One of the greatest-selling albums turns 30 this year, and it still sounds great to this day. Nirvana was one of the pioneers of grunge, and their second album was the most pivotal. The 1990s were a huge time for all music, but they were just the start for grunge. This new genre was explorative with its themes, and Kurt Cobain helped kick start it.
“Nevermind” is one of the greatest albums of all time, popularizing the Seattle grunge movement and setting the tone of rock for generations to come.
In this album, Nirvana changed their style because front man Kurt Cobain wanted to write pop songs and drew on the influence of bands like the Pixies, The Smithereens, R.E.M. and the Melvins. Cobain also decided to use hard-rock power chords and extreme dynamic changes.
Using this new style, they went on to influence other popular bands during their time, their future albums becoming the guide to this new genre of alternative rock. “In Utero,” their subsequent album, bore a strong similarity to “Nevermind,” the sound being almost the same. Leading the new genre gave them the power to guide the rock genre for their entire career.
Every song on this album fits the band’s style of guitar-heavy rock. Even the acoustic songs “Polly” and “Something In The Way” are fantastic for their simplicity. The whole album is a love letter to the bands Cobain listened to. Cobain’s vocals are harsh and rough and his singing isn’t the best, but that’s exactly what makes this album so good. His screaming vocals during the choruses and low, emotionless vocals during the verses create such a dynamic sound that other bands can only hope to replicate.
This album was a favorite of Generation X, but the love stretches beyond that. People from any generation can enjoy music from any time.
Some bands and artists took heavy inspiration from Nirvana, including Weezer, Bush and even Lana Del Ray. The entire pop-punk genre was created at the tail end of the grunge era by blending the pop sound with harsh rock. This makes Nirvana the standard for any other pop-punk band.
Other bands like The Front Bottoms, whose vocals are purposely not great, probably took their inspiration from Cobain and his harsh style.
Nirvana at the time was going through many changes. For one, they were searching for a record label to take them. They had also just lost their drummer. The band finally figured everything out around the same time that Dave Grohl, now known for his band Foo Fighters, joined.
There’s a reason “Nevermind” is in the Library of Congress. It is a very important album for rock, as well as for music in general. It and Nirvana eventually shaped how music sounds today.
“Nevermind” mostly stays away from the noisy, dry, crunchy style they used in “Bleach,” their first album from 1989. Moving away from this style doesn’t mean they did not learn from it.
Some of the songs on “Nevermind” still use this loud style, but they mix new styles in with it, and that is what really carries the album.
This album kickstarted the grunge and pop-punk genres and continues to impress listeners every day. It’s a great listen through and through, from the very popular and loud “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to the acoustic and emotionless “Polly,” this album hits every mark. The entire album is the best example of grunge music that ever existed.
– The Fender Mustang that Cobain played during recording can be seen in the music video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
– “Polly” is the only song on the album to feature the drumming of Chad Channing, the drummer before Grohl.
– The original title for the album was “Sheep” since this was going to be Cobain’s manifesto about conformity, but later he requested to change the name to “Nevermind,” an often proscribed spelling of “never mind.”
– “Nevermind” actually knocked Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” off the first spot on the Billboard 200.