Meaning of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana & Story

Modern society cannot be imagined without advertising, which has occupied television, radio and print media. The appearance of a close-up in the frame of a feature film of the packaging of a product or the use of cars from one manufacturer in the whole picture also does not surprise anyone. Everyone understands that such “accidents” are generously paid.

But it wasn’t always like that, as the story behind the song Smells Like Teen Spirit confirms. In the name, Kurt Cobain immortalized Mennen’s famous Teen Spirit deodorant without getting a dime from it. Moreover, it happened quite by accident.

The song “Smells like teen spirit” is perhaps the most famous song by Nirvana. Absolutely every person on Earth has heard her motive at least once, so they will be able to recognize her. And her motive is quite simple and memorable, which makes “Smells like teen spirit” very recognizable. However, in addition to sound, you need to understand the meaning of the song. Otherwise, its value among creativity is lost. So what was Kurt Cobain singing about? What values ​​is the song “Smells like teen spirit” trying to convey to us? Let’s figure it out.

The story of creation and the meaning of Smells Like Teen Spirit

One day, his girlfriend Kathleen Hanna wrote the phrase “Kurt smells like teen spirit” (“Kurt smells like Teen Spirit”) on the wall of Kurt’s house, meaning that Cobain smells like his girlfriend’s deodorant. But Cobain took her words literally (like “Kurt has a teenage spirit”), because he had no idea about this brand. He really liked the rebellious overtones of the expression and used it in the song.

According to the Nirvana leader, he wrote Smells Like Teen Spirit in an attempt to “write an extremely pop song” in the vein of the Pixies, a band he really liked. In the initial version, it consisted of a guitar riff and a vocal part of the chorus. The rest of the band didn’t like the song, but Kurt insisted they work on it. As a result of an hour and a half of joint efforts, the final version of Smells Like Teen Spirit appeared.

The song is considered a teenage anthem, and Cobain himself stated that it is about his comrades. He said:

We still feel like teenagers, because we do not profess the principles that are expected of us as adults … This is something like a teenage revolutionary theme.

Kurt later said that he wanted to “describe how I perceived my environment, generation and people of my age.” He also claimed that “the song is made up of conflicting ideas”, that it “pokes fun at the very idea of ​​revolution”.

Music critics and fans of Nirvana tried to find other interpretations of Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Dave Grohl said that he did not believe in the existence of any meaning in it. Say, Kurt often wrote lyrics in a few minutes, picking up good rhymes and filling in the gaps with more or less suitable words.

In general, people who write professionally about music are paid to find something interesting in famous songs, and fans are ready to accept any crazy idea if they like it.

The meaning of the title of the song “Smells like teen spirit”

The translation of the title sounds like “Smells like the spirit of a teenager.” That is, even the name indicates the main problem and theme of the musical work, namely teenage rebellion. It is at this time that everything and everyone is denied, as well as the psychological formation of a person.

Hence the desire to destroy everything and everyone arises. The song “Smells like teen spirit” perfectly shows this period and clearly demonstrates the “explosions” that occur in the soul of a teenager.

The meaning of the song “Smells like teen spirit”

Each verse is a separate aspect of the life of a teenager of that time. Although, in fact, only the forms of embodiment of this rebellion change, but not its essence.

The first verse is the most vivid embodiment of teenage rebellion and the desire to destroy everything old. So Kurt suggests loading the guns. Only these are rather metaphorical guns. With their help, he offers to part with illusions. Apparently, human consciousness is moving to the stage of understanding what is happening around. In other words, children grow up and see everything that happens around. And they obviously don’t like it.

The chorus captures the essence of teenage change. Everything is ready to “cheer” them. Mosquito, libido, albino – absolutely everything. Most likely, this is an appeal to the fact that even in a difficult situation, everyone is trying to find at least something good, especially for teenagers. It’s hard for them to get used to the “world of adults”, so they try to distract themselves.

The second verse shows that every teenager feels weaker than others. Even his best qualities are always inferior to those of others at the usual level. By this, Kurt is trying to show us that often teenagers suffer from the realization of their helplessness and the absence of some unique talent. But, as a rule, this is due only to a pessimistic view of the world and oneself.

The third verse demonstrates an approach often used by teenagers. They use illegal substances that help them take their minds off the world around them. All horrors, fears – all this goes away. Yes, it’s hard to get these substances banned in many countries, but this rarely stops them, and sometimes even spurs them on, because “extreme” for a teenager is cool.

Such is the song! In general, it is aimed at designating teenage rebellion, denying everything around, as well as getting at least some joy from life, even during a period of depression. All these problems are well known to everyone who was in adolescence, when the personality is being reshaped. And that’s exactly what Kurt Cobain sings about in his song “Smells like teen spirit”!

Release and achievements

Smells Like Teen Spirit was chosen as the first track and lead single of Nevermind. Unexpectedly for Cobain and his colleagues, the song became super popular. It peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts in many other countries, becoming one of Nirvana’s biggest hits.

Now back to advertising. As you might expect, the song’s wild popularity made Teen Spirit deodorant the top seller in its segment. This is currently the name of one of the Lady Speed ​​Stick antiperspirants.

Video Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit music video was directed by Samuel Baier, who was inspired by Jonathan Kaplan’s Over the Edge and Alan Arkush’s Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (second the picture starred the Ramones).

The video won two awards at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards and was later ranked #4 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Videos.

Interesting Facts

  • Smells Like Teen Spirit is the only song on Nevermind that is credited to three Nirvana members.
  • The opening guitar riff is reminiscent of the chorus melody from Boston’s More Than a Feeling.
  • Due to Kurt’s slurred voice and the specific manner of performing, it is very difficult to understand the lyrics without knowing him. For this reason, many radio stations initially refused to put Smells Like Teen Spirit on the air.
  • For a long time, Courtney Love did not agree to the use of the song in the film “Moulin Rouge” by Baz Luhrmann. Now living Nirvana members claimed that she wanted the lead role, which went to Nicole Kidman.

Lyrics Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Load up on guns and bring your friends
It’s fun to lose and pretend
She’s over bored and self-assured
Oh no, I know a dirty word
Hello, hello, hello, how low? x3
Hello, hello, hello!

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us
A mulatto
An albino
A mosquito
my libido

I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed
Our little group has always been
And always will until the end
Hello, hello, hello, how low? x3
Hello, hello, hello!

And I forget just why I taste
Oh yeah, I guess it makes me smile
I found it hard, it’s hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind
Hello, hello, hello, how low? x3
Hello, hello, hello!

A denial!! x9

Lyrics of the song Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana Alternative

Load your guns and bring your friends
Playing and pretending is fun
She is very bored and overconfident
Oh no, I know the swear word
Hello, hello, hello, how rude? x3
Hello Hello hello!

With the lights off it’s not so dangerous
Here we are, entertain us
I feel like a contagious jerk
Here we are, entertain us
My libido

I’m worse at what I do best
And I consider this gift a blessing
Our little company has always been
And always will be until the very end
Hello, hello, hello, how rude? x3
Hello Hello hello!

And I just forget how I feel
Oh yeah I guess it makes me smile
I think it’s hard, hard to find
Oh well, whatever, never mind
Hello, hello, hello, how rude? x3
Hello Hello hello!

Negation! x9

Song quote

I tried to write the most pop song. Basically, I was trying to rip something off the Pixies. I have to admit it

Kurt Cobain

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