The Top 10 Nirvana Songs That Aren’t “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Aside from maybe Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and the Beatles themselves, there are few bands that are universally beloved more than Nirvana.  Credited with catapulting grunge rock into the mainstream spotlight, the classic trio of Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl helped  bring unique sound, image, and aggression to a rock world desperately in need of a kick in the pants.  Sadly, the band was short-lived, as Cobain tragically took his own life not long after the release of band’s third album, “In Utero.”

There’s no question that Nirvana had a lot of memorable and iconic songs.  In most cases, the band’s mega-hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” easily tops any and all top-whatever lists due to its massive pop culture impact and chart-smashing success.  But that’s no fun.  So, in honor of Mr. Cobain’s birthday, here are what I believe to be Nirvana’s ten best songs that aren’t “Teen Spirit:”

1.     “All Apologies”– “All Apologies” was released in a manner that made its lyrics and melody all the more haunting:  not only was it the concluding track to Nirvana’s final album prior to Cobain’s suicide, it was also the band’s last official radio single.  Nevertheless, if looked at as the band’s swan song, “All Apologies” is a perfect fit- blending beautiful verse melody with an angsty chorus and ending on a final bar that epitomizes the band’s chaotic, hazy lifespan.

2.     Pennyroyal Tea”– When comparing it to major Nirvana singles such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Heart-Shaped Box,” it’s easy to over-look or under-appreciate “Pennyroyal Tea.” The song was originally planned as “In Utero’s” third single, but was canceled after Cobain’s suicide.  According to statements made by Cobain, the song is about someone who “is beyond depressed” and “is on their death bed.”  Furthermore, the song’s title is a reference to an herbal remedy that Cobain used for his own personal health issues, all to no avail.  The song initially seems like a typical, satisfying loud/quiet Nirvana track, but its overall themes of depression, hopelessness, and acceptance of death pack quite an emotional punch when considering the band’s fate.

3.     “Heart-Shaped Box”– When modern grunge-inspired bands aspire to write a perfect song, “Heart-Shaped Box” almost definitely comes to mind as a reference point.  A diminishing Cobain paints a perfect portrait of moody tone and haunting imagery.  The song was also accompanied by the best music video of Nirvana’s career.

4.     “In Bloom”One of Nirvana’s slickest songs, “In Bloom” was released as an ode to fans who didn’t actually understand the band’s lyrics or overall meaning.  The song’s catchy chorus and crunchy guitar parts have allowed it to remain a classic staple of rock radio.  However, with fake Nirvana fans on the rise now more than ever, the song’s meaning has barely aged and remains relevant and humorous.

5.     “Paper Cuts”– While Alice in Chains and Soundgarden had almost complete control of the metal/grunge market, Nirvana’s “Paper Cuts” proved that the band could be just as affective by means of sheer intensity.  The song is one of Nirvana’s heaviest and makes use of some truly brutal feedback.

6.      “Lithium”- “Lithium” was given the near-impossible task of following up the massively successful “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come as you Are.”  However, it held its own and quickly went down as one of Nirvana’s most well-known songs.  Never before had a band constructed such a memorable chorus based on a single word (“yeah.”)

7.     “Something in the Way”It’s almost a shame that “Something in the Way” was included as a hidden track on “Nevermind;” the song is one of Nirvana’s most beautiful, with an uncharacteristically calm mood and an ear-catching string backdrop.  The song should have been given a proper spot on the band’s sophomore marvel, but perhaps its melodic nature would have disrupted the album’s flow.

8.     “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”As if its massive title doesn’t already command enough attention, “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” loudly sputters up and down and rings on even past its conclusion.  The song finds Nirvana channeling their aggression in a stand-out manner.

9.     “Come as you Are”Nearly every person educated in proper rock music history can quickly recognize “Come as you Are’s” monotone main riff.  The song’s dreary melody practically embodies the ripples of the water featured on “Nevermind’s” cover.  It is a grunge classic.

10.     “Negative Creep”– “Negative Creep” is a monster of a track.  The song really helps establish “Bleach’s” dark undertones by means of static distortion.  Cobain’s vocals grow increasingly frantic and harsh as the song builds momentum.

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The Ten Best Songs from Green Day’s “Uno, Dos, and Tre” Trilogy.

Green Day is a band that has been admired since the early 1990’s.  Known for their snotty, sarcastic lyrics, hard hitting riffs, and machine gun drum fills, the post-punk trio have appealed to a large variety of listeners during their career.  However, a common complaint among fans is that the band has been unable to live up to its magnum opus, “Dookie,” since its release in 1994.

The debate over vintage and modern Green Day still rages on, but however you look at it, the band has never come close to overshadowing their impressive past until now;  “Uno, Dos, and Tre” the band’s recent trilogy of new albums, provide some of their best work in quite a while.

Here are what I believe to be the ten best tracks from the trilogy:

1. “Let Yourself Go”– Fast-paced, edgy, and at times, pretty humorous, “Let Yourself Go” is one of Green Day’s best singles in a long time.  The song deserves to be considered alongside the classics from “Dookie” and “Insomniac.”

2.  “X-Kid”“X-Kid” is a perfect radio single and one of the best moments of the trilogy.  The song includes the catchiest hooks of the entire “Tre” album.

3.  “Fuck Time”– Green Day play with pleasing, classic rock-style energy throughout “Fuck Time,” a song that swings on like a flaming pendulum.  “See You Tonight” may be “Dos’s” opening track, but “Fuck Time” is the real attention-grabber.

4.  “Nuclear Family”The initial indicator that vintage Green Day had made a partial comeback, Nuclear Family kicks the trilogy off in the best way possible:  with a memorable lead guitar riff and a furious drum performance from Tre Cool.

5.  “Oh Love”One of the most recognizable of Green Day’s newer songs, “Oh Love” swings the door shut on “Uno” with its choppy scratches and captivating guitar solo.

6“Kill the DJ”- “Kill the DJ” may be a little unconventional for a post-punk band like Green Day, but they nail it anyway, jamming in a style akin to the Strokes or Arctic Monkeys.

7“The Forgotten”– Yes, it is easy to question “The Forgotten’s” substance due to its inclusion in the “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” soundtrack, but, this notion aside, the song is a well-written, emotionally-charged ballad that finds Green Day channeling their inner Elton John.

8.  Carpe Diem– “Carpe Diem’s” opening chords sound all too familiar in Green Day’s catalog, but the song still manages to ring with an original tone.  The song continues to stoke the fire started by its predecessor tracks, “Nuclear Family” and “Stay the Night.”

9.  “Troublemaker”– Green Day chip away at “Troublemaker” in a controlled groove.  The song’s purposely ridiculous lyrics and well-placed “hey!” hooks make it a staple of “Uno.”

10.  “Stray Heart”– Despite opening with the exact same bass line as Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” “Stray Heart” quickly becomes its own song.  A distressed Billie Joe Armstrong sings of love and longing during the song’s chorus.

10 Rock Artists Who Could Potentially Play a Superbowl Halftime Show

A major part of every Superbowl is its corresponding halftime performance;  it is during this time that millions of viewers are kept entertained by a high-profile musical artist.  Over the years, fans have been treated to a multitude of impressive performances ranging from The Who to ‘N Sync.

Specifically, the rock genre has been well-represented during recent Superbowls.  Generally, the NFL’s selections have been very good, but here are ten more rock acts that should at least be considered for a future halftime slot:

Foo Fighters– The Foos are clearly an ideal choice for any live performance, let alone the Superbowl.  Picture Dave Grohl and the boys belting out “My Hero” and “The Pretender” to legions of raving football fans; the image seems too perfect.

Van Halen– Despite their inevitable aging, Van Halen could still bring a lot of energy to the Superbowl with their library of timeless, hard-rocking hits.  Rumors of a Van Halen halftime show have been rising and falling for several years, and it’s easy to see why.

Red Hot Chili Peppers– The Chili Peppers have been at it for several decades now, but their live performances have only gotten better.  With a versatile catalog of hits, iconic stage presence, and a very large fan-base, the band would be a great fit for a major event like the Superbowl.

UPDATE: The Red Hot Chili Peppers are set to join Bruno Mars during the Superbowl XLVIII Halftime Show on February 2, 2014.

Eric Clapton– The legendary “slowhand” rocker may not be the most eccentric live performer, but he would bring a good show to the Superbowl in the same vein as Tom Petty or Paul McCartney.  Viewers could cool-down from the game’s first quarter action by observing a master craftsman at work on the fret board.

Elton John– Considering the classic rock trend of recent Superbowl halftime shows, it’s not unlikely that Elton John may eventually be considered to follow suit.  John could handpick just about any of his singles and still be guaranteed to have the entire stadium singing along.

Bon Jovi– Bon Jovi are one of those rare bands that appeal to a large mix of classic rock and modern rock fans.  In addition, next year’s superbowl is, in fact, set to be played at the New Meadowlands.   This almost seems unavoidable.

Pearl Jam– Pearl Jam would provide one of the, for lack of a better adjective, coolest halftime performances of all time.  “Alive,” “Even Flow” and “Life Wasted” would rock a football stadium to its feet, all while remaining accessible and bearable for a family audience.

Coldplay– Yes, the initial thought is sleep-inducing, but it would be ridiculous to not consider Coldplay in the running for an eventual halftime slot.  The British quartet are one of the most popular modern rock bands of the past decade and typically play high-profile television events anyway.

UPDATE: Coldplay served as the headlining act for the Superbowl 50 halftime show – performing alongside Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

Green Day– Whether you like or hate them, Green Day have developed themselves into an arena rock band with an impressive live show.  Up-tempo songs like “Basketcase” and “Know Your Enemy” would make a Green Day halftime show a lot of fun (assuming Billie Joe Armstrong would be able to handle the strict time constraints on the set).

Led Zeppelin– Okay, I decided to include a fantastical scenario.  Odds are, Zeppelin will never play the Superbowl, but nothing is impossible.  The band’s surviving members have reunited several times, even as recently as 2007.  Eventually, it will happen again.  As for the Superbowl, again, nothing is impossible.  One thing is for sure:  Roger Goodell would be paying a lot of money in exchange for what would most likely be the greatest music-related televised moment of the year.