30 day song challenge: day 16 – a song that you used to love but now hate

Hate is too strong a word. I mean, I can think of plenty of songs that I just don’t want to hear again – Fool’s Gold by the Stone Roses doesn’t interest me any more, I’ve no real desire to listen to most of the shoegaze bands I enjoyed as a teenager, and lately Miracle by Foetus has me scrambling for the skip button because I’ve just heard it too many times.

A slight case of overplaying. That was our nickname for the Sisters of Mercy’s “greatest hits” collection, but truth be told I could listen to any of those tracks any time. The winner, though? The one track I literally never need to hear again? I think it would have to be Smells Like Teen Spirit.

When I was 15 we went on French Exchange, where we went to stay in France for two weeks. They paired me with a girl who could barely speak a word of English, so we spoke French the whole time we were in France, and then French again when she came to stay with me. What I mostly remember is that her favourite TV programme was 21 Jump Street, which never aired over here, but I certainly knew who Johnny Depp was, and we could both agree about him. It was cheaper to buy beer than Coca-Cola, so when we were out of the eyeshot of grown-ups we sipped weak lager and tried to find stuff in common. The French were strange – despite their reputations, we thought they were unfashionable and surprisingly uncultured – at least according to a 15 year-old’s idea of sophistication. I was a veggie at the time, but they had zero concept of vegetarianism, so my meal one evening consisted of a plate of runner beans and nothing else.

On the last night of our stay, they threw a school disco. It was pretty obvious early on that the music – cheesy chart hits of the day – was falling flat and they were left with a hall of bored teenagers. Then they played Smells Like Teen Spirit. Eight times. From the opening riff, the dancefloor erupted into life, but at the song’s close, everyone drifted back off to their shrugging corners. It was the one transnational common denominator. A universal unifier. Everybody loved Nirvana. There was even one kid who kept showing off by dancing out an elaborate routine involving a chair. The DJ obviously hadn’t thought to bring along any other alternative rock songs, so we just got







Nirvana and


If Nevermind was overplayed (in our house) to the point of ohpleasenonotthatagain, Teen Spirit has reached frankly surreal levels of overexposure. Because it was everywhere.

So, yes, I shudder and scramble for the “off” switch whenever I hear ding-a-ding-ading-ding, because it will take maybe 20 or 30 years for the sheer number of times I have heard the riff to level out to a background level – sort of like auditory radiation. Once it’s reached a safe enough level, I can risk exposure, but it won’t be any time soon.



Collapse Board has a somewhat happier take on Nevermind. It inspired me to dig out In Utero, which I never liked before, but now I’m starting to fall in love with it. Funny how that happens.


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