Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Surges: A Billion Spotify Streams, Malia J. Cover Featured in Marvel’s ‘Black Widow’


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Rock Cellar Magazine
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Approaching 30 years since its debut on the radio on Aug. 27, 1991, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” just continues to be an unstoppable mammoth of a song by Nirvana, one of the most unmistakable and instantly recognizable anthems ever recorded.

Earlier this week, the track hit a major milestone reaffirming its place in history by crossing the one billion stream mark on Spotify, with Loudwire noting that in doing so, “Teen Spirit” became the second song from the 1990s and the first of the so-called “grunge” scene of the Seattle area to do so. (If you’re curious which other ’90s hit already crossed that threshold, it’s “Wonderwall” by Oasis).

Spotify put together a Billions Club playlist for the songs that have hit the milestone, though “Teen Spirit” has yet to be added to the mix.

The iconic music video for “Teen Spirit,” filmed in Southern California as the first music video from director Samuel Bayer, depicted Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl performing at a dimly-lit pep rally to an audience of disaffected youth (very on-brand for the “grunge” movement overall, not to mention Cobain’s lyrical content that made up most of Nirvana’s catalog), hit its billionth YouTube stream back in December of 2019. As of this article, it’s approaching 1,300,000,000 views and climbing.

The imagery of this video captured Nirvana in its element. The lens filter made everything look like it was underwater and buried beneath piles of dirt, angsty teens filling what was made up to be a school gymnasium while Cobain, Grohl and Novovselic thrashed about.

Nearly three decades later, the video remains one of the most unforgettable ever — and even inspired “Weird Al” Yankovic to mimic the song with his “Smells Like Nirvana” parody, which has gone on to become one of his signature tunes, as well.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is due to get another streaming boost shortly, too. The new Marvel film Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson and hitting theaters on July 9 ahead of a Disney+ streaming release, will feature a dark, brooding orchestral cover of the song by singer/songwriter Malia J.

Per the NME, Malia J. was contacted by Marvel in 2015, hoping to use her 2015 cover of the track, and now her version will be featured in the opening credit sequence:

One of Nirvana’s other Nevermind tracks, the haunting closer “Something In The Way,” meanwhile, was featured in the teaser trailer for The Batman, the upcoming D.C. film starring Robert Pattinson as a gritty, dark version of the superhero:

All this to say: Nirvana and its visceral, powerful music is only growing in stature as the years roll by.


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