Nirvana: Drain You

It happened 20 years ago today. An album that eventually pushed Michael Jackson off the charts and put a bullet in the head of the schlock rock that had taken over the radio, hit record stores. And while you're probably being bombarded with facts about Smells like Teen Spirit today, I'm pretty sure that's the worst song on the album.


Okay, to me it's the worst track on the album. Let me put it this way, it's the least awesome track on an amazing album that rightfully became a phenomena and changed the face of music for the better. But at the time of Nevermind's release, I couldn't think of a worse song on the radio than Smells Like Teen Spirit. Blasphemy, I know. Everywhere I went, that damn song blared out of speakers, on the radio, at the mall, in my friend's car on the way to Taco Bell for lunch. For the love of God, I just wanted it to stop.

Then I listened to the entire album. The power of the it knocked me off my pedestal of hate. Everything I hated about popular music was being stripped away by these three guys from Seattle. Like the rest of my peers, I listened to Nevermind again and again. I'd just skip over Smells Like Teen Spirit and bask in the majesty of Breed, On a Plain, and Lounge Act.

Breed encapsulates the sound of Nirvana for me. A great bass line with elements of the Pixie's loud, quiet, loud formula. The lyrics could be about love, drug addiction, or Kurt's fascination with fetuses. Hell, it's probably all three. It rocks, it's catchy, and it made me want to join a band almost immediately. Judging from the rest of the music to be released during the 90s, it had the same affect on others.

Two decades later Nirvana, and especially Kurt Cobain, are praised and studied for changing the music world and becoming "the voice of a generation." Instead of getting caught up in the hype, get in your car with your friends and blast Nevermind. Right after you push play, the magic of the album will wash over you and if you didn't skip over the first track, you'll do your best to scream, "Here we are now, entertain us!" [iTunes, Amazon]


Nirvana: great band, but one with totally horrible successors. I'm fairly convinced that, if not for Nirvana, there wouldn't have been such a great influx of "oatmeal vocal" bands in the late 90s like Puddle of Mudd. So many bands were influenced by them, but in the totally wrong ways. I blame the Pixies for this, too, even though they're insanely good. Great bands, but horrible successors.

Also, if "You Know You're Right," released as a posthumous single, is a sign of where Nirvana was headed, I gotta say, I'm kind of glad they "burned out" vs. "fading away." (Though I am, of course, not glad that Cobain's suicide was the cause of that.)