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Interesting facts and trivia about Smells Like Teen Spirit. By Songfacts®.

Kurt Cobain wrote this song for Nirvana; it came together in a jam session when he played it for the band. He said: "I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off The Pixies."

Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the group Bikini Kill, gave Cobain the idea for the title when she spray painted "Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit" on his bedroom wall after a night of drinking and spraying graffiti around the Seattle area. In his pre-Courtney Love days, Cobain went out with Bikini Kill lead singer Tobi Vail, but she dumped him. Vail wore Teen Spirit deodorant, and Hanna was implying that Cobain was marked with her scent. Hanna explained that early in the night, she was Cobain's lookout as he spray pained "God Is Gay" on the wall of a religious center that they believed was posing as an abortion clinic and telling women they would go to hell if they aborted their child. They got quite inebriated that night, and Hanna said, "We ended up in Kurt's apartment and I smashed up a bunch of s--t. I took out a Sharpie marker and I wrote all over his bedroom wall - it was a rental so it was really kind of lame that I did that. I passed out with the marker in my hand, and woke up hung over." Six months later she got a call from Cobain, asking her if he could use what she wrote on the wall for a lyric. Said Hanna, "I thought, how is he going to use 'Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit as a lyric?"

Cobain didn't know it when he wrote the song, but Teen Spirit is a brand of deodorant marketed to young girls. Kurt thought Hanna was complimenting him on his rebellious spirit, as someone who could inspire youth. Sales of Teen Spirit deodorant shot up when this became a hit, even though it is never mentioned in the lyrics.

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Song Analysis

Key, BPM (tempo) and time signature of Smells Like Teen Spirit.
4/4Time Signature


The album Smells Like Teen Spirit is released on.

Released By

The record label that has released Smells Like Teen Spirit.
© 2011 Geffen Records
℗ 2011 Geffen Records

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