Ranking Every Nirvana Song – Part Twenty-Two: “Big Cheese” vs “Breed”

Last week’s post was a real banger. I loved it.

This one is half-great! And half so-so!

I won’t write much more, but see if you can guess which song I think is great and which song I think is just so-so. I think you’ll be pleasantly unsurprised.

Big Cheese

This song is… so-so. There you have it.

Kind of an also-ran track off of Bleach, I would place it near the dead center of the album in terms of how interesting it manages to be. It was, inexplicably, the B-side of the “Love Buzz” single. There are probably five or six songs from Bleach that I think would have made more sense, but I’m sure that they had a reason.

Like many of the songs on Bleach, “Big Cheese” has a handful of super interesting riff-focused sections. The “Jaws Theme” vibe of the opening is… cheesy. BIG cheesy! Pretty cool guitar squankin’ all over the place on this track, though. The verses are kind of lackluster in my opinion, but the increasingly unhinged quality of the vocal performance brings things up a notch as the song progresses.

The “black is black” section is a little bit more compelling, particularly when the bass guitar digs in and locks with the double-kick bass drum on the back half of the section. It’s a fun section and leads nicely into the little instrumental interlude/guitar solo section of the song, which is also pretty fun.

A pile of fun little riffs to be found here, but not so hooky or memorable a song that I think it deserves to be ranked highly on the list… or even all that highly against the other songs on this album.


Hey, “Breed” is a straight-up never-gets-old stone cold banger of a song. One of my all-time faves. Probably one of Nevermind‘s best.

So much to love about this tune. A perfect grinding guitar riff anchors the song. One of the archetypal grunge riffs, if you ask me. And you’re reading this blog, so that’s basically like asking me. It manages to deliver ultimate rock/mosh vibes while also being somehow very hooky and poppy. Infectious!

I think that this riff, out of all of the riffs in the world, may be the riff that I have hummed the most (Beavis and Butthead style) while puttering around my daily life. It is the perfect riff for repeating under your breath while you’re putting away the dishes or something. Try it! “der-ner ner ner DER ner, der-ner ner ner DER ner”

Now let’s talk about the bass tone, because it is spectacular. If this wasn’t the first song that I ever heard that featured bass guitar played through a fuzz pedal, it was at very least the first time I took notice of it. The completely blown-out bass sound is enormous and perfect. I adore it.

How about the drums? Opening things up with a machine-gun drum roll and then never letting up, I think that this tune features one of the best drum performances on the album. Those alternating crash cymbal hits? Just sublime! But not sublime like the band sublime! Their drummer was boring!

We can talk about the guitar now! When the guitar isn’t holding down the aforementioned perfect riff, it is creating a perfect wall of fucking insane noise. The bottom line and the key word here? Perfect.

In terms of melody, we’ve got one of the band’s most memorable “repeat a phrase” hooks in the verses, and then perhaps (close to) the catchiest and sing-along-i-est chorus (and post-choruses) of the whole album. It just sounds so huge and so immediate, I don’t know how anyone could resist.

The song just gets me goin’! Y’know?

Great track. No notes.

The Ranking

(this GIF syncs up weirdly well with the “she said” part of “Breed”)

“Breed” is obviously this week’s winner, and it’s not close.

“Big Cheese” will land just under “Mr Moustache”.

“Breed”… much tougher. I think I’ve gotta hand it the number five spot, bumping “Scentless Apprentice” and “Territorial Pissings”. TP is a real fan-favourite and I might catch shit for this, but I really do think that “Breed” is that good.

The updated ranking is:

  1. In Bloom
  2. Heart-Shaped Box
  3. About A Girl
  4. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
  5. Breed
  6. Scentless Apprentice
  7. Territorial Pissings
  8. Sappy
  9. Dumb
  10. Very Ape
  11. Lithium
  12. Serve The Servants
  13. On A Plain
  14. Drain You
  15. Polly
  16. Lounge Act
  17. Stay Away
  18. Sliver
  19. Love Buzz
  20. Blew
  21. School
  22. Rape Me
  23. Been A Son
  24. Endless Nameless
  25. Son of a Gun
  26. Curmudgeon
  27. Moist Vagina
  28. Mr Moustache
  29. Big Cheese
  30. Marigold
  31. Paper Cuts
  32. Lake of Fire
  33. Swap Meet
  34. Downer
  35. Scoff
  36. Aero Zeppelin
  37. Even In His Youth
  38. Oh, The Guilt
  39. Pen Cap Chew
  40. Do You Love Me?
  41. Ain’t It A Shame
  42. Clean Up Before She Comes
  43. Help Me I’m Hungry
  44. Beans

“In Bloom” is still the greatest Nirvana song of all time!

Live Clip of the Week!

Author: markmeeks

squid goals

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