29. "Polly"/"(New Wave) Polly"
One of Nirvana's first forays into the more sinister side of social commentary, "Polly" was based on a real-life case in which serial rapist Gerald Friend tortured and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl, who then outsmarted and escaped him by convincing him that she enjoyed it. Written from the eerie perspective of the disturbed perpetrator, both versions convey the song's ominous nature – whether soft and sludgy on Nevermind or, in "(New Wave) Polly," frenetic and unforgiving. Though "Polly" is disturbing, it reflects Cobain's dual fascination with the macabre and extremely sensitive nature, as well as his interest in feminism under the tutelage of his ex-girlfriend, Bikini Kill's Tobi Vail. Though it's certainly not a protest song, it deftly delves into the mind of a sicko, like a succinct Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and is an example of the thoughtful depths Cobain was willing to plumb. JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD