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No Apologies: All 102 Nirvana Songs Ranked

RS tackles the complete catalog of the band that defined the Nineties and made the world a lot noisier

nirvana kurt cobain dave grohl krist novoselic

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We've dug deep into the catalog of the chaos-embracing sludge-pop titans who changed the world and tackled a massive task: ranking all 102 album cuts, B-sides, bonus tracks, officially released covers, bootlegger-traded originals, home demos, Peel Sessions, and 4-track experiments we could find, from Nirvana's formation in 1987 to their McCartney-assisted reunion in 2013. It's no secret that the 38 songs on Nirvana's three classic albums blurred the lines between punk's most subterranean muck and pop's highest reaches. But they also left behind a wealth of other material from the shaggy to sublime, from combustible to calm, from coulda-been hits to unfinished sketches. Here it is, from Aero to Zeppelin, and everything in between. (Listen to the full playlist on YouTube here.)

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“Breed”

In the grunge era, this is what passed for game: noncommittal gestures towards playing house as a prelude to just straight-up doing it. There's so much late-night peacocking on "Breed" – the pelvic-thrust of a guitar intro, its mimicking by the bass, the aggressive tom rolls – you can practically smell the cigarette smoke in the bar where the slightly disheveled, greasy-haired couple is meeting before they go home together. It's one of the most alive songs on Nevermind, purely for its deep lust – the band giving into their most animalistic impulses, channeled on distortion in free fall. JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD

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“Sliver”

Cobain called it "the most ridiculous pop song that I had ever written… I wanted to write more songs like that." (He also noted that he'd titled it "Sliver" just because he knew people would misspell it as "Silver.") Childhood was the theme that Nirvana's songs and graphics circled around most, and this was the song in which they tackled it head-on: lyrics that evokes the little indignities of youthful powerlessness (featuring possibly Kurt's best line ever, "I fell asleep and watched TV"), and a monomaniacal tantrum of a chorus. Written and recorded very quickly, it features Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters, who was in Nirvana for exactly one show. DOUGLAS WOLK

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