Kurt Cobain’s Broken Dream About ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ By Nirvana

Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube were a thing, MTV was all the rage, especially for teens. For bands making music videos and the songs making it on MTV was a big deal. Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was one of the tracks that was on repeat.

Even though ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was a hit, Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl had other visions for the music video that didn’t come to fruition. Nirvana shared with New York Magazine how the history making MTV music video came to be and what was their actual intention. Grohl explained:

“The idea was, the kids take over and burn down the gymnasium, just as Matt Dillon did in ‘Over the Edge,’ with the rec center. Kurt [Cobain] was a huge fan of that movie. We walked into that whole thing really cautiously, because we didn’t want to misrepresent the band.”

Dave shared that their vision for the cheerleaders in the video were not attractive women but the total opposite. He added:

“There were certain things we found to be really funny about videos—tits and ass and pyrotechnics, shit like that—and when we showed up at the shoot, we were like, ‘Wait a minute, those cheerleaders look like strippers.’ A lot of people we worked with didn’t understand the underground scene or punk rock.”

They did a couple of takes and by the end, Grohl realized that the music video had become a Nirvana live performance. The rocker said:

“We did a couple of takes, and the audience just started destroying the stage. The director’s on a bullhorn screaming, ‘Stop! Cut!’ And that’s when it started to make sense to me: This is like a Nirvana concert.”

Besides Kurt not vibing with the outcome of the music video, the late singer also wasn’t happy that the song had that much commercial success. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed his thoughts about ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ where he said:

“Everyone has focused on that song so much. The reason it gets a big reaction is people have seen it on MTV a million times. It’s been pounded into their brains. But I think there are so many other songs I’ve written that are as good, if not better, than that song, like ‘Drain You.’ That’s as good as ‘Teen Spirit.’ I love the lyrics, and I never get tired of playing it. Maybe if it were as big as ‘Teen Spirit,’ I wouldn’t like it as much.”

You can read Nirvana’s 2011 interview with New York Magazine here and watch the music video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ below.