Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Named Greatest Song of All Time By NME

Journalists name their favorites in new list, Top 5 tracks inside.

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Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was officially named the greatest song of all time by NME magazine.

The magazine's past and present journalists worked together to compile a massive Top 500 list soon to be made available online in full.

"Lauded as 'a shock to the system' by NME's reviewer at the time, when it was released as a single it reached Number Seven in the UK charts. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain quickly grew tired of the track," the article reads, pointing at Kurt's 1993 statement: "I can see it's a good record from a commercial point of view but it's too slick for my tastes."

Back in October 2013, NME dubbed the Smiths' "The Queen Is Dead" the greatest album of all time. Full list of greatest songs is already available in the magazine's digital edition, check out the Top 5 below and share your thoughts in the comments.

NME's Top 5 Greatest Songs of All Time

5. "Last Nite," The Strokes
4. "How Soon Is Now?," The Smiths
3. "I Feel Love," Donna Summer2. "Love Will Tear Us Apart," Joy Division1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana

213 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hmmmm, don't quite agree with this list at all...
    Same here. Love the song and Nirvana, but I still find this list pretty much terrible.
    Better than Bohemian Rhapsody??
    I've heard worse songs... but I find it hard to find anyone really likes Bohemian rhapsody
    Are you simple Smigzy?
    With a name like Smigzy he must be simple. I'll admit I dont care for B. Rhapsody, but I certainly do not have a hard time finding people who enjoy it. Very big song.
    Accidental Downvote. FFFFF
    I didn't agree with Pringles Ridges being discontinued, but f*ck I have to live with it.
    But really. The raters should've definitely changed that to being Tonight by Ozzy Osbourne , Nutshell by Alice in Chains, and Soul Stripper by Ac/dc for the top 3.
    I didn't agree with Pringles Ridges being discontinued, but f*ck I have to live with it.
    SniperWolf80mm · Feb 06, 2014 11:13 AM
    It almost killed glam metal (thank god)
    Way Cool JR.
    At least Glam metal was around a lot longer than Nirvana. (thank god)
    Way Cool JR.
    Just to clear things up. I'm certainly not happy that Kurt killed himself. I was truly and honestly upset about the news when it first came out. I'm sure he was a great guy, I just couldn't stand his bands music. It's certainly not the way I would like to see a band end it's career.
    hey buddy....not to be rude....but AIC and Soundgarden are back at the top, and not to mention, Pearl Jam never went anywhere, not to mention a slew of bands that could be called grunge. The only thing killed off was the word.
    Saw Pearl Jam less than a month ago, can confirm that they're as good live today as they have ever been. It's hard to believe they're as old as they are with how active they are on stage. (Especially Eddie. Fuck!)
    Glam metal rules!
    No. Motley Crue released a couple good albums in the 80's. Shout and Dr Feelgood. The rest of the glam metal genre in the 80's was spent copying, essentially, the Crue. Before you start bitching about Guns N Roses, they were glam for something like two shows, and none of that "Every Rose" type shit is on any of their albums. Before you say Bowie, Kiss, or pretty much anything else that came before Motley Crue, that's glam rock. Without it, there would not be glam metal. The only exception that comes to mind is Twisted Sister's Under The Blade, which has it's moments, and is generally quite good. But then they went radio friendly, and then they started to become not so good.
    It almost killed thrash metal too. (thank god its alive)
    yeah it really almost killed thrash metal. That whole killed metal statement is old. Metallica was around, Slayer was still doing it's thing. The thrash metal bands that vanished during this time period vanished of their own accord, and many of the best out their formed during this time period. Not to mention a little band named Pantera really started to gain noteriety while Nirvana was still around. But hey, lets continue the stupid statement that Nirvana killed metal, because it's the cool thing to do, when they did the exact opposite by keeping rock floating around, and buying metal time to form some new bands to reload.
    Death Metal also started to get popular around this time too, the second wave of Black Metal was kicking off around this time as well. Besides, Metal has always been on the fringes of society, it was and always will be it's own thing.
    Nirvana tried to kill the metal But they failed as they were smite to the ground
    Last I checked, Kurt Cobain liked Metallica, and only refused to tour with them because he didn't care for GnR and their values. If I remember he showed up at one of their shows. He hated bad music, not metal in general, and there was a lot of bad music out at the time.
    Because metal is the greatest thing that ever happened to music? And it almost killed it because of how good it was.
    Considering Grunge is a hybrid of 70's Heavy Metal and 80's Hardcore Punk. How could something that is essentially half-metal kill metal? Granted the "metalness" of each grunge band varies, some are unmistakably metal even if they chose not to use the term since it had a stigma in 91, others only have a distorted guitar in common with metal. Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Tad and The Melvins definitely fit most of the criteria of a metal band, unless you are a Br00t4lz elitist. Nirvana and Mudhoney are is more punk bands with a metal edge. Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots are more Hard Rock.
    With that kind of attitude, maybe it should have. Not really, but get over it, and remember, what it put the bullet it was glam metal.
    If you want to call that over produced garbage that was popular in the 80s "metal", sure. I'm glad they killed it.
    Way Cool JR.
    Glam/Hair Metal was fun, uplifting and energetic and produced some of the world best guitarists. And brought some cool new advancements to guitars, gear and techniques. So it was a really great period for music and metal IMO.
    If anything it bred a new gen of Metal in that many of us who thought it was crap, which it was, were even more hellbent on making/promoting real Metal.
    People still read NME?
    I don't even know what it is.
    A British magazine with a narrow scope of musicality. Even though I love most of those songs, the very concept of the list is ridiculously arbitrary.
    So then the British version of Rolling Stone?
    Pretty much, they sometimes cover some good stuff, but most of it is either them banging on about The Smiths or repping really shit Indie bands that wish they were The Smiths.
    As happy as I am about this, I'm surprised the Beatles or Led Zep or something isn't in the top 5
    It's because it's NME, which has always been more Indie/Alternative orientated.
    Meaning hipster
    Indie/Alternative =/= Hipster. NME aren't really much of a "hipster" thing, just mostly for tryhard Indie kids that really know nothing about the genre, but want to look cool and hip just because they have an Unknown Pleasures t shirt.
    Considering the source of this list it is a surprise that the top 5 aren't all Oasis songs.
    Typical NME. That's why they make lists in the first place. To cause shitstorms. We all know that it's impossible to decide objectively what's the best song of all time, since tastes in music are subjective as ****. Stop getting your knickers in a twist because of this, people. Also, their obsession with the Strokes is funny to say the least.
    The only dick NME sucks more than Nirvana's is Oasis'. So I'm surprised they're not on the list
    I'm a huge Nirvana fan but I do not agree with this. At first I wondered if it was some random case of them arbitrarily sticking this track at the top of a list of classic songs. But having seen the list it is clear that NME is delusional. Of course, it's all subjective anyway - the nature of such lists means and proves little. Their opinion is just given more stock because it is published by a recognisable organization. What does a list like this accomplish anyway? No matter what song they put at the top I would still fundamentally disagree with it because I value my own taste in music more than anyone else's, it's my musical experience and it is not to be dictated by standards set by something as worthless as NME.
    Maybe one of the most important songs, but most certainly not the best.
    Look, it has a fair musical composition with surprises, especially for the time period, it was a huge shock to the culture with a lasting impact that extends to even now, and it has stood the test of time. Now; do I agree? Probably not, but it is a reasonable choice.
    F A# G# C#. Really surprising
    No other song really used that progression. I can only think of "I'm Only Sleeping" by the Beatles that uses the same progression for a bar, only a half step down: Em Am G C. I'd honestly be curious to know some other songs that use it now.
    "Swallowed" by Bush uses the same chord structure, but starting on the 4th fret. G#, C#, C, E#
    It's also the chorus to U-mass by Pixies. And part of Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream.
    Slightly different chords in the Pixies song, but yeah, pretty much.
    It pretty much just is More Than a Feeling. Hell, they'd sometimes start the song off with that riff instead when they played like.
    Four chords used in a similar rhythm, yes, but they're still different chords.
    The point is not that it's complex composition, because everyone knows better. It's simplistic, but well put together. There is a difference between poor and simple idiots like you need to differentiate. Odds are your probably a better guitarist than Cobain, but are probably one of them ppl who will be held back because you think something needs to be complex to be composed well.
    Very true. For example, AC/DC have taken three chords and written tons of classic songs. That's more impressive to me than Malmsteen blazing across a fretboard.
    thank you n thumbs up. I probably shouldn't have been such a dick in my post, but people thinking a composition has to be complex to be put together well is asinine. I'm not a huge AC/DC fan but they are the perfect example. How bout Jerry Cantrell. The guy has some well composed insane music and solos, but most of his stuff is simplistic because he understans composition is more about what is tasteful to the ear, rather than difficulty. It makes sense AC/DC was one of his biggest influences.
    i gave u thumbs up cuz you posted well. People need to learn the difference been simple composition and poor composition.
    Thrice Capades
    Last Nite by The Strokes? Is is possible to rate a publication's credibility in the negatives?
    haha right? When i saw that song listed, I was like "what song is that again?" and it still took a few times to remember it haha
    Its a great song, but when you put John Lennon's Imagine at 476 out of 500, you've lost all credibility.
    I think for a song to be named "best song ever", everyone in the world needs to agree that it's their favourite song, and that is in many ways, impossible. Also, I can't stand Smells Like Teen Spirit, but that's just me.
    Agreed, but if you have to pick one, it should be timeless and not overexposed. I would have to nominate Lazy by Deep Purple or Peace Frog.
    By far my favorite song by the Doors. Far from the best song ever, but I do love that tune.
    Best =/= most popular. I'm fairly certain their criteria was concerning composition, cultural impact, sustainability, and some other things.
    It would make sense if they judged it like that, but there's two things wrong. Smells Like Teen Spirit is NOT a very well composed song, regardless of how good it is, or how much impact it has. Concerning the other four songs, I don't think that the even nearly have the cultural impact as many other songs, for instance, Smoke on the Water, or Purple Haze.
    First off, the composition was not that bad, just simple, which some people dont appreciate or like. 2nd I understand why you wouldn't like the composition, and was actually about to thumbs up until that last line. You realize Jimi Hendrix had more impact after his death, and if you want to compare massive mucsical change and culture shock, deep purple were not on that sort of level. All made great music that will always be relevant, but to say SLTS didnt have the cultural impact is pretty uneducated, which tells me either your biased because you dislike Nirvana, or your a kid who has no memory.
    I think they're confusing "greatest" with "most culturally impacting", and even then it's not number one, nor any of the others. I like the song, but this list seems pretty subjective. I've never even heard of the song by The Strokes, although I know some stuff by the band.
    2001 1984 1976 1980 1991 These songs span exactly 25 years. That's longer than I've been alive. And these are somehow the best "of all time?" Ridiculous.
    It isn't even the best Nirvana song. Kurt didn't even like the fact that it got popular.
    That's not even the best song on Nevermind.
    Best song on what? Don't give up! Finish your sentence. We want to know!
    Yep, Lithium is probably my favourite on the album. Something in the Way and Polly are better than that song as well.
    I am a huge Smiths fan but that is nowhere near their best song, just their most commercially successful. Terrible list though.
    Not even the best Nirvana song. Hell, it's not even the best Nirvana song that SOUNDS like Teen Spirit.
    Yeah, I'd say Rape Me is a better Smells Like Teen Spirit than Smells Like Teen Spirit is.
    I love Nirvana as much as the next person....but that is a load of bullshit. I'd say at the best it would only be in the Top 100 if that. Also, SLTS isn't even the best song off that album. Lithium, Breed, Lounge Act, Drain You, Territorial Pissings, On A Plain, and Stay Away were A LOT better than that.
    And Polly, Heart Shaped Box, All Apologies, About a Girl, In Bloom, Aneurysm, etc.
    I don't know what's worse . . . SLTS as #1, or that The Strokes came in at #5
    I agree. Seeing The Strokes on that list was a HUGE WTF moment for me. I find Last Night to be one of the more irritating songs ever, I can't stand it. How the hell did it make a list like this?
    I would say that Bohemian Rhapsody would be a great candidate for the worlds best song instead, although I love Nirvana, I must say that I don't agree with this list.
    I'm trying to decide who is more annoying: People who only know Smells Like Teen Spirit from Nirvana's discography, or people who say SLTS is a "terrible" song". If Nirvana put this song in the middle of one of their albums and never released it as a single, it would be one of those songs that make you seem cool for liking it. Kind of like Milk It.
    Yeah, I think that too. Like when people say they were just a band that came out at the right time (which is probably partially true). But if they were just some largely forgotten underground band, that song would just blow people away. We'd say "How was this not a hit?!" or something to that effect. But then I ultimately think that a song like Smells Like Teen Spirit is too good not to have done what it did.
    Love Will Tear Us Apart is the only one that warrants a top 5 spot. Teen Spirit and How Soon is Now? are both great songs but not top 5
    I wish I could have a job where I get high off my ass all day and make ridiculously incorrect lists.
    Are you serious? If I was to pick the best song of all modern (from 1950's - Now) time, I'd easily say Stairway to Heaven. It's not my favourite song, and it's certainly not my favourite Led Zeppelin song, but as a composition? It's incredible.
    lol I'm pretty sure the band themselves (or at least Kurt) hated the song. Even when I went through my Nirvana phase I couldn't stand that song.
    I love Nirvana a ton but always thought this was one of their most boring and monotonous songs. Important for rock, heavier music and massively influential - definitely - they played it on MTV constantly, which was really cool. But please, it's that riff over and over - the verse is 2 notes and the solo is the same as the vocal line
    My list: 1. Stairway to Heaven -Led Zepplain 2. Jump - Van Halen 3. Purple Haze - Jimi Hendrix 4. Yesterday - The Beatles 5. Heartshaped Box - Nirvana Honorable band mentions: Pink Floyd, Rush, Rascal Flatts, Green Day, Blink 182, No Doubt, REM, Bush, Counting Crows, Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park, Evanescence,etc. add your own to my list here.
    I love Nirvana... but the only award Smells Like Teen Spirit should win is most overrated song of all time.
    Smells like teen spirit was shit. Kurt didn't even write lyrics to it, and it makes no sense.
    This song was a great introduction to the band for many, but that is as far as it goes. When I got into Nirvana, I wouldn't have even put this song in Nirvana's top 10, let alone best song of all time.
    How to increase buzz about your mag, create a completly bogus list that has a song that is no where near the greatest of all time. NME must be the Brit version of Rolling Stone where the only music that is good is music that is "en vogue" at the time. Do the folks that work at these magazines even understand music? Do they listen to music?
    nobody agrees with it's choices, but certainly everybody agrees that the #1 is a legend
    Good songs, but just a terrible list. No Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin? The list goes on...
    So…..NME really has no clue what they are doing don't they? Unless, it's some publicity stunt to get attention (how many clicks did their website get after this retarded list came out? This is the magazine version of Miley Cyrus twearking with her tongue out.