On September 24, 1991, undoubtedly the most popular alternative music album of all time was released. You probably know it, if you don’t already own it. Nevermind ring any bells? Can you believe it’s been almost 26 years? I can. It’s existed as long as I can remember. Now I know what you’re thinking. “What the fuck would a kid who wasn’t even around when it was written know about Nevermind?” And in fairness maybe nothing. But what I do know is what’s happened ever since.
Since it’s release, Nevermind has become an alternative juggernaut. It’s not only Nirvana’s best-selling album, convincingly, with over 30 million sales worldwide, it’s the teen angst anthem of an entire generation. In addition, it’s the third most popular album of all time behind Adele and Metallica (streaming included). And all this begs the question: why is it still so heavily listened to after all these years?
Nirvana’s ubiquitous mystique is partly responsible for the band’s popularity. The world never truly got to know the mind of front-man Kurt Cobain before his untimely death. However, that’s not the sole reason for Nirvana’s fame, because it’s Nevermind’s pop influences that have allowed the album – as well as the band – to remain relevant, even to this day. Cobain had a vision for Nevermind to be more polished than Nirvana’s previous releases. This vision strayed from the Seattle grunge scene but offered an opportunity to achieve bigger things with major label DGC Records. And the vision paid off when the band’s spearhead got his wish. Although Nevermind is the epitome of grunge, Butch Vig’s clean production when compared to Nirvana’s debut album, Bleach, resulted in a heavier pop sounding record, one filled with melodic guitar riffs and the band’s trademark soft/heavy dynamic – most prevalent within tracks ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘Lithium’.
Despite the added gloss of its pop influences, Nirvana’s Nevermind has become a staple for listeners from all musical backgrounds. The impact Nirvana’s sophomore album made was crucial. But Nevermind bridged the gap between the alternative and the mainstream, popularising the DIY sound produced on the album. Without Nirvana proving that success could be achieved through their iconic garage soundscape, bands such as Silverchair, Arcade Fire and Tame Impala – those with a heavy home-made dynamic – wouldn’t exist in the same light, or perhaps wouldn’t exist at all.
It only takes the album opener and global smash hit ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ to become hooked on Nevermind. But everyone is a fan of that track, and if you keep listening, right through to the acoustic-driven closer ‘Something In The Way’, you might also become a fan of Nirvana. Nevermind is THE alternative classic, and it’ll remain so until Earth is a grunge-barren wasteland.