The video for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” recently reached an important milestone: it surpassed one billion views on YouTube.
The song is only the second one recorded in the 1990s that has passed one billion views on the platform. The other was the video for “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses, which currently has more than 1.3 billion views.
“Zombie” by the Cranberries will likely be the next ’90s song to reach one billion views on YouTube. It is currently about 20 million views from the mark.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the first single from the band’s Nevermind album, which helped launch the era of grunge by forging the sounds of heavy metal with punk rock.
The song was a success with both fans and critics.
It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was unheard of at the time for an alternative rock band, and Rolling Stone named it the second best song of 1991. The video for it further won two MTV Music Video awards and was heavily played on the station.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the band’s frontman Kurt Cobain said of the song:
“I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily that I should have been in that band—or at least a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.”
Interestingly, the name of the song came from Riot grrrl’s Kathleen Hanna, who wrote “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on his wall, in reference to a female deodorant popular at the time.
Here’s the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”: