(ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 7, 2021)
Last month, on Friday, September 24, 2021, was the 30th anniversary of the release of “Nevermind,” an album by Nirvana that has proven to be one of the most influential in history. Not just an icon in the world of rock music, “Nevermind” brought us timeless classics like “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, “Lithium,” “Come As You Are,” and “In Bloom.” Though the album came out three decades ago, and was a complete cultural reset in its infancy, the music on “Nevermind” is still very well known even today, which is an impressive feat in our current climate of fast trends and constant production of all kinds of media.
Nirvana vocalist and lead guitar player Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic met in a rehearsal space they both frequented when they were in highschool. They would start making beautiful music together in 1987, and finally formed Nirvana the next year, releasing singles with heavy influences from the Melvins, Mudhoney, and Black Sabbath. Their debut album “Bleach” was released in June 1989, and a year later they were joined by drummer Dave Grohl who would be with the band for the rest of its time producing music. They signed to DCG Records in 1990, and began work on their next album, “Nevermind,” which would go on to alter the popular music scene in a way that no other album has done.
“Nevermind” went way above and beyond expectations, selling altogether seven million copies in the US, and over thirty million worldwide. Shows were packed to the gills and promotion of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV made Nirvana’s media presence unprecedented.
The American punk scene had not been the same since the 80s when punk music was first starting to decline. In the later part of the 80s into the early 90s, about when Nirvana was getting started, the mainstream stage was taken more with pop music and pop punk bands like Green Day who came onto the scene in 1989. “Nevermind” is credited with the 1990s revival of punk rock, and established Nirvana as a central member of the Seattle grunge movement of the early 90s.
But the real marvel of “Nevermind,” the part that makes it so impressive, is that we are still talking about it today. On Spotify, the band has over twenty thousand monthly listeners as of October 2021, and “Nevermind” song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” surpassed one billion streams just earlier this year. This is music that kids still know even though they were born a decade after it was released. There are so few artists that can be credited with this level of permanence and continued cultural relevance, and it seems that Nirvana is one of the few bands keeping young people interested in the punk scene at all. For this reason, “Nevermind” can be considered one of the most culturally important albums of all time, and hopefully young, angry kids will be blasting “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for many decades to come.