Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

THIS DAY IN MUSIC…………………………….on September 10th of 1991 the alternative band Nirvana released a single from the LP Nevermind.  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was written by Kurt Cobain, the groups guitarist and lead singer. The song came together in a jam session when he played it for the band. He said: “I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off The Pixies.” Kathleen Hanna, the 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. Cobain didn’t know it when he wrote the song, but Teen Spirit is a brand of deodorant marketed to young girls. Kurt thought Hanna was complimenting him on his rebellious spirit, as someone who could inspire youth. Sales of Teen Spirit deodorant shot up when this became a hit, even though it is never mentioned in the lyrics. This was the first “Alternative” song to become a huge hit, and in many ways it redefined the term, as “alternative” implies lack of popularity and the song was embraced by the mainstream. In an effort to save the label for acts like Porno For Pyros and Catherine Wheel, some industry folk referred to the genre as “Modern Rock,” which became a common radio format. “Alternative” became more of a catchall for music played by white people that didn’t fit the pop or country formats, and Nirvana quickly became a “Classic Alternative” band. The song peaked at #6 in the US and #7 in the UK.