Nevermind is Nirvana’s second and most popular studio album. It was released in 1991, featuring the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” which was wildly popular. By early 1992, Nevermind had replaced Michael Jackson’s Dangerous as the number one album on the Billboard 200 chart. The album also included three other successful singles: “Come As You Are,” “Lithium,” and “In Bloom.” The album has been certified diamond and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
Nevermind was responsible not only for bringing the Seattle grunge movement into popular culture but also for bringing alternative rock as a whole into the mainstream. After the success of Nevermind, Nirvana became the “flagship band” of Generation X and the media started to consider lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain the spokesperson of said generation.
It’s hard to really define the sound of Nevermind. It’s not metal, it’s not rock, it’s not pop, it isn’t even punk really. It’s a little bit of all of these mixed and distorted to create a sound that still resounds with fans today. What set Nevermind apart from the rest of the grunge scene happening in Seattle at the time were the pop-like melodies that accompanied every song. However, Nirvana isn’t pop. The melodies are layered with Dave Grohl’s pounding drums and Kurt Cobain’s pissed off vocals. These songs aren’t all rainbows and flowers either. “Polly” is based off the true story of the abduction and rape of a 14-year-old girl and her successful escape from her captor. The song “Lithium” is about a man that turns to religion as a last resort before suicide. While the entire album isn’t this dark, most of Cobain’s lyrics have an undercurrent of pain and rage that drives his vocals to powerful emotional heights, which give this album the spark that really resonates with audiences from all over. Each of these pieces separately wouldn’t work, the melody, the raging rhythm, the broken and angry vocals, the dark lyrics, but together they are magical, and they pushed a small town grunge band into the mainstream, changing the 90s music scene, and consequently the current music scene, permanently.