Kurt Cobain

Nirvana’s frontman Kurt Cobain would have turned 50 on 20th February 2017. To celebrate the life of a pivotal figure in the grunge movement, music licensing organisation PPL has revealed a Top 20 chart of the most-played Nirvana tracks on UK radio and TV in the 21st century.

The chart includes both original tracks as well as the Seattle band’s cover versions of other artists’ songs such as David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (No. 6), ‘Love Buzz’ originally by Dutch group Shocking Blue (No. 14) and The Vaselines’ ‘Molly’s Lips’ (No. 18).

Tracks from the band’s 1991 multi-platinum certified album ‘Nevermind’ feature prominently with ten entries in the Top 20 and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (a Top 10 single from September 1991) taking the top spot. The subsequent ‘Nevermind’ singles ‘Come as You Are’ and ‘Lithium’ then take the No. 2 and No. 3 positions, respectively. ‘In Bloom’, a single released in the UK but not the US also makes an appearance at No. 5 in the chart.

‘Heart-Shaped Box’, the lead single from the 1993 platinum album ‘In Utero’ completes the Top Five (No. 4) and elsewhere there are surprising entries in the chart from cult fan favourite ‘Aneurysm’ (No. 9) and also the graphic and visceral album track ‘Territorial Pissings’ (No. 20).

Although their ‘Nevermind’ album was critically acclaimed upon release, it was not recognised with any major award wins whilst Nirvana were still active. It has since gone on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide, including over 1.8 million in the UK and 10 million in the USA.

The most-played Nirvana songs on UK radio and TV

1.) ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ (1991)
2.) ‘Come As You Are’ (1991)
3.) ‘Lithium’ (1991)
4.) ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ (1993)
5.) ‘In Bloom’ (1991)
6.) ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (MTV Unplugged) (1993)
7.) ‘All Apologies’ (1993)
8.) ‘About a Girl’ (1989)
9.) ‘Aneurysm’ (1991)
10.) ‘On A Plan’ (1991)
11.) ‘Drain You’ (1991)
12.) ‘Stay Away’ (1991)
13.) ‘Breed’ (1991)
14.) ‘Love Buzz’ (1989)
15.) ‘Serve The Servants’ (1993)
16.) ‘Lounge Act’ (1991)
17.) ‘Something In The Way’ (1991)
18.) ‘Molly’s Lips’ (1990)
19.) ‘Dumb’ (1993)
20.) ‘Territorial Pissings’ (1991)

*Compiled using PPL data from 2000 to 2016

Tim Silver, Head of Music Reporting Services at PPL said, “Kurt Cobain was one of the most visionary figures in music in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He inspired countless young people all over the world to start learning an instrument and to have the confidence to begin writing their own music. On what would have been his 50th birthday, we are delighted to be able to honour him with a chart of the 20 most-played Nirvana songs on radio and TV. There’re a lot of their best-known tracks in there but also one or two curveballs too.”

PPL is the organisation that licences music when it is broadcast or played in public and then ensures that the musicians and record labels involved get paid fairly as a result. The most-played Nirvana chart is based on PPL data from UK radio & TV broadcasters covering the period 2000 to 2016. Both the number of plays and total played duration are used to rank the tracks in the charts.