Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Video Hits One Billion YouTube Views

It's the second video from the 90s to reach the milestone

December 26, 2019

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” resonated with a generation of young people when it was first released in 1991, and the song’s rebellious theme is still pulling people in decades later.

The opening track and lead single from the band’s culture-shifting album Nevermind just became the second music video from the 90s to eclipse one billion views on YouTube.

The instantly recognizable clip features a collection of bored high school students in a gym going through the motions of youth, until the band and cheerleaders wearing anarchy symbols rile them up.

The lyrics to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” are famously hard to follow at times, but even though those close to him insist Kurt Cobain knew exactly what he was saying, the late frontman himself refused to take any credit.

"I was just using pieces of poetry and just garbage — you know, just stuff that just would spew out of me at the time," he told the Canadian TV channel MuchMusic in 1993. "A lot of times when I write lyrics, it's just at the last second because I'm really lazy. And then I find myself having to come up with explanations for it."

The only other music video from the 90s to own more than one billion YouTube views is Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain.” Axl, Slash and company also scored one billion views for 1988’s “Sweet Child O’ Mine. The oldest video with a billion views is “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

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