Anthem of a Generation

Anarchy, Grunge, and Rebellion. This 90’s hit says it all.


Left-to-right: Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, and Krist Novoselic, the three founding members of Nirvana. Photo Credit: Wes Candela

Tanner Hartwig, Signal Staff Writer

In 1991, the band Nirvana released their second album, Never Mind. Included in the album was by far their biggest hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”  Since then, it has exploded in popularity reaching into the millions. So, is the song really that good? 


To go along with the song, the band released a video. Which, in itself, is rather simple. The band plays in a high school gym, with kids in the bleachers. It constantly cuts back to the custodian. By the end kids are dancing, bobbing their heads to the music. Then, a fire is lit inside the gym and the video ends. 


When looking at the video, it seems like the simplisticness could be a down; however, I believe it compliments the music quite well. FAHS freshman, Jaden Bautzmann, agrees stating, “It kinda captures everything really well.” I would say it earns a solid 8/10. 


The lyrics of the song seem to get lost on a lot of people. This effect has to do both with a hard time understanding what Cobain is singing, and the surrealism of the actual lyrics. FAHS German teacher, Susanne Maroske, weighed in calling the song,“loud, but fun,” resulting in a solid 7/10 for the lyrics.


The music itself is a solid and recognizable beat. The music is really heartfelt and loved. Bautzmann comments,

Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain, and Krist Novoselic pose for an album cover. Photo Credit: Flickr


“there’s just a ton of emotion as he was putting in the lyrics and dancing.” Bautzmann continues stating, “It was a little loud, but that’s the energy of the song.” I would say the music earns a 9/10. 


The level of symbolism and imagery that Cobain uses to tell a story throughout the music leads people to a general consensus that they did not relate adequately with the overall music and lyrics. Ms. Maroske adds that it was “very out there.” A fitting description. As it stands, in my opinion, the overall story of the video earns a 5/10. 

This song was regarded as an anthem for many in its heyday, and still resonates with many young music enthusiasts today. If he were still alive, I would like to think Kurt Cobain would have been proud of its success. So, for the final score this song earns a 5.8/10. The music and lyrics are definitely worth relistening; however, the music video may confuse some audiences.