Nevermind

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Nevermind Music Poster Image
Grunge breakthrough delivers massive guitars and angst.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

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 & Representations

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
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 &... Continue reading
Adult Written byNirvana December 28, 2014

Nirvana: Nevermind Review

I think this album is amazing, although a few lyrics concerning drugs, that's not a very strong reason why not to let your children listen to the album. DO... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 8, 2014

Best album by Nirvana

They have been my favorite band since I was nine.
Kid, 10 years old February 4, 2012

Kurt Cobain=A really good singer

He's so good and cool lyrics

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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?

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