Last week I kicked off my attempt to craft a new – and definitive – ranking of every song that Nirvana ever recorded. A very small number of people seemed very enthusiastic about it, so I might as well continue to chip away at it. Welcome to Volume 2!
As a result of writing last week’s post, I have been listening to more Nirvana in general. It has been great! A good band, everyone. They were a good band.
As I look at this week’s picks, I do not actually anticipate that this ranking will be as difficult as the last. I will probably not have to check in with friends to make sure that I’m right. But let me know if I’m wrong!
A mid-album track from Nirvana’s debut LP, Bleach, “Scoff” does not quite rise to the levels of greatness that we have covered so far. Like many of the tracks on Bleach, this is more of a collection of chugging riffs than a well-woven cohesive song.
While I don’t think this song is nearly as good as most of Nirvana’s best material, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. The song’s central sludge-fest of a guitar riff locks into the drum figure that serves as the song’s introduction with a lunkheaded sort of charm. There are great drum flourishes all over the place on this track, serving as a reminder to all that Chad Channing was actually a really fun and creative musician. The double-kick fills that pound their way through the post-chorus interlude are so fun to listen to.
“Scoff” features some pretty hilarious vocal quirks, but I think they they add to my enjoyment of the song. From the “gimme back ma alky-hol” line to some of the grunts and wails, this track has some wacky stuff going on.
Not one of the greats, but definitely not a low point. Sounds great in situ with the rest of the Bleach album.
For many, I think that this song ranks as one of Nevermind‘s very few “filler” tracks.
Well, not for me, buddy.
I’m not sure that Nevermind has a weak track, and I think that “Lounge Act” – while perhaps not as stunning as some of its album-mates – is a terrific tune. It manages to capture the album’s loud-quiet-loud aesthetic while also serving as a perfect example of the band’s knack for ratcheting up a song’s intensity until something pops.
It seems obvious to mention the glorious bassline that anchors the verses of “Lounge Act”, but there’s terrific bass playing throughout. If you listen to the bass closely during the song’s final chorus, you’ll notice that Krist Novoselic is going apeshit on the thing. It’s actually pretty rare that we see a Nirvana song that so clearly features his playing, and it sounds phenomenal.
I’m a huge fan of the way that the vocals are handled on this tune as well. The cool and collected vibe of the song’s front half feature a side of Kurt Cobain’s vocal style that is otherwise absent from most of Nevermind, and the back half sees the performance erupt with an intensity that rivals “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. I was fucking obsessed with the screaming on this song when I was a kid.
This song is great. Is it as great as some of the other songs? It is really difficult to say!
I can pretty easily slot “Scoff” into the lowest slot of the ranking thus far. It is an okay tune, but does not measure up to the other big baddies that we’ve drawn so far.
“Lounge Act” is much more difficult. A powerhouse of a tune. I don’t think that it is quite enough to dethrone “Territorial Pissings”, but I believe that it just may be a little bit more vital than “Been A Son” – a song that I must reiterate is terrific. It rocks and it has an enormous sense of melody and seems like a song with something to say.
But… I have spent so many years playing bass in bands, that I really must give the nod to “Lounge Act” ahead of “Been A Song”. Bass players get a lot of flack. I say we win a round, just this once.
The updated ranking is:
- Territorial Pissings
- Lounge Act
- Been A Son
Territorial Pissings is the still greatest Nirvana song of all time!
You might disagree with this ranking. Please let me know in the comments or yell at me on Facebook.
When ‘Scoff’ starts I like to imagine Nirvana is covering ‘Hash Pipe.’
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