Jacques Talk: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ - 30 Years Later

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 11:51 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - September 10, 2021, marks the 30-year anniversary of one of the biggest game-changers in the history of popular music.

A somewhat unheard of Grunge band called Nirvana unleashed the single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” - a bombastic, relentless, driving anthem that thundered across America like a giant earthquake. Lead vocalist Kurt Cobain became a rock superstar overnight, while the album, Nevermind, would sell over 10 million copies.

In my book, it’s certainly a moment worth reflecting on. The Voice of the LSU Tigers Chris Blair, Gin Blossoms drummer Scott Hessel, LSU and NFL great Kyle Williams, Matt Moscona of 104.5 ESPN Radio, Derek Stingley Sr., and Dunham head football coach Neil Weiner all share their thoughts on the iconic song and band. I also enjoyed a lengthy, fun, and very educational chat with nationally acclaimed author Michael Azerrad, who wrote the Nirvana biography, “Come As You Are,” which has been named one of the greatest books in rock history.

I remember being a bone skinny, equally uncool sophomore in high school arriving at a party in Lafayette, Louisiana. The temperatures were dropping during the fall, as I remember a large group of teenagers gathered around a bonfire. I then heard this raw, screaming, thunderous anthem blasting from the porch speakers. Then, I heard it again. And again. In the era of mixtapes, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” seemed to be roaring every third tune.

Within half an hour, I could sense this thing was a juggernaut. I certainly thought it lacked the polish or gang chorus of the smash hard rock hits of the late 80s from bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and yes, Van Halen. The tone was hardly happy - it was angry and dark. Suddenly, something called Grunge had made it totally uncool to smile and be upbeat in the hard rock world. I honestly wasn’t all that crazy about this new, totally unstoppable movement. But at that time, you just ate what the monstrous record companies fed you. I certainly jammed the Nevermind album countless times and when I’m covering a sporting event at a massive stadium and “Teen Spirit” takes flight, I can certainly marvel at the masterpiece it still is three decades later.

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