On this day twenty years ago, Nirvana released their second album Nevermind, and the whole world stopped. All of a sudden every single human loved grunge, everyone worshipped Kurt Cobain, and corporate pop music was overruled by good rock n roll – all was good in the land.
This is the story I’ve hear from almost every music magazine, website, blog, documentary, and person born before 1979. There has been so much said about this album, almost all of it so positive, that if you didn’t know any better this album is one of the greatest of all time, and Kurt Cobain has now elevated to the status of rock n roll martyr. This album apparently single handedly created grunge, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is apparently the greatest song of the 90s.
Now in 2011, twenty years after its release, Nevermind smells more like 90s cliché than teen spirit. I can name no other album that is so closely associated with a specific time in history than this one, and the quality of the music gets lost in the mix. I’ve listen to this album multiple times in the past couple of years and I went back again for its 20th birthday, every time hoping that I’ll have a sudden realization that will make me love this album.
It never happens.
The album is a mix of mostly good songs with occasional great songs. However, the overall album is underwhelming, and at a certain point I can’t tell one song from another. And don’t get me started on the closing track – It’s very hard for anyone to defend “Something In The Way”. I wouldn’t even considered this to be Nirvana’s best album – I would give that title to In Utero.
There’s no way for me to talk about this and not seem to come across as an ass, and for that I am sorry. I’m not saying this album sucks, it doesn’t. I would still consider this to be one of the best albums of the 90s. However, I cannot believe that this is considered to be the best album to come out the 90s. I think of other albums to come out during that time – Pearl Jam’s Ten, U2’s Achtung Baby, Weezer’s Pinkerton just to name a few – and I’m baffled at why these albums get so little recognition compared to Nevermind.
This is also not a rant against this band. This was a truly talented band; Kurt Cobain was a great songwriter, Krist Novoselic is a hell of a bass player, and I would put David Grohl up there with some of the best drummers alive. I would recommend checking out their MTV Unplugged album to hear some truly great music, or even In Utero.
I guess this is just a rant against Nirvana fans, especially those who weren’t alive when this album came out. To be a teen when this album came out would of been great, but it’s all those teens who have grown up now and are telling us how perfect this album is, and there is a lot lost in translation here for my generation who did not grow up with Cobain and Nevermind.
But hey, what the hell do I know? I was not even alive when this album came out, and so I do not share a bond with Cobain. However I didn’t grow up with The Beatles and I love Abbey Road. I wasn’t alive when London Calling came out, but I still think it kicks ass. I can’t say the same for Nevermind. I am judging this album based solely on the music, and what you get is a better-than-average rock album.
Really I’m just blowing off some steam. I’ve heard so much about this album and every time I listen to this album I just can’t call this is truly great album. I’ll probably get a good scowling on why this album is amazing as soon as I post this. In the end all I can do is complain about how popular this album is – a very hipster thing to do. This album will always be considered a classic, and Nirvana will always be considered one of the most important bands in history.
Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber