Now available on HDTracks: Nirvana Nevermind
Nevermind was never meant to change the world, but you can never predict when the zeitgeist will hit, and Nirvana's 1991 Nevermind turned out to be the place where alternative rock crashed into the mainstream.
No matter how much anguish there is on Nevermind is bracing because Kurt Cobain exorcises his demons through evocative wordplay and mangled screams paired with the band's a tremendous, unbridled power that transcends the pain, turning into pure catharsis. And that's as key to the record's success as Cobain's songwriting, since Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl help turn this into music that is gripping, powerful, and even fun (and, really, there's no other way to characterize "Territorial Pissings" or the surging "Breed").
Nevermind immediately became a smash hit, quickly selling out its initial shipment of 50,000 copies and creating a shortage across America. What helped the record become a success was "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a blistering four-chord rocker that was accompanied by a video that shot into heavy MTV rotation. By the beginning of 1992, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" had climbed into the American Top Ten and Nevermind bumped Michael Jackson's much-touted comeback album Dangerous off the top of the album charts; it reached the British Top Ten shortly afterward. By February, the album had been certified triple platinum.