Writer(s): Kurt Cobain (see lyrics here)
Released: December 6, 1993
First Charted: December 4, 1993
Peak: 45a US, 22 GR, 30 RR, 4 AR, 12 MR, 32 UK, 41 CN, 58 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 128.0 video, 178.23 streaming
Click on award for more details.
Awards (Sinéad O’Connor):
About the Song:
Nirvana became not just the poster children for the grunge movement but one of the biggest bands in the world with their major-label debut, Nevermind, and its iconic single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The success was daunting for the band’s singer/songwriter and guitarist Kurt Cobain, who never aspired to a life of fame and fortune. Despite the group’s concerted effort at a more underground sound with third album In Utero, Nirvana found themselves at the top of the charts again with a multi-million seller.
The album, released in September 1993, was preceded by the single “Heart-Shaped Box.” Its follow-up, “All Apologies,” came out in December. Like its predecessor, it wasn’t given a specific physical release in the United States. Nonetheless, it proved successful at radio, named by BMI as the most played song on American radio from 1994-5. WK Nirvana recorded a performance of the song in December 1993 for MTV’s Unplugged and it became the unofficial video for the song. It also reportedly gained more radio airplay than the studio version. WK
Cobain wrote the song in 1990 and the group first recorded it on New Year’s Day in 1991. When Nirvana recorded it again for In Utero, producer Steve Albini said he liked “the sound of the song as a contrast to the more aggressive ones” and that “it sounded lighter, but it didn’t sound conventional.” WK The song was remixed by Scott Litt (who’d worked with R.E.M.) to boost the volume on the vocals. WK
Cobain’s song“of regret and apology” TC took on even greater weight in light of his suicide on April 8, 1994. He “seems lost in a fog of other people’s expectations and his own low self-steem. He was sorry to his fans that he had abandoned them by being successful, he was sorry to his family, but mostly he was sorry for himself.” TC It became “a pointed look at the manner in which the media can so easily forget (or, more appropriately, ignore) the fact that its quarry might have feelings.” DT
Sinéad O’Connor, best known for her #1 hit “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1990, recorded the song on her 1994 album Universal Mother.
First posted 7/12/2023.