!’ album.

About putting this song on the first album Cobain explained: ‘I was heavily into pop, I really liked R.E.M., and I was into all kinds of old ‘60s stuff. But there was a lot of pressure within that social scene, the underground — like the kind of thing you get in high school. And to put a jangly R.E.M. type of pop song on a grunge record, in that scene, was risky’.


4- Lithium (‘Nevermind’, 1991)

nirvana lithium artwork

‘Lithium’ is a song about a guy who turns to religion after his girlfriend dies. Musically this song is a perfect example of Nirvana’s trademark, starting the music in a soft mode, giving them a kick making the music highly distorted until calm once again.

‘Lithium’ was released as the third single from Nevermind’ and features a cover photo by Kurt Cobain. In the United States, the single charted at number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100 single chart, and peaked at number 16 and 25 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock Tracks respectively.



3- Heart-Shaped Box (‘In Utero’, 1993)

heart shaped box nirvana single artwork

Despite the hard times of writing and composing  ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ with the band, it was released as the first single from the group’s third and final studio album, ‘In Utero’, in 1993. The song was a tremendous success reaching number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, and on the other side of the Atlantic, it peaked at number five on UK Singles Chart. As for the video that supported the song, it was directed by Anton Corbijn winning two awards, including Best Alternative Video at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1994.

Cobain said that the inspiration for the song came when he was watching documentaries about children with cancer. He told to his biographer: ” Anytime I think about it, it makes me sadder than anything I can think of.”  We can hear him singing: “She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak / I’ve been locked inside your Heart Shaped box for weeks / I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap / I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black


2- All Apologies (‘In Utero’, 1993)

all apologies single nirvana in utero

‘All Apologies’ was the band’s third number-one on Modern Rock Tracks. The second single of the band’s album ‘In Utero’ was released as a double A-side with the song ‘Rape Me’. Since 1990, ‘All Apologies’ have passed through some different record processes: It started to be a piece of folk music in its first demo, then during the record sessions for ‘In Utero’ there were many problems with the direction of the song and with the production of Steve Albini, finally, it ends in an extraordinary performance on ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ in 1993.

Cobain dedicated the song to his wife Courtney Love and their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, not the lyrics but the song’s mood that in the words of Cobain was ‘Peaceful, happy, comfort,’.


1- Smells Like Teen Spirit (‘Nervermind’, 1991)

Smells Like Teen Spirit nirvana nevermind song

This choice for number one is not a cliché, but the truth. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was the song that broke Nirvana and ushered in a new era of music. It’s their best song, probably the best song of the 90’s, and has ensured position among the best songs ever.

The inspiration for the song composition was Pixies, who at the time were a band that Cobain admired a lot: “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”

Written by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl and produced by Butch Vig, this song put the alternative rock movement on the mainstream. It was the band’s biggest hit topping the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks chart for one week, reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100. Everybody knows the music video too, which won two MTV Video Music Awards and was in heavy rotation on music television.



Smells Like Teen Spirit

All Apologies

Heart-Shaped Box


About a Girl


Is just a guy who got tired of bothering his friends talking about music, and decided to create a blog to write about what he loves the most.
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