Nevermind

 
(i)

 

Grunge breakthrough delivers massive guitars and angst.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Nirvana's songs are cynical, massive guitar anthems for disenfranchised teens. The message in their lyrics is pretty bleak. Take the very first words on the album from "Smells Like Teen Spirit": "Load up on guns, bring your friends / It's fun to lose and to pretend." However, like other music from dark places, Nirvana also said to young outsiders: You are not alone. It's also true enough that when Nirvana's second album became a smash hit, the group was hailed as the new saviors of guitar-based rock at a time when a lot of music lovers felt that dance music and boy bands had worn out their welcome.

Positive role models

Nirvana's music can be appreciated on many levels, and the members maintained authentic outsider status in the music industry, which in itself can be inspiring to some kids. However, there's no listening to any of their records without remembering frontman Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994.

Violence

Nirvana's songs are written rather cryptically -- some would say poetically -- but there are violent images in several songs. On Nevermind, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "In Bloom" mention guns (though in the latter song, the "gun" may represent something else). "Lithium" contains the words "I killed you." 

Sex

The "gun" in "In Bloom" may be a sexual allusion. "Lithium" contains the words "I'm so horny," and "Drain You" mentions a "passionate kiss."

Language

Only two swear words: "f---ing" (not in reference to sex) and "s--t." And one song is called "Territorial Pissings."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There is a song called "Lithium," which could be interpreted as being from the point of view of a drugged person. Other than that, the presence of drugs may have influenced the creation of these songs, but there's little mention of substance use in the songs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Nevermind, Nirvana's second album, was a huge breakthrough record for the band and a Number One-seller. Lovers of this music relish its raw power and attitude. Nirvana's frontman, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide in 1994, and fans all over the world mourned the loss of one of rock's great performers and poets. Songs include some violent allusions, minor sexual references, and mentions of drugs. Profanity is rare but the f-bomb does appear once.

What's the story?

Nirvana's second album, NEVERMIND, rose to Number One on the Billboard charts when it hit in 1991. It's full of explosive vocal dynamics, huge distorted guitar noise, and cryptic lyrics that underscore the group's social cynicism. The album marked the arrival of the \"grunge\" genre, which is similar to punk, though perhaps more riddled with angst than anger. Kurt Cobain, the band's famous frontman and lyricist, committed suicide a few years after making this record, but the other band members have carried on productive music careers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Once in a great while, a musical work comes along that seems completely new and inspiring to masses of teenagers. Nevermind was that album in '91. The huge, fuzz box-distorted guitar sounds and thrash vocals lift up Kurt Cobain's anguished lyrics to make a powerful sonic statement. This was, and is, an important record to grunge lovers and anybody else who appreciates walls of electric guitars.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Nirvana's lyrics, which include loads of imagery and opposing ideas within the same song. Why, for example, does Cobain sing the first verse of "Get Together" in "Territorial Pissings"? What do you feel he was expressing?

  • It's hard not to think of Kurt Cobain's suicide when thinking about this band, making it as good an opening as any to talk with teens about suicide, available resources and ways to manage feelings.

  • Why do you think Nevermind was such a massive hit when it was released in 1991? What was this band saying or doing that's unique?

Music details

Artist:Nirvana
Release date:September 24, 1991
Type:Album
Label:Geffen Records
Genre:Alternative Rock
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of Nevermind was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Rock superstars cut another clean, excellent CD.
  • Rock infused with political and social messages.
  • Soundgarden meets Rage Against the Machine.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byKurtCobain(mainia) June 4, 2012
 

Best Role Model ROCKS!!

Its intended to be as simple as possible! Me & my baby 4 year old cousin listen to this ever single day Kurt wasn't bad he was against racist & homophobes!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old February 4, 2012
 

Kurt Cobain=A really good singer

He's so good and cool lyrics
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old February 8, 2014
 

Best album by Nirvana

They have been my favorite band since I was nine.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass