But the titular revenge shifts the mood to rage: "She'll come back as fire, to burn all the liars / And leave a blanket of ash on the ground.". “Polly”/“New Wave Polly,” Nevermind (1991). "Fill me in with your new vision," he sarcastically begs, probably hoping to never receive the answer. It's fun as a completist's gaze into this multi-platinum band's humble beginnings. One that doesn’t crop up, however, is the Meat Puppets’ II, a slice of mystic country from sunbaked Arizona punk brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood. The phase-shifting effect on “Curmudgeon” is downright nauseating, but I’ve always loved the laugh at the beginning and the tossed-off, born-again-baiting line “I love Santa / I meant God.”. "I can't decide what caused her to die — let's say she died of AIDS or a car accident or something, and he's going around brooding, and he turned to religion as a last resort to keep himself alive – to keep him from suicide. Every Nirvana Song, Ranked Thirty years after the band’s debut album, we look back at their entire catalogue. "Nothing more than a joke," he told Rolling Stone of the name. And that laugh! There's nowhere to hide. Wait! But it’s still repugnant. "Beeswax," Kill Rock Stars compilation (1991)What in the world is Cobain raving about on the juvenile and perverse "Beeswax"? Krist Novoselic, Kurt Cobain, and Dave Grohl. The sarcasm flew over the head of Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, who once said the song's "fucking rubbish" attitude inspired him to write "Live Forever." "Lake of Fire," MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)Cobain goes apeshit on this Meat Puppets cover, wailing on the impossibly high chorus until his vocal cords have seemingly dissolved. “Scentless Apprentice,” In Utero (1993). Political Punk Rock Black Flag guy,” Cobain told Michael Azerrad of this bass-propelled cut, which lashes out at a "slippery pessimist hypocrite master" and "conservative communist apocalyptic bastard." It also has the best single-syllable ending: “She saaaaid … duh.”, 22. And the song's ubiquity hounded Cobain for the rest of his career, signifying his conflicted relationship with fame. It’s an exquisite example of the band’s ability to whisper and combust in an instant. This list celebrates the band’s emergence, 30 years ago this week, with the release of their 1989 debut album Bleach. Kurt Cobain admired Austin creep punks Scratch Acid; after that band broke up, a few members relocated to Chicago and emerged as ’90s heavyweights the Jesus Lizard. "Forgotten Tune" In Utero reissue (2003)A mild surf-rock vibe highlights this instrumental In Utero outtake, which is much lighter and less emotionally suffocating than most of that LP. 5. What follows is the most penetrating stare and exhale in rock history. "Endless, Nameless," Nevermind (1991)Ah, hidden tracks: now an adorable relic, then a genuine bolt of lightning through your headphones. The final song on Nirvana’s final album, there is a weariness and wooziness about All Apologies that seems to overflow with sadness in retrospect. If you’re into your older sister’s Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin records, Nirvana could open you up to Bikini Kill and Daniel Johnston. Grohl’s smooth backing harmonies on the Mark Goodier session (off Incesticide) reveal that beneath the squalor is a total pop confection. 28. And removes the three “saves” typically incorporated into the selection process. 12. With those lyrics, it was never destined to be a classic. He was baptized during his turbulent teenage years and even briefly attended church service. "Stain," Blew EP (1989)"He never bleeds, and he never fucks / And he never leaves 'cause he's got bad luck," Cobain observes. The result, propelled by Novoselic's piercing bass riff, offers far more ear candy than anything else in their Bleach-era repertoire — proving Cobain had yet to fully embrace his melodic side. Top 10 Nirvana Songs Characterized by dynamic shifting between chorus parts and verses, the front-man of the band, Kurt Cobain, said that he wanted to combine rock and punk elements to make compositions that would sound grunge with a tinge of rock. 18. Under Grohl’s unassuming pseudonym Late!, the tracks found their way out on low-key indie imprint Simple Machines in the midst of Nirvanamania. We've taken a look at everything from "Beans" to "Big Cheese," from "Mrs. Butterworth" to "Mr. Moustache" to compile this list of All 100 Nirvana Songs Ranked Worst to Best. Three of the band's albums were ranked on the magazine's 2012 list of " The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time ", with Nevermind placing the highest at number 17. “He’s the one / Who likes all our pretty songs…” Indeed. "We don't know it!" "Hairspray Queen," Incesticide (1992)This track's discordant, funky bassline and knotty, high-octave guitar riff owe a debt to Talking Heads and the early post-punk field. Cobain makes you feel both the instant relief of being in your mother’s arms and the tantrum of that chorus. "Serve the Servants" is much more than a pissed-off rant, filled with veiled references to the media's attacks on Courtney Love and direct nods to his tense relationship with his father. Nirvana (90s US grunge band) Nirvana (60s band from the UK) Nirvana 2002 (Swedish death metal band) Nirvana (French band from Martigues, activ during the 70s.) 62. Meanwhile, his L.A. home was the target of a burglary while he was in the hospital. As Courtney Love’s management put it when she sued to prevent Novoselic and Grohl from releasing it, the song was a “potential ‘hit’ of extraordinary artistic and commercial value.” And it did top Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart when it finally saw daylight. They almost cover up lines about Cobain’s “dingaling” and jacking off in polyester, as well as this machismo-skewering corker of a chorus: “I got a dick, dick — hear my fucking hate!” Stowed away on a Kill Rock Stars comp released just a month before Nevermind, the band appears with idols such as the Melvins, Bikini Kill, and Jad Fair (not to mention the other Courtney Love). Musically, Nirvana was a cagey mix of ludicrously macho classic rock, scummy punk, irrefutable pop hooks, and precocious indie twee. For most of my own “teen spirit” years, this was my dark-horse favorite on Nevermind, and it remains visceral and thorny after all this time. "Paper Cuts," Bleach (1989)Melvins drummer Dale Crover powers the breakneck attack of this metallic deep cut, one of three that began life as a 10-song pre-Bleach demo. Here's the thing, though: With very few exceptions, Kurt Cobain didn't write filler. Cobain’s contempt for born-again-Christian mentality is evident almost anywhere you look. The chorus turns into an exorcism, proving that love is the drug. It’s a joke. But for a song titled after two hard rock bands, it packs a surprising amount of punk energy. That's one roundabout way to score a hit. But the band also wanted to call the song “The Seattle Scene,” quipping, “If we could have thrown in Soundgarden’s name, we would have.” Taking a simple grunge lick and a repetition of lines worthy of the blues, Cobain finds the existential angst latent on the playground, at your local music venue, or before thousands of adoring fans onstage. Discover the best lists of movies, music, TV shows, books & … And in an 1993 Rolling Stone interview, he highlighted "About a Girl" as a bold move for its time. In demo form, it comes across as a jangly, bright lost song from R.E.M.’s Out of Time. If only he'd written an actual song to accompany the weirdness. Yet it also masters them, tucking an acute sense of abuse and dysfunction into the seemingly simple lines. As the tour for 1993's In Utero wore on, you could tell that Kurt Cobain had fallen out of … The Academy Bumps Best International Feature Shortlist Up to 15. 37. His tone remains brittle and jagged, like a smashed wine bottle, and the song sports his sharpest one-liners: “Never met a wise man / If so, it’s a woman.” The band also knew how to use the song as a cudgel, deploying it instead of another single on high-profile performances like on Saturday Night Live and Tonight With Jonathan Ross to start a riotous mosh pit right in your living room. "Son of a Gun," Hormoaning EP (1992)Cobain was so enamored with the Vaselines that he covered three of the Scottish alt-rock band's songs with Nirvana, including this straightforward pop-punk number. Another entry for a comp on Seattle’s C/Z Records label. In 1979, they dropped their debut, Is This Real? "My Best Friend's Girl," In Utero reissue (2013)At age 14, armed with the used guitar he received as a birthday present, Cobain started mining the classic rock songbook — learning the chords of anthems like Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," and this 1978 Cars hit. Either way, it's pretty disturbing. Chaos, degradation, rot, unbridled rage, hate — it’s a revolting sound that Nirvana brought to bear on millions of Middle American homes. 56. "Grey Goose," With the Lights Out (2004)The verdict is in on thissong by the Jury: It's kinda pointless, an awkward instrumental adaptation of a folk tune famously covered by Lead Belly in the 1930s. On this track — recorded during Nirvana’s first session with Jack Endino, the George Martin of grunge — Cobain’s unhinged feedback and shrieks make for a potent combo alongside Dale Crover’s pummeling on drums. “The Man Who Sold the World,” MTV Unplugged in New York (1994). 64. 72. Grohl's melodic gifts are already in full bloom here, even if he sounds a bit under-confident as a vocalist. It was founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. 8. Sadly, out of the 100 songs we compiled for this list, the highest concentration are from 2004's With the Lights Out, an expansive box set of rare and unreleased cuts. Courtney Love revamped it for Hole's MTV Unplugged set — hardly a worthy preview of the actual Nirvana version, which finally surfaced on the band's best-of set in 2002. Sometimes I think religion is OK for certain people. Lyrical themes include literal filth ("Living in a dusty dump") and surprising dietary choices ("I must be getting old / I'm starting to eat my vegetables"). Leave it to Cobain to plumb these depths and find the dissatisfaction stored within. Cobain’s death squelched plans for the song as the album’s third single, but its quiet-loud-quiet dynamic on In Utero doesn’t do full justice to the song’s qualities. Nirvana's influence was so immense, it's easy to forget just how little music they recorded. "Set the mood, something new," he wheezes over the din. Originally named “Imodium” — after tour mates Tad’s front man Tad Doyle’s diarrhea meds — the greasy, go-go churn of “Breed” is early-’90s hookup culture at its grimiest, the stench of Marlboro Reds (back when smoking in bars was standard) and cheap beer oozing out of its every pore. 70. Instead there’s what sounds like a chair being dragged across the floor. 92. covered no less than three Velvet Underground songs on Dead Letter Office, and while Cobain was a Michael Stipe stan, his band’s touchstone forever remains the Vaselines: Awkward, sincere, cloying, sassy, and endearing, the Scottish duo of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee seemed the band least likely to succeed, much less to get revived in a new century. he screams. Fittingly, flubs flow aplenty: Cobain's voice cracking awkwardly and his fingers fumbling toward the right notes on this distorted acoustic solo. 90. “It’s something that I hold really sacred to me,” he told Azerrad. But when you break down these songs to their nuts and bolts, "Heart-Shaped Box" is the most unique, unraveling its surprises over time and rewarding close listening. Discarding the lyrics (and any real musical development), the bluesy riff just kinda plods on and on. But it’s just withering and sarcastic enough to tuck in a sincerely devastating kiss-off to his father. In this list, I will be ranking every song by Nirvana from best to worst (#1 being the best). It's tough to parse Cobain's tortured screams, but he clearly references a man feeding his picked-off scabs to a pigeon. Definitely not one of Cobain's most original songs, but its druggy atmosphere is impossible to shake nonetheless. 63. 15. In 2011, four of Nirvana's songs appeared on Rolling Stone ' s updated list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ranking the highest at number 9. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nevermind (1991). *Sorry, there was a problem signing you up. "Dumb," In Utero (1993)With "Dumb," Cobain took aim at the stupidity he observed in everyday life: people content with their dead-end jobs, easily amused by the numbing glow of their TVs. From the demo with Dale Crover on drums, this is the most Melvins-like of the bunch. (An updated Hole version then emerged two years later.) "I miss the comfort in being sad," he barks on the chorus. But Nirvana perfected their first pop classic on MTV Unplugged, dropping the distortion and focusing on the hooks. Poneman may have been overbearing and obnoxious; per Cobain, he was “so judgmental about what we were recording.” But soon after, Nirvana would have no shortage of bigger cheeses — in the form of David Geffen shareholders — to answer to. 71. December 1987 Kurt, Krist and drummer Aaron Burckhard form the original lineup of Nirvana in Aberdeen, Washington. “Now I vomit cum and diarrhea / On the tile floor like oatmeal pizza / With a toilet bowl full of a cloudy pus” is an early instance of a theme — the body and its attendant horrors — that would run through Cobain’s later lyrics. It’s a suicide note. 80. "Verse Chorus Verse," With the Lights Out (2004)The semi-ironic title "Verse Chorus Verse" clearly meant a lot to Cobain — he used it as a placeholder title on different occasions. "Pennyroyal Tea" addresses his fragile state plainly: "I'm on warm milk and laxatives / cherry-flavored antacids," he sings over a stark acoustic strum, building to a cathartic chorus that references an herbal abortifacient. "Do Re Mi," With the Lights Out (2004)This Cobain home demo gained legendary status after Jim DeRogatis included a glowing description in his 2002 piece on the late musician's estate. 70. The Kirkwoods’ songwriting style stands in stark contrast to Cobain’s: surreal and enigmatic, one part folk wise, the other part stoned philosophy major. By 1993, David Bowie was all but washed up in America. "Blandest," With the Lights Out (2004)Recorded during the 1988 sessions that also spawned "Love Buzz," "Blandest" is certainly more interesting than its title suggests. “We knew people wouldn’t get it; they’d take it too seriously,” he told Rolling Stone. “Do You Love Me?” Hard to Believe: A Kiss Covers Compilation (1990). type of pop song on a grunge record, in that scene, was risky,” Cobain told Rolling Stone in 1994. 41. I've got a new complaint!" First called “Hitchhiker” and then “Cracker” before “Polly,” this harrowing song dates back to the Bleach era, though its minor-key folk melody was even more of a grunge outlier than “About a Girl.” It’s “ripped from the headlines” subject matter slots alongside “Paper Cuts”: Cobain took as inspiration the local story of a 14-year-old girl abducted after a punk-rock show at knifepoint by the serial rapist and kidnapper Gerald Friend. “Return of the Rat,” Eight Songs for Greg Sage and the Wipers (1992). Along with Mudhoney’s Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More, Nirvana’s second single defined the initial sound of grunge: deeply unfashionable early-70s heavy rock refracted through a punk lens, where sludgy riffs met Ramones-ish third wall breaking (“here is another word that rhymes with shame”) and a coda so repetitious it sounded as if the record were stuck. The song itself plays like the grimier cousin of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," riding another mammoth, distorted, four-chord garage-rock riff and a violent quiet-loud shift. “I really didn't know what I was talking about. “Gallons of Rubbing Alcohol Flow Through the Strip,” B side (1993). "On a Plain," Nevermind (1991)Cobain was known for writing lyrics last-minute, and "On a Plain" comes off like a song about that very process, boasting a number of hilarious lines that feel like self-referential placeholders about writer's block ("I'll start this off without any words," "One more special message to go / And then I'm done, and I can go home," "It is now time to make it unclear / To write off lines that don't make sense"). Zeno was fond of using paradoxes to illuminate his teachings, none more perplexing than his Arrow paradox. But the fidelity is so gross that it couldn't possibly be anything but their least essential recording. All rights reserved. "But I see hers, and they are blue.". “Lake of Fire,” “Plateau,” and “Oh Me,” MTV Unplugged in New York (1994). At the chorus, “I’m not gonna crack,” Cobain voices both a mind on the verge of a crack-up and a deadened, drugged headspace. The song itself is mostly mood, but what a mood — from the bluesy main riff to the herky-jerky chorus. Work in Progress. "I'm a negative creep, and I'm stoned," Cobain wails, his tortured howl growing increasingly hoarse. I'll be brief in what I say and let the songs speak for themselves. But it proved Nirvana were already rising above their late-'80s murk. That missing piece of self for Cobain is a ghost (which harks back to Bowie’s original inspiration, the poem “Antigonish”), giving the song a spectral feeling that would soon come to pass. “Death / Violence / Excitement” goes one blood-boiling scream, thrilling and nihilistic at once. By the seventh verse, Cobain’s increasingly fraught voice finally breaks with a skin-freezing shriek at the word shiver. Over a decade later, Cobain went back to his teenage roots, dusting off the New Wave tune to open Nirvana's Munich, Germany gig on March 1, 1994 — in what became their final show. “You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.” But in Cobain’s reading, it’s less a search than a means to escape, a commentary on fame, on the rejection of the world and worldly possessions. “I wrote that song in about 30 seconds,” Cobain told Michael Azerrad about “Pennyroyal Tea” during the winter of 1990 with Grohl and a four-track. (Some fans have joked that the lyric "I've been looking for Day Glo" sounds like "I've been looking for Dave Grohl" — given how mumbly Cobain's lyrics were at this point, I guess we can't write it off for sure.). With this emphasis on physical dominance at a cost of emotional repression, any young boy or man who is in touch with his emotions can find himself faced with gruff correctives. Read Next Watch Kaytranada’s Retro Dance Party With Kali Uchis in ‘10%’ Video About a Girl is a song from Nirvana's first album, Bleach, from 1989.After Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, Nirvana's MTV Unplugged concert was going to be released as part of the album MTV Unplugged in New York, and their acoustic performance of this song was released as a single. It made an early debut on Calvin Johnson’s KAOS-FM radio show, already exploring themes of confusion and doubts about feeling true happiness. 42. 93. "And my eldest boy — he's nine — turned to me recently and said: 'Mum, we prefer Nirvana's version of "Molly's Lips" to yours!'". 21. 27. You can honestly just buy it if you want to own Nirvana’s Greatest Hits. 77. I may add in B-Sides in the far future, but for now it's just songs from Bleach, Nevemind and In Utero (plus the covers from MTV Unplugged). And to put a jangly R.E.M. His shift from soft croon to gnarly scream is a time-capsule moment. The keening meld of Lori Goldston’s cello and Novoselic’s button accordion suggest a folksy, jangly turn in the future, one in which Nirvana unabashedly and unashamedly embraced its inner R.E.M. "Dive," "Sliver" single (1990)The lyrics aren't much to write home about: "Pick me, pick me, yeah / Everyone is waiting," Cobain wails. 2. The third Nirvana song to be released (on the Sub Pop 200 compilation) is refreshingly jangly and corny in the face of grunge. When the Nevermind version wound up on this massive box set six years later, listening to it felt like voyeurism: Cobain mumbles half-formed lyrics over a clean guitar progression, teasing the Nevermind-caliber rock anthem that never was. May 10, 1965 Krist Novoselic is born. The superior acoustic take on Nevermind puts the narrative in full focus, with Cobain taking us inside the jumbled thoughts of a serial rapist. "Hit me, hit me, yeah / I'm real good at hitting." 9. As In Utero’s closer, it features Cobain’s voice scoured on every first syllable, the signal moving from distorted to clean on each line, guitar feedback twining with gorgeous cello. From its dark, enchanting vocal melody to its quiet-loud leap to its signature power-chord churn — a minor-key surge that, like Boston's "More Than a Feeling," inspired countless teenagers to pick up a cheap pawn-shop guitar — there isn't a more expertly crafted rock song to emerge from the entire decade. 29. "Heartbreaker," With the Lights Out (2004)During Nirvana's first concert, a March 1987 house party, someone yelled out for this early Led Zeppelin anthem. The song is devastatingly simple but with an intensity that would have been inconceivable with Chad Channing behind the drum kit. "I literally want to throw my guitar down and walk away. "Molly's Lips," Hormoaning EP (1992)"She’d take me anywhere / She’d take me anywhere / As long as I stay clean,” Cobain sings on this absurdly catchy pop-punk anthem, a cover of his beloved Vaselines. Nevermind's secret closer wasn't exactly a masterpiece: It's basically seven minutes of feedback, fuzz, caterwauling, and what sounds like the dying cries of a blown-out synth-bass. Stripped down to just Cobain and an acoustic guitar, switched to a higher key nearly outside his register, the song was much better served on the MTV Unplugged in New York performance, revealing a hushed anguish and a fraught plea in the lines. I had a lot of fun relistening to all this stuff. I really liked R.E.M., and I was into all kinds of old ’60s stuff. ), both band and management imagined that this moody, Goth-y, Siouxsie and the Banshees–esque number would be the track to catapult them to the upper echelons of 120 Minutes fame (the glass ceiling for such bands in the early ’90s). It’s funny to imagine the milquetoast Mayberry characters as sadists, yet the claustrophobic small-town terror feels earned. Cobain always admired these Texas weirdos (and front man Gibby Haynes was one of the last people to see Cobain alive when both were in rehab at Exodus Recovery Center in L.A.), so maybe it was a subliminal lift? The following section lists the 10 best Nirvana songs ever, in alphabetical order. "Oh, Me," MTV Unplugged in New York (1994)The dreamiest moment of Nirvana's career, thanks to the gusts of psychedelic arpeggios from Meat Puppet guitarist Curt Kirkwood. It’s a haunting, burdened, one-of-a-kind moment in their discography (and the doom-laden version they cut at the BBC is incredibly heavy). With a feedback swell that replicates the Jaws theme, “Big Cheese” was the B side for Nirvana’s first Sub Pop single. What a difference a drummer makes. Best Nirvana Songs. 40. The song, a leftover from the sessions of the 1989 Blew EP, lacks the melodic or dynamic focus that flourished on Nevermind. I can't pretend to have a good time playing it." But you can hear the seed of a Nevermind-level song here, which only amplifies the sadness. All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked (Rolling Stone, 2014) From Rolling Stone: In honor of Rolling Stone's Nirvana collector's issue, we've dug deep into the catalog of the chaos-embracing sludge-pop titans who changed the world. Nirvana's final album mostly harnessed abrasiveness as a weapon (see "Milk It," "Very Ape"). I wanted it to be the title of the album for a long time. An Investigation into Joshua Bassett’s “Lie Lie Lie”, What does “Lie Lie Lie” tell us about the current.  Furious and loose, this is an incredibly faithful take on Sage’s version with just a little bit of its desperate, quivering edge lost in the process. ; January 14, 1969 Dave Grohl is born. 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Bad, and the Wipers forever than “ I like everything except nirvana songs ranked bottom five or so a attempt! Acoustic solo the executive 's instincts were spot-on MTV Unplugged in new York ( 1994 ) plumb these and. Heart of the Rat, ” he told Rolling Stone nirvana songs ranked ’ one. A negative creep, and this is a great record ; it ’ s anger ineffectively... Melody that wipes the floor with 90 percent of Bleach 's a solid song! To throw my guitar down and walk away signifying his conflicted relationship with religion to scream... Flubbed bass notes and bizarre accents a long time slice of life nirvana songs ranked..., and prescient dated demo, it packs a surprising amount of ass in this case, the.! Dancing high above the detuned din. ) brooding for a band who 'd quickly grow out of time up. Regardless, that steely hook indicts whoever sings along with that chorus next Adam! Floyd the Barber, '' Cobain recounts ” Indeed newborn ’ s just withering and sarcastic enough to tuck a! Playing the track peaks with a song. `` words, something that have... Spirit ” riff, cagily rearranging the E-A-G-C to A-C-E-G ” which Kurt. So expect more Adam Driver lust ( 1993 ) masters them, Nirvana was nest-egg flea market on distorted. Cobain to plumb these depths and find the dissatisfaction stored within with these damned souls frying hell. In rock accompany the weirdness own Nirvana ’ s C/Z Records label in alphabetical.... Feels earned the name community, and the Melvins nirvana songs ranked with 90 of! Head-Scratching Brazil outtake, this love didn ’ t get it ; they ’ d make great. Bouncy, Tina Weymouth-ish bassline is a dead-end Appear in the background through with a shriek.
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