Ranking Every Nirvana Song – Part Thirty: “Mrs Butterworth” vs “Hairspray Queen”

In our previous installment (months and months ago!), we listened to Nirvana’s best-known song! It was a good one.

This time? Two songs nobody really cares about!

You probably won’t read this!

But I will finish this goddamned series whether or not any of us even wants me to.

Mrs Butterworth

I debated not including “Mrs Butterworth”, but I feel like I’ve kind of screwed myself by including songs like “Beans” and “Talk To Me”. “Mrs Butterworth” seems to be an original tune in a more or less complete form, although it was never taken into the studio. The recording included on the With The Lights Out collection is from a 1988 practice session. It sounds pretty rough.

We can get the obvious out of the way first: this isn’t very good. The verses are devoid of vocal melody and there’s a very long spoken word bridge section that is just brutal to sit through.

I’ll hand a few things to the song, though. The grinding riff is kind of fun and might have sounded great recorded by Jack Endino along with the tunes on Bleach. Also, the chorus – while not brilliant – sort of rocks in a garage punk 101 sort of way.

It’s not the worst song ever written, but “Mrs Butterworth” isn’t going to climb this list very high.

Hairspray Queen

One of the most confounding tracks on the Incesticide collection, “Hairspray Queen” has never been my cup of tea. There are a handful of tracks on this record that I feel like were deliberate stabs at arty noise-rock, and none of them are particularly successful. In my opinion. The other two (“Beeswax” and “Mexican Seafood”) are both hookier than “Hairspray Queen”, so this one is the bottom of that particular pile.

There are a few neat things going here, so I’ll mention them in the spirit of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, yadda yadda yadda.”

  • The ropey, disgusting bassline in the verses is kind of terrific.
  • The stabby, disgusting ascending guitar lead part that bridges the first and second verse is pretty fun and gross.
  • The chorus is almost a fun hook.
  • Is there a fuckup on this recording? There’s a spot where it seems like Kurt kicks on his distortion pedal late and the guitars are delayed in coming in for one short chorus section. Intentional? Probably not! They didn’t have ProTools back then, so it stayed in.

I think that this song must have been fun to play. The grinding and grunting part at the end is quite hilarious. I dunno. If they had stuck with their guns and continued to be this band, they certainly wouldn’t have been accused of being sellouts, and they certainly wouldn’t have been successful.

Nor would they have deserved to be.

The Ranking

These songs are both not very good. I am having a hard time deciding which one is worse. “Mrs. Butterworth” sounds pretty elementary when compared to the much more complicated “Hairspray Queen”. I guess “Hairspray Queen” is better. But I think that the “Mrs. Butterworth” has a fun chorus. But it also has that that spoken word section that sort of makes me wince the whole time it’s on.

They’ll both go under “Talk To Me”, which is a better song than either of them. Actually, fuck it. They’re both going under the Kiss cover.

The updated ranking is:

  1. In Bloom
  2. Heart-Shaped Box
  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit
  4. About A Girl
  5. Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle
  6. Breed
  7. Scentless Apprentice
  8. Territorial Pissings
  9. Dive
  10. Sappy
  11. Dumb
  12. Milk It
  13. Very Ape
  14. Lithium
  15. Serve The Servants
  16. On A Plain
  17. Drain You
  18. Polly
  19. Lounge Act
  20. Stay Away
  21. Sliver
  22. Tourette’s
  23. Love Buzz
  24. Blew
  25. School
  26. Rape Me
  27. Been A Son
  28. Endless Nameless
  29. Son of a Gun
  30. Molly’s Lips
  31. I Hate Myself And Want To Die
  32. You Know You’re Right
  33. Pennyroyal Tea
  34. Curmudgeon
  35. Moist Vagina
  36. Stain
  37. Mr Moustache
  38. Big Cheese
  39. Marigold
  40. Paper Cuts
  41. Lake of Fire
  42. Oh, Me
  43. Swap Meet
  44. Downer
  45. Scoff
  46. Aero Zeppelin
  47. Even In His Youth
  48. Oh, The Guilt
  49. Spank Thru
  50. Blandest
  51. Pen Cap Chew
  52. Talk To Me
  53. Do You Love Me?
  54. Hairspray Queen
  55. Mrs. Butterworth
  56. Ain’t It A Shame
  57. Clean Up Before She Comes
  58. Help Me I’m Hungry
  59. Opinion
  60. 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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