Loudwire Asks Rock + Metal Artists: What is Your Favorite Nirvana Song and Why?
Tomorrow (April 5, 2014), will be the 20th anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain‘s death. The music of Nirvana has remained timeless over the past two decades, influencing an entire new generation of musicians. In this celebration of Cobain’s life, we asked some of rock and metal’s finest artists to name their favorite Nirvana song.
In our first tribute to Kurt Cobain, over a dozen musicians explained what the music of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana meant to them. This second half of our Cobain memorial stretches from radio-friendly rock to extreme metal, as prominent artists from around the world share their favorite Nirvana song and how it impacted their lives.
Check out the answers we received below!
What is Your Favorite Nirvana Song and Why?
When I first heard ‘Heart-Shaped Box,’ I had to literally rewind to make sure I heard what I did. The dynamics in the recording are explosive. A perfectly written and arranged song.
The whole thing is amazing — the last real renaissance period in popular music.
The first time I ever played guitar while singing along was to ‘Pennyroyal Tea.’ It opened up a whole new world to me. It was the combination of singing the melody and playing the right chords and the right rhythm that blew me away. Before attempting that song, I never had been coordinated enough to strum chords and sing a melody. It’s so powerful to feel a song come out of yourself. No matter how bad it sounded to anyone who was unfortunate enough to hear me, it was music to my ears. The brilliance of the song was its simplicity. As music does, just hearing ‘Pennyroyal Tea’ takes me back to my bedroom in Hartford, Wisconsin when I was 12 years old on the black Charvel I was renting from Hartford music. It’s a vivid memory of discovering the power of music.
‘Territorial Pissings’ was one of those songs that was very aggressive but had this very catchy element to it. Punk attitude but very musical and melodic at the same time. Kurt was a genius in that way.
‘Heart-Shaped Box’ would have to be my favorite Nirvana song. I loved how it was mellow and powerful all at the same time, plus I always loved the video but never really truly understood it.
‘Heart-Shaped Box.’ The lyrics! Can’t go wrong with meat-eating orchids, an umbilical noose & a magnet tar-pit trap.
I think ‘You Know You’re Right’ really sticks out for me. Recently, I’ve been pretty horse as we have been on the road solid since August 2012, playing over 200 shows worldwide in support of our album, ‘Filthy Empire.’ My voice is gnarled up and pretty gravely at the moment so I really enjoy sound checking with ‘You Know You’re Right’ right now. There’s a lot of passion with the way Kurt emitted his sound, there’s certainly not another soul like his, and that song for me just gets me going.
I like the material off of ‘Bleach’ the most, I think. Really raw. Hard to pick one single song as I do like a lot of their material, spread out over all their releases and I’m not a HUGE fan.
My favorite is song is ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit'; but not for the obvious reasons like it “killed hair metal” or “changed the world!” It’s because I played it at a talent show with a group of friends before anyone else knew the song. When we played the song everyone in the audience stared at us like we were crazy and were wondering what the hell we were playing! A month later it was the biggest song on the planet and everyone thought we were the coolest band for covering the song before anybody else. I’m pretty proud of that and that’s why it’s my favorite: it brings back great memories of my first public performance!
Favorite Nirvana song would probably be ‘Dive’ from ‘Incesticide.’ The song comes out swinging, has a sick ass groove and once again proves simple is sometimes better.
The one that really got my attention was ‘In Bloom.’ I remember all the Nirvana hype which I was trying to ignore because it’s my natural reaction to avoid what’s popular. I remember having MTV on in the background one day and the video for ‘In Bloom’ came on. That chorus was catchy as hell and stuck in my head for days. It was infectious plus the riff was cool. They reminded me, strangely, of the Police on steroids.
My favorite Nirvana song will have to be ‘Something In The Way.’ One of the slowest but most powerful songs ever written in my book. I mean, Kurt wrote the song from the soul about his struggles with life and every kid connected. I had the ‘Nevermind’ tape as a kid and I loved ‘Teen Spirit’ and ‘Territorial Pissings,’ but ‘Something In The Way’ summed the whole record up and was the song I listened to at least 90 million times ’til the tape got stuck in the deck haha. I can’t imagine the ‘Nevermind’ record without it.
My favorite Nirvana song probably has to be either ‘Territorial Pissings’ or ‘Breed.’ Both of those songs are great and it hard to just choose one. When I first heard those two songs, my mind was blown because at that point in my life I wasn’t really too exposed to the harder side of music. I was probably like 9 years old when I purchased the CD just because my cousin would always be hyping up Nirvana. They actually happened to become one of my favorite bands and one of my biggest influences in pursuing a career in music.
‘About a Girl’ and since I got to explore it even further, ‘Something in the Way.’ I also always loved their take on ‘Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.’
‘The Man Who Sold the World’ always stood out to me. Something about the mood of the song and the way it rolled off Kurt’s tongue. It just felt like he meant it.
‘In Bloom’ would be my favorite. It’s a killer song. It’s got one of their heaviest chord progressions. It’s a great recording and a great performance also.
Its hard to name the ONE. But I am gonna have to say ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ To sum up Nirvana, I think, this is the one that did it for me. It’s straight up, 4-chord rock ‘n’ roll with melodic and emotional screaming vocals, catchy chordal riffs, and thunderous drums … you get ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’
My favorite Nirvana song is undoubtedly ‘Drain You.’ It’s just such a banger. Delicate, innocent lyrics and such a damn strong verse riff. Best 4 chords I’ve ever heard. “One baby to another says I’m lucky to met you.”
My favorite album is probably ‘In Utero’ — favorite song though, ‘Stay Away’ from ‘Nevermind.’ Pretty much the ultimate Nirvana song for me — you have Dave Grohl pretty much full blast the whole song, killer bass like by Krist, catchy melody, great vocal performance by Kurt and the energy they captured on it is second to none. Can you tell I’m a fan?