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Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit



With this track, Nirvana helped ignite the grunge craze, which was characterized by loud guitars, angst-ridden lyrics, and flannel. Grunge was a look and sound that was distorted and emotive, led by bands coming out of the Northwest. Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were other top grunge bands of the era, both influenced by the Nevermind album. ("People were passing around advance copies," Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder said. "Everyone was excited about the songs.") Kurt Cobain would often dismiss the term as a meaningless label when asked about it in early interviews, but their bass player Krist Novoselic explained that it was a growling, organic guitar sound that defined it.


Cobain said he wrote this song because he was feeling "disgusted with my generation's apathy, and with my own apathy and spinelessness." This feeling of detachment is what led to lyrics like "Oh well, whatever, nevermind."

Krist Novoselic added: "Kurt really despised the mainstream. That's what 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' was all about: The mass mentality of conformity."


Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the group Bikini Kill, gave Cobain the idea for the title when she spray painted "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his bedroom wall after a night of drinking and spraying graffiti around the Seattle area. In his pre-Courtney Love days, Cobain went out with Bikini Kill lead singer Tobi Vail, but she dumped him. Vail wore Teen Spirit deodorant, and Hanna was implying that Cobain was marked with her scent. Hanna explained that early in the night, she was Cobain's lookout as he spray pained "God Is Gay" on the wall of a religious center that they believed was posing as an abortion clinic and telling women they would go to hell if they aborted their child. They got quite inebriated that night, and Hanna said, "We ended up in Kurt's apartment and I smashed up a bunch of s--t. I took out a Sharpie marker and I wrote all over his bedroom wall - it was a rental so it was really kind of lame that I did that. I passed out with the marker in my hand, and woke up hung over." Six months later she got a call from Cobain, asking her if he could use what she wrote on the wall for a lyric. Said Hanna, "I thought, how is he going to use 'Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit as a lyric?"


Lyrics


Load up on guns, bring your friends It's fun to lose and to pretend She's over-bored and self-assured Oh no, I know a dirty word Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello With the lights out, it's less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido Yeah, hey, yay I'm worse at what I do best And for this gift, I feel blessed Our little group has always been And always will until the end Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello With the lights out, it's less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido Yeah, hey, yay And I forget just why I taste Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile I found it hard, it's hard to find Oh well, whatever, never mind Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello, how low Hello, hello, hello With the lights out, it's less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us I feel stupid and contagious Here we are now, entertain us A mulatto, an albino A mosquito, my libido A denial, a denial A denial, a denial A denial, a denial A denial, a denial A denial



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