On September 10, 1991, the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was released and in just four chords redefined the world of music and became the anthem of an entire generation, which would later be called Generation X.
The song was written by Kurt Cobain in one moment of anger, after his girlfriend Tobi Vail, from the band "Bikini Kill" dumped him. The title of the song came from graffiti spray-painted by Kathleen Hanna - singer of the band "Bikini Kill", on the wall of Cobain's apartment. She intended to point out the fact that Kurt was "marked now" with the fragrance of his girlfriend's Tobi Vail favorite deodorant.
The four chords that Kurt chose to wrap the lyrics of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" were not innovative, on the contrary, they were chewy chords used in countless rock songs. Cobain noted that he was trying to write a song that would sound like "The Pixies". Even in the rhythm and way of playing this immortal riff, Cobain tried to sound like "More Than A Feeling" by "Boston," which according to his admission was simply clichéd. The song did not even have a bridge. But the combination of simplicity, with the roughness, and the catchy melody created the "big bang" that changed the face of music forever.
To accompany the song, the band filmed a clip whose idea is based on punk rock kids wreaking havoc in high school, a symbol of everything Cobain has despised since his high school days in Aberdeen. Constant broadcasts of the clip on MTV and repeated playbacks on various radio stations will launch "Nirvana," screaming and kicking, straight to the top of the Billboard 200 and into the heart of the mainstream.
But it did not end there, this song would put an entire city on the world map, as from that day Seattle became synonymous with the Grunge revolution that took place there. Although this song made the band immortal overnight, most of all it was the trigger for a much bigger revolution than a musical one, a cultural revolution of the X generation.
Needless to say, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was ranked No. 9 on "Rolling Stone" magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list, it was on the list of the 500 Greatest Songs That Shaped Rock by "Roll Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame" and was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2017.
In 2000, the song entered the Guinness Book of Records as the most played song on MTV Europe.