I have a confession to make — your boy is all dragged out. After seeing my fave Jinkx Monsoon for the second time last night, and watching *DRAG RACE SPOILER* Miz Cracker sashay away on S10 “YALRIGHT NOW*, I feel like a short embargo of Drag Race is necessary. In wake of this, I thought I’d sink myself into an absolutely CLASSIC album, and dissect the bitch, darling. That classic album, if you hadn’t guessed from the title, is Nirvana’s 1991 sophomore smash Nevermind, which blew the band, the genre and the subgenre into the mainstream stratosphere and remains one of the best albums of the decade and all time.
Before we start, I’d like to warn you that this will be a highly subjective ranking (which is code for, no, Smells Like Teen Spirit isn’t number 1) and that the hidden track Endless, Nameless will not be appearing — and also that this will be RANKEDing of the songs from worst to best.
After the triple threat of singles Teen Spirit, In Bloom and Come As You Are, this furious, fuzzy lil’ grunge creature will obviously suffer from a quality dip, which does affect the memorability and quality of this song, even stand-alone. Despite this, the muddy bass mix is absolutely brutal, especially when contrasted to those whining guitars, and Cobain’s wildman vocals.
Lounge Act (#9)
Not one that instantly pops up when you think “great songs from Nevermind“, Lounge Act still has one of the best bass grooves on album abSOLUTELY FULL OF ‘EM, and even if the entire song is built around that and that alone, you’ve still got a helluva deesh rock track.
On A Plain (#11)
Even though this falls near the bottom, it’s by no means a bad song. I love the raucous pop melodies, funky lil’ bass and excellent backing harmonies, echoing Pixies very nicely. However, regardless of any of that, this is still the song with the hook “I’m on a plain/I can’t complain“; my least favourite lyric on one of my favourite albums — how about that.
Something In The Way (#12)
Picking the Unplugged performance for this entry is both a help and hinderance. On one hand, we all get to experience the song in one of it’s purest form. On the other, though, it’s gonna be harder to explain why it’s ranked second from bottom when you’ve got Kurt’s haunting vocals floating above it. Despite the melancholy atmosphere and delicate vulnerabilities, this song does contain, in my eyes, some of Kurt’s weaker lyrics, as well as being quite an anticlimactic way to end such a choatic album.
The better of the two acoustic tracks on Nevermind, in my opinion, Polly‘s genius lies in it’s lyrics. Telling the disturbing story of the rape of a 14 year old girl after a punk show, Cobain’s soft-spoken delivery and ominous guitar lead really antes up the eerie, as does the ghostly backing vocal from Dave. It’s one of Nevermind‘s darkest moments, but a great one nonetheless.
Come As You Are (#3)
Alright, put your pickets down. Okay, NOW put them down. No? Keepin’ ’em up? Fair enough. If I could give a logical argument to why this, the song some consider Nirvana’s best, is below the halfway point, I would. However, I don’t really. The loungey groove and surreal lyrics are some of the best in Nirvana’s catalogue, and Dave’s driving beats give the song a nice, if slightly sedated, bit of energy. My main issue with this track, I think, is that it doesn’t really go anywhere, and is kinda repetitive, noticeably.
Smells Like Teen Spirit (#1)
Right. You can keep your pickets up, but I don’t care this time. Nirvana (and grunge)’s breakout single had a brilliant structure, kickass chorus and one of the most iconic guitar riffs of all time: given. There’s also one of the band’s most effective rhythm sections, regardless of apparent simplicity, and a prime example of Pixies’ long-lasting effect on alt rock, which is always lovely to hear. However, this song is the definition of overplayed, and that has greatly affected my listening of it — and I genuinely think Nevermind has much more to offer than “WITHTHALIGHTSOUTISSLESSDAYNGRUSSSSS“.
Stay Away (#10)
Seen by many as one of the album’s weakest track, I could never get my head around how someone couldn’t love this furious 3 minutes of muddy punk goodness. That opening machine-gun drum roll is classed among my favourite intros of all time, ricocheting off of one of Krist’s finest bass parts. I love the schizophrenic nature of Kurt’s vocal performance, and the key change in the bridge is wonderfully groovy to boot.
Drain You (#8)
“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me” — one of my favourite Nirvana lyrics there. In fact, track number 8 on Nevermind may be my favourite written one, even if the majority of the lines were made up on the spot. It’s also hard to fault the cacophony of filthy multitracked guitars and bombastic snare drum. Moreover, this track is includes one of Kurt’s most bloodcurdling screams, captured perfectly in the ’93 In Utero-era perofrmance above.
Territorial Pissings (#7)
I’ll level with you, a lot of my credability goes down the goddamn sink when I profess my love for this breakneck deep cut, especially over album favourites like Come As You Are and Teen Spirit. However, hopefully, with these words from these fingers, to the keyboard, to the screen, to your face, I can redeem this choice. If you want grunge with a taste of punk, you’re not gonna get better, with Territorial Pissings raucous, crashing beats and filthy guitars, with one of the album’s strongest riffs. Plus, under all that noize, we’ve got a couple of surprising diamonds in the lyrics, including “Just because you’re paranoid/Don’t mean they’re not after you” — oo, chilling.
Widely documented as one of my favourite basslines of all time, Lithium‘s deep-rooted grooves, acting almost within a lullaby capacity, help it to be one of the most infectiously catchy in the band’s catalogue. The hook and structure of the song may seem somewhat repetitive for some — poppycock to that, I say. It’s not the most complex and intricate song, sure, but it rocks the absolute FUH-LIP out, with some lovely lyrical motifs and devilish drum parts as well.
In Bloom (#2)
I’ve always said about any Nirvana fan, you can tell what kind of person you are by your favourite Nirvana song. Reuben’s favourite is Come As You Are, meaning that he is awful, or maybe that’s for other reasons. Anyway, mine is In Bloom, along with my favourite grunge song and one of my favourite songs of the 90s, and indeed, of all time. It’s everything I love about the band; Kurt’s haunting lyrics and fuzzy guitars, Krist’s ominously groovy bass and Dave pounding the absolute SHIT outta KIT — with this particularly being my favourite Grohl performance. The solo is absolutely hostile and ugly, the way I like it, and the structure is perfect, removing any trace of their trademark repetitiveness. It rocks the fuck out, and will instantly get me in a good mood. YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…
So that’s it. Nevermind is an essential album, and this RANKED is almost top-to-toe different in a lot of people’s eyes, so do comment what it is for you. Below, I’ll link to some other grungy/Nirvana-ry business.
OTHER RANKEDS LIKE THIS:
RANKED: Toxicity – System Of A Down – Milo
OTHER GRUNGE ARTICLES:
Top Fifteen Grunge Songs – Milo
Top Fifteen Grunge Songs – Reuben
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations
5 thoughts on “RANKED: Nevermind – Nirvana – Milo”
Interesting to see how these rank… I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it before. I do have my favourites, though. In Bloom, Drain You, Lounge Act, Teen Spirit. Of course, I’m gonna say that I prefer the Smart Studios / Sub Pop version of In Bloom.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Ah that’s fair enough. Although I can definitely get along with the roughness of the alternative, the Geffen mix of In Bloom is just heavier for me.
Great way to go through a (now) classic album. Well done!
LikeLiked by 1 person