The Story of Nirvana’s Unexpected Hit

Smells Like Teen Spirit pic
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Image: nirvana.com

Max Edelsack received his bachelor’s degree in sports communication from Marist College in 2016. A music lover, Max Edelsack’s favorite band is Nirvana.

Formed in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington, Nirvana has turned out to be one of second-generation punk’s most successful acts. After the release of their sophomore album, 1991’s Nevermind, Nirvana changed alternative rock, bringing the genre into the mainstream.

The band’s iconic song is Smells Like Teen Spirit, the lead single from Nevermind. At the time, the song was considered an unlikely hit.

The dominating artists on the 1991 pop charts were singers like Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey. Compared to the current hits, Smells Like Teen Spirit was considered loud and unintelligible, yet the song reached number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

NPR columnist Guy Raz believes that Smells Like Teen Spirit became a hit because it appealed to the so-called “slacker generation.” While the song was expected to resonate with angst-ridden teenagers, it became a crossover anthem that was popular with the mainstream audience.

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