My 25 favorite songs by Nirvana


While reviewing and cataloging all music, I was curious about certain groups and artists and how I feel about their music today. I decided to rank the songs of some of the greats and after kicking things off with the Beatles and Zeppelin, I settled on Nirvana, one of the greatest bands of all time.

A lot of incredible music released over the course of just a handful of years – 1991 through 1994, as far as my favorites go. Four years? Makes you wonder how far they could have gone had Kurt Cobain not tragically died (official word is suicide…but that’s a discussion for another blog. Needless to say I don’t completely accept the official word).

From my own yearly classifications, 10 of Nirvana’s songs ranked as “awesome” (that’s more than I had for the Beatles, at eight) with an additional 14 garnering the “great” moniker. That’s 24 songs at “great” or “awesome” which tops Led Zeppelin’s 22. In all, Nirvana ended up with 27 songs on my year-by-year lists, and that’s an amazing accomplishment considering they only recorded … well, it’s hard to say just how many songs they recorded. According to Rolling Stone, they recorded 102 songs. But for my rankings I don’t include songs that already made the list but then get re-released as a live or unplugged song. Otherwise I could just add the entire MTV Live in New York album.

In putting this together, I decided to do away with the classifications and give my own hard ranking. With the understanding that, depending on mood, any of these songs can slide up or down 10 spots pretty easily. In fact, Lounge Act was ranked 41st by Rolling Stone…and 5th by me. So when you’re talking about two dozen truly great songs, the difference in enjoyment between listening to No. 1 and No. 20 is almost negligible. All Apologies (pun intended) to the fans of Smells Like Teen Spirit. It’s a great song and it turned the music industry on it’s ear. To me it is the single most important song in modern music and it shaped alternative rock for the next 25 years – a genre which is my favorite. But when it plays, do I get as excited as In Bloom? No, not anymore. So while SLTS is the most important Nirvana song, it is not even in the Top 10 among my favorites.

And of course, I shouldn’t have to explain that the 26th song ranked here is not their worst song – remember they have 102 songs recorded, so the 25th song actually tops 77 others.

The two songs that made my year-by-year list but did not crack the Top 26 are: Aneurysm (1992) and Sappy (1993)

26. Stay Away (1991)


25. Territorial Pissings (1991)


24. Oh, Me (1994)


23. Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam (1994)


22. You Know You’re Right (2002)


21. Heart-Shaped Box (1993)


20. Rape Me (1993)


19. Something In The Way (1991)


18. On A Plain (1991)


17. Breed (1991)


16. Sliver (1992)


15. Drain You (1991)


14. About a Girl (1989)


13. Polly (1991)


12. Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)


11. Come As You Are (1991)


10. Plateau (1994)


9. Dumb (1993)


8. Lake of Fire (1994)


7. Where Did You Sleep Last Night (1994)


6. The Man Who Sold the World (1994)


5. Lounge Act (1991)

4. Lithium (1991)


3. Pennyroyal Tea (1993)


2. All Apologies (1993)


1. In Bloom (1991)


Enjoy these songs on my YouTube playlist here

1In Bloom Nirvana1991
2All Apologies Nirvana1993
3Pennyroyal Tea Nirvana1993
4Lithium Nirvana1991
5Lounge Act Nirvana1991
6The Man Who Sold the WorldNirvana1994
7Where Did You Sleep Last NightNirvana1994
8Lake of FireNirvana1994
9Dumb Nirvana1993
11Come As You Are Nirvana1991
12Smells Like Teen Spirit Nirvana1991
13Polly Nirvana1991
14About A Girl Nirvana1989
15Drain You Nirvana1991
16Sliver Nirvana1992
17Breed Nirvana1991
18On A Plain Nirvana1991
19Something In The Way Nirvana1991
20Rape Me Nirvana1993
21Heart-Shaped BoxNirvana1993
22You Know You’re RightNirvana2002
23Jesus Don’t Want Me for a SunbeamNirvana1994
24Oh, MeNirvana1994
25Territorial Pissings Nirvana1991
26Stay Away Nirvana1991
27Aneurysm Nirvana1992

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