Top 10 Nirvana Songs

June 08 22:20 2014

Unfortunately, music geniuses come in many forms, including tortured souls. Kurt Cobain is legend. The legend of who he was and what transpired during his short life adds to the mystique of him and his music.

Many questions still loom, but that’s okay.

During the early to mid-90’s, Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl and Chris Novolesic brought us the most interesting and possibly heart-felt music we have heard in quite some time. Lyrics deep in many moods offered joy to not only grunge lovers, but the mainstream as well.

Their first hit album Nevermind was a breakthrough of epic proportions in 1991, according to The album featured “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which still ranks in the hearts of most Nirvana fans as their top tune.

Upon Cobain’s self-inflicted death in April of 1994, the music community asked many questions and felt many sorrows. Sometimes though, the questions not asked lead to a better remembrance of the legend and his music.

Here is our list of the Top 10 Nirvana songs of all time:

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All apologies (Unplugged)

Perhaps the most shocking turn of events in the history of Nirvana was their bold move to go unplugged. In 1994, shortly before Cobain’s death, Nirvana teamed up with MTV to release the album Unplugged in New York, according to

This album changed everything.

For many who could not grasp the grunge-sound of the band, the unplugged change of pace offered a brilliant compromise and further revealed many things about Cobain. All of a sudden people saw Nirvana in a much different light, an honest and humble light.

“All Apologies” became an instant classic after the unplugged release, and the title completely represents the story of the song.

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Heart Shaped Box

The band needed a strong follow-up to their breakthrough Nevermind album, and it’s just what they did with the release of In Utero.

The first release for the album was “Heart Shaped Box” and fans could not get enough.

What is most definitely remembered about this release is the controversial music video (yes kids there used to be music videos on MTV in the 90’s). It featured a girl in Ku Klux Klan aspired attire; an old-man being nailed to a cross; and “Wizard of Oz” imagery.

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In Bloom

“In Bloom” was another hit release from the Nevermind album, but much like “Heart Shaped Box” this song is remembered more by the video.

The entire set is poking fun at old-time variety shows, yet includes a grunge feel that was appreciated by many. The left-handed guitar-playing Cobain is actually smiling in this video. Ladies and gentlemen, take a picture of that and hold on to it dearly.

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About a Girl (Unplugged)

When you hear the audience clapping in joy-full anticipation of a Nirvana song, you most likely know what setting it took place in: Unplugged in New York.

“About a Girl” has many interpretations of what the lyrics actually mean to Cobain. Is it a random-generalized sense of a relationship? Or is he speaking about somebody specifically?

The raw sound of Cobain and the soft rifts of this piece creates a match made in heaven.

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Rape Me

How could such a simple rift and simple lyric set make a song so popular in the minds of many? Well because it’s mysterious in its very nature.

“Rape Me” was a classic hit from the In Utero album that caught many off-guard simply by the title of the song. Just under three-minutes in length, this song captures what Nirvana became famous for: a soft lyric base and a loud chorus, brilliantly mixing the two.

Go to a garage in any guitar-loving youngster in “Any-Town USA” and ask him when he learned to play the “Rape Me” rift. He will give you the answer in short order as it’s wildly popular among amateur artists.

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“Lithium,” much like Nirvana, crept up the ranks without much notice to anybody. Again, coming from the Nevermind album, it was one of the songs that could be considered more in the “Pop-Rock” category.

The song sticks in your head like a bad cold, yet you do not want it to go away because of its uplifting nature.

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Something in the Way

Very dark and disturbing, yet making complete sense is how most describe “Something in the Way.” Another release from the Nevermind album, this one hits home for Cobain as it represents him the rawest of forms.

The band then performed it again on the “Unplugged” album. Deciding which release is better is a futile exercise though as they are so similar in sound.

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Pennyroyal Tea (Unplugged)

Another classic that was done brilliantly in studio and live unplugged was “Pennyroyal Tea.” Off of the In Utero album, the voice of Cobain in this piece tells the story.

The secret of many vocalists with not so stellar voices is in the lyrics. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and many others have gotten away with this for many years.

“Pennyroyal Tea” hits you like a ton of bricks if you actually listen to the lyrics for what they are.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit

The original that made the band a cult following, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The music video could be summarized in one word: What? Nobody knows what’s going on and trying to analyze it will make anybody head spin, including Cobain’s.

The power of this piece comes in how many youngsters could relate to the story. Describing adolescent behavior in many ways, and interpreting that there is no right way to behave.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” will most certainly live on to the end of time.

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Where Did You Sleep Last Night (Unplugged)

Although most Nirvana lists will have “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at the top spot, this one does not. First of all, the unplugged album deserves a song to sit in the top spot, and the powerful “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” fits the bill perfectly.

Many of Cobain’s songs represent human emotion. Emotion that is saddening and desperate. Emotion that Cobain does not know how to deal with, or how to react appropriately. The brutal honesty of the lyrics in this classic piece tells a story of a simple man with strong emotions.

Powerful, yet quiet at the same time is how “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and many other Nirvana classics will be remembered.



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Robby Sabo
Robby Sabo

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