Back to song list

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit - Lyrics Meaning

"Smells Like Teen Spirit," the lead single from Nirvana's Nevermind (1991), was a huge critical and commercial success. It climbed to number six on the Billboard Hot 100, and is often considered to be the song that allowed alternative rock music to enter the mainstream. Nirvana became the heroes of Generation X, and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became their anthem of revolution. Kurt Cobain claims that he wrote the song because he was trying to create the ultimate pop song, and took his inspiration from the Pixies, the American alternative rock band. One theory states that the song was written about Cobain's relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Tobi Vail. The title, according to legend, comes from an experience Cobain had with his friend Kathleen Hanna, the lead singer of Bikini Kill, the American feminist punk band that pioneered the Riot Grrrl movement. Hanna allegedly spray-painted the phrase "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his wall, meaning the deodorant called Teen Spirit, which then-girlfriend Tobi Vail used to wear. At the time, however, Cobain and Hanna had been discussing punk music, anarchy, and revolution, so Cobain interpreted the slogan as rebellious and revolutionary. Cobain claimed that he was unaware of the deodorant's existence until after the release of the single.

Meanings of other songs by Nirvana:

Visit Music Banter - The Internet's Top Music Community

Add your own interpretation and discuss lyrics of this song: