Nirvana (Band)

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Country United States
Style Grunge
Alternative Rock
Year 1988-1994

Nirvana was a grunge rock band from Aberdeen, Washington, formed by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic in early 1988. They first achieved mainstream success with the release of their single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in 1991. Since their debut, over 60 million Nirvana albums have been sold worldwide, making the band one of the most popular non-active musical acts in history.[1] Cobain, the band's lead singer and guitarist, was often labeled as the "spokesman for a generation", referring to Generation X.[2] Cobain committed suicide on April 5, 1994, in his Seattle home. After Nirvana disbanded, drummer Dave Grohl formed Foo Fighters, which was labeled a post-grunge band.

Group members[3]

  • Kurt Cobain - guitar and vocals
  • Krist Novoselic - bass
  • Dave Grohl - drums
  • Chad Channing - drums (left 1989)


Title Release year Singles
Bleach 1989 "Love Buzz"
Nevermind 1991 "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Come as You Are", "Lithium", "In Bloom", "On a Plain", "Polly"
In Utero 1993 "Heart Shaped Box", "All Apologies", "Rape Me", "Pennyroyal Tea"

Moral impact of Nirvana

The moral impact of Nirvana is difficult to gauge directly from their lyrics, as the band pursued an extremely abstract form of songwriting. Few of the band's songs give a direct plotline, and can only be concretely judged for appropriateness by the overall "theme" of the expressions and vocabulary used.

Themes of nihilism and alienation

Probably the most condemning argument which can be made against Nirvana is that their music fails to be morally uplifting, such as being nihilist.

"Silence /Here I am /Here I am /Silent. /Bright and clear /It's what I am /I have Died"—Endless Nameless (Nevermind album)

"I've got some rope/ You have been told/ Promise you/ ever true/ Let me take a ride/ Cut yourself/ Wants some help/ To help myself."—Polly (New Wave)

  • However, it must be noted that "Polly" was written in response to a series of rapes in the area, and was written to prevent the act of rape rather than promote it

The most clearly objectionable song performed on a Nirvana album was their cover of the song "Jesus Don't Want Me for a Sunbeam" (originally by indie rock band The Vaselines) on the "Unplugged in New York" album. The song is a disrespectful parody of the Sunday School song "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam", in which the lyrics are mocked with atheistic messages:

"Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam/ Sunbeams are not made like me/ Don't expect me to cry/ For all the reasons you had to die/ Don't ever ask your love of me."—Jesus Don't Want Me for a Sunbeam (Unplugged)


  1. Elvis No Longer King of Dead Celebrities, ABC News
  2. Kurt Cobain, Misunderstood Spokesman of the Generation X