Cheap Top 5: Nirvana Songs

In today's paper I reviewed "Dark Was the Night," the new "intellectual indie" collection from the folks at Red Hot. The AIDS charity has been releasing compilations for the last two decades, and if you went to high school in the '90s -- or even if you didn't -- "No Alternative" is probably the one that's most familiar to you. That was Red Hot's 1993 foray into the alt-rock boom, and it was certainly a staple in the collection of everyone who ever bought 8 CDs for a penny through BMG, or whatever it was. As fun as Pavement's R.E.M.-namechecking "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" is ("'Time After Time' is my least favorite song!") the best song on the album is, obviously, Nirvana's "Verse Chorus Verse," which for some reason was relegated to hidden track status and has since been retitled "Sappy." I queued it up recently and it still kills. And it got me thinking -- is it one of the five best Nirvana songs?

Yes, it is. Barely, but it made the cut. The list, in alphabetical order, because who doesn't love a list?

"Drain You" - Definitely the best pop song Cobain wrote. The bridge is a little cheap, but the build up back into the verse makes it worth it.

"In Bloom" - The "Nevermind" single that holds up sturdiest a decade and a half later. Nature really is a whore, too.

"Lithium" - The "yeah yeah yeah" in the chorus is probably Cobain's most effective lyric ever.

"Serve the Servants" - During a quick poll of some friends (OK, people I talk to on g-chat), this was the only song that showed up on every list. And with good reason. The guitar is just so stinging (thanks, Albini), the drums sound like actual drums (thanks again) and it's the most complete song on "In Utero."

"Verse Chorus Verse/Sappy" - Tongue in cheek as it may be, the formula works. Plus, killer solo.

Just missing the cut: "Pennyroyal Tea" and "On a Plain"

You know you have your own list. Let's see it.

By David Malitz |  February 17, 2009; 5:53 PM ET Lists , Old Favorite Thing , Rankings
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A good list, but I'd put "All Apologies" over "Serve the Servants." It has such a unique sound ... such a clever, catchy riff for the verses, and great vocals for the chorus, and I think it holds up great today.

Posted by: sanfi74 | February 17, 2009 7:17 PM

Top 5 Nirvana Songs:

1. Love Buzz (a cover, but unrecognizable from the original, so I consider it a Nirvana song)
2. Come As You Are (might be a cover - just ask Killing Joke)
3. Been a Son
4. Aneurysm
5. Very Ape

Honorable mentions to School, Dive, and Son of a Gun (OK, another cover).

Top 5 "No Alternative" Songs:

1. Superdeformed - Matthew Sweet
2. Glynis - Smashing Pumpkins
3. Can't Fight It - Bob Mould
4. Joed Out - Barbara Manning
5. Effigy - Uncle Tupelo (one of the best CCR covers this side of Tina Turner)

Posted by: SSMD1 | February 18, 2009 9:11 AM

My Top 5 Nirvana is always changing, except for one song: "You Know You're Right." That is one haunting song that just DESTROYS my stereo and surrounding scenery. I love that song!

Posted by: bascomb | February 18, 2009 10:10 AM

My Top 5:

Scentless Apprentice - Sets up the warped structure of In Utero

All Apologies (Unplugged) - Nearly every song on MTVUINY is great, but considering the album's posthumous release, this version takes on a life of its own

Lithium - Nirvana's best song, no question

Sliver - Forget VCV, the best b-side

Breed - I know that Breed isn't one of the "best" songs but it's still one of my personal favorites.

Posted by: Deceiver | February 18, 2009 4:04 PM

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