The 11 Best Nirvana Songs

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Nirvana has been in the news a lot lately, and it hasn’t exactly been for anything all that uplifting. First, it was a story about reopening the case of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, and then it was a story refuting that one. So, enough of this ridiculous reporting. Don’t even get me started on CNN! It’s all just plain upsetting. Plus, I won’t name any names, but one of my coworkers said yesterday that he felt Nirvana was overrated. Naturally, I set out to disprove him.


So combining my efforts to prove the wonder that is Nirvana, alongside my desire to celebrate the band that defined a generation, here are my eleven favorite Nirvana songs.

I’m sure you won’t agree with me on the entire list, so feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section of this post. Honestly, I’d love to hear your comments.

Side note: I wanted to keep it to ten songs, but it was just too difficult!

1) Pennyroyal Tea:

Admittedly, my second favorite Nirvana song after “Heart Shaped Box,” this song is great both on In Utero and when Cobain performs it solo on the MTV Unplugged in New York album. And as an insomniac, few lyrics resonate with me more than “I’m so tired I can’t sleep.”

2) Dumb:

One of the more relatable songs for me, “Dumb” really reaches into the depth of human emotion. And the opening lyrics, “I’m not like them but I can pretend the sun is gone but I have a light” get me every time. Plus, there’s just something amazingly eerie about that cello on the track.

3) Heart-Shaped Box:

Well, it’s my favorite. You don’t really need to know more than that.

4) Come As You Are:

Who doesn’t find comfort in that sentiment?

5) Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam:

Well, it’s a cover Nirvana performed on MTV Unplugged in New York, but I love it. Something about Cobain talking about Jesus just makes my life. And the song is uncharacteristically cheery for the band. Plus, Krist Novoselic playing accordion is perfect.

6) About a Girl:

Off their first album, Bleach, “About a Girl,” is a classic, and heck it’s even a little romantic. I said A LITTLE.

7) Drain You:

Here’s where Cobain pulls out all the romantic stops. At least for him. Only Nirvana could have a song so sentimental yet disturbing.

8) Polly:

Because it’s that song that haunts you as you try to fall asleep.

9) Rape Me:

You just can’t skip it…try as you might.

10) All Apologies:

Definitely another painfully relatable song. Something about Cobain singing “I wish I was like you” on the MTV Unplugged in New York session that makes it even more powerful.

11) Smells Like Teen Spirit:

As much as Kurt Cobain hated it, I love it. Plus, the music video is so 90s.

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  • Marc Steel

    Great list! I’ll never forget the first time I heard SMLTS or how I found out Kurt was gone. I DID however forget how artful everything they did was. I don’t know if anyone since has had the balance of rage, beauty, pathos and power.