These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
At the 1992 American Music Awards, Nirvana lost Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist to Fire House. Yes, the band that made "Love of a Lifetime".
Consolation Award: Nirvana's only Grammy win could be considered this. After five unsuccessful nominations, the band finally won a Grammy award in 1996 for Best Alternative Music Performance for MTV Unplugged In New York. Seeing as how the band had already broken up by then after Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994, this was obviously the last chance the Grammys had to award the band.
Covered Up: "Love Buzz", originally by Shocking Blue, "Jesus Doesn't Want Me for a Sunbeam," "Son of a Gun," and "Molly's Lips" by The Vaselines, David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" (especially impressive Kurt says at the end, "That was a David Bowie song", and people stillbelieve that it'sa Nirvana song), "Oh, Me" "Lake of Fire" and "Plateau" by Meat Puppets, "Turnaround" by Devo, "The Money Will Roll Right In" by Fang, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" by Leadbelly, for some people "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks.note Itself a translated cover of a Jacques Brel song.
What's really funny about the Meat Puppets example is that 2/3 of the band played with Nirvana on the cover.
Epic Riff: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and the bass riff of "Come As You Are", to name just two.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Just about every Nirvana song has been interpreted as being about drugs, suicide, Cobain's childhood, or a combination of all three. Cobain himself wrote "Why in the hell do journalists insist on coming up with a second-rate Freudian evaluation of my lyrics, when 90 percent of the time they’ve transcribed them incorrectly".
Face of the Band: Cobain, of course. Dave Grohl escaped it by forming Foo Fighters. Krist Novoselic, on the other hand... (Naming the previous members or the second guitarist - who might be more known to Foo Fighters fans - is even more difficult.)
Fridge Brilliance: In the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video, the cheerleaders wear red "A"s on their shirts. Cobain originally got the idea for the song from his friend Kathleen Hanna, during a discussion of anarchy and rock. The "A" could stand for anarchy, or be an allusion to The Scarlet Letter, which is about a girl who's alienated for her actions. Punk rock and grunge music was considered the ultimate edgy and alienating a person could listen to, and the culture it established intentionally drove itself away from the mainstream.
Another example from "Smells Like Teen Spirit": A common stereotype among troubled teenagers is that they all get bad grades in school. "Teen Spirit" is played in the key of F minor.
From "Milk It": "A look on the bright side is suicide".
From "Come As You Are": "I swear that I don't have a gun".
From "Stay Away": "I'd rather be dead than cool".
From "You Know You're Right" "Things have never been so swell" And this song was officially released AFTER his death.
A song called "I Hate Myself and Want to Die" - which is actually very sarcastic, with the title taken from Kurt's deadpan response to a journalist asking him how he was feeling - was scheduled to be the b-side on the "Pennyroyal Tea" single. It was cancelled after he killed himself.
Hell Is That Noise: "Endless Nameless" and the opening to "I Hate Myself and Want to Die."
Nirvana's record company greatly underestimated how popular Nevermind would be, and they thought it might certified gold by September 1992 if everybody worked hard. This was based on the number of copies Sonic Youth's Goo had sold. It was certified gold and platinum in November of 1991. It ended up selling thirty million copies worldwide.
The record company also believed that Lithium would be the big hit off of Nevermind.
Hype Backlash / Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Given their extensive praise as important musicians and Cobain's comparatively poor guitar skill, many modern listeners fail to see the attraction.
Indeed, it is difficult to understand how much of a breath of fresh air Nirvana was without having lived through the bombardment of cheesy, manufactured hair metal power ballads during The Eighties, as well as the Milli Vanilli scandal.
Magnum Opus: Depending on who you ask, either Nevermind or In Utero. Cobain himself preferred the latter. MTV Unplugged has been called one of the greatest live albums of all time.
Dave Grohl: We knew something was happening because the atmosphere at the gigs just changed, they went from being cool, hipster underground people in a club to, like jocks were coming to the show. That was the first thing like 'You've got these jocks here, y'know, that's kinda strange, they like our music? You used to kick my fucking ass for listening to this music!'
Misaimed Marketing: The band has inspired T-shirts, a couple Kurt Cobain action figures, an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, and an appearance by Cobain in Guitar Hero 5. Isn't this against what Cobain believed?
Speaking of Guitar Hero 5, Courtney complained about the Activision using Kurt's likeness and threatened to take legal action...until Activision produced the contract she'd signed giving them permission to do so. As the CEO put it: "The check's been cashed." Presumably, Courtney also signed off on the action figures and exhibit. She definitely was the one behind the publication of Kurt's journals.
Mis-blamed: Courtney Love didn't exactly help Kurt's state of mind, but she wasn't solely responsible for getting him hooked on heroin; that was mostly down to Kurt's "self-medicating" for the stomach problems he had suffered for most of his life. The Charles Cross biography suggests, however, that it was the reverse — it was Kurt who got Courtney back onto heroin.
"Smells like Teen Spirit" smells like Boston's "More Than a Feeling", though Cobain always insisted he intended the song to be a "Pixies ripoff" and called it "a stupid riff... a 'Louie Louie' riff".
"Come As You Are" sounds like Killing Joke's "Eighties", and the band were reportedly brought to court over it.
"Milk It" has a chorus riff that sounds very similar to Melvins' "It's Shoved" - Kurt Cobain was a Melvins fan and roadie before forming Nirvana, so it may have been intended as a Shout-Out.
Squick: "Mexican Seafood" is sort of the musical equivalent of a Grossout Show, featuring such delightful imagery as "Now I vomit cum and diarrhea / on the tile floor like oatmeal pizza". Perhaps it's fortunate that the verses are nigh unintelligible even by their standards.