Sept. 24 marked the 25th birthday of Nirvana’s foray into the popular music scene: their second album, "Nevermind." Like most other grunge records, their debut, “Bleach,” had not sold well outside of their home city of Seattle, and it wasn’t until their second that the world really paid attention to the genre on the whole. For this reason, among others, "Nevermind" could be considered one of the most consequential LPs of all time.
When the trio released the 12-track work in 1991, they — along with their respective music scene — were launched into the spotlight. The first song on the album singlehandedly garnered enough attention to knock then Billboard No. 1 Michael Jackson to second place. Titled “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” the ballad of teenage angst underscored the many themes of the entire album and even the entire genre. This theme of angst is fueled by the resentment Nirvana and other grunge artists felt for the hair-metal bands of the 1980s, the defined disdain they had for the established government and a disillusionment with monotony in general.
At first, there was a push back against this thematic lyricism, but it dwindled as the success of the album furthered its spread. Other tracks such as “Come as You Are” and “Polly” were subject to similar critical acclaim.
Kurt Cobain, the band’s front man, also found himself in the public eye. His reaction to this was a negative and permanent one that would haunt him for the rest of his life. In the first stanza of "Nevermind’s" eighth track, “Stay Away,” Cobain sings, “I don’t know why — I’d rather be dead than cool.” That was in 1991. The following year, the album would win an MTV Video Music Award for “In Bloom.” Nirvana made millions of dollars and inspired and validated many other bands who followed it. Michael “Flea” Balzary told SRF Virus that Nirvana had inspired an evolution in his own band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, noting Cobain’s ability to “focus on the essence of music.” Years after its release, "Nevermind" continued to open many doors.
Other bands who have claimed to have been inspired by Nirvana include Weezer, Blink 182, Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots and Imagine Dragons. By rousing this much excitement, it is hard to argue against the album’s breadth. There are sounds similar to those of "Nevermind" weaved into many realms of music today, and its cover art featuring a swimming baby has become iconic. Nirvana went on to release two more studio albums, "In Utero" and "MTV Unplugged," but neither could hope to recapture the sheer scope of their predecessor. "Nevermind" had become their magnum opus and couldn’t be topped. After Cobain’s untimely death in 1994, the role of "Nevermind" in pop culture was solidified further, paralleling Cobain's celebrity.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.