PTBN’s Greatest Song of the 90’s Tournament: And the Winner Is…


In a contest that started with over 600 songs, the Nation has spoken. Nirvana’s generation-defining classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” defeated Metallica’s iconic “Enter Sandman” 215-163 to bring home the gold.  In an era of music defined as much by the angst of the artists as the songs themselves, this was a fitting choice. With the uber-popular hair metal bands of the 80’s slowing down, an unlikely group of flannel-wearing rockers cropped up from, of all places, Seattle.

In the traditional sense, Nirvana may not have been the greatest musicians of the era. But what they lacked in musical chops, they more than made up for in pure unadulterated emotion. Carrying an anti-establishment message and led by mercurial frontman Kurt Cobain, Nirvana single-handedly ushered in the grunge era. I would make the argument that their huge commercial success is the most unpredictable occurrence in the history of modern rock. In fact, given Cobain’s disdain for the spotlight, it was almost a cruel joke and ultimately led to his demise.

While we all probably have our favorite 90’s songs, the Nation did a fantastic job in choosing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as the winner. A great tune in its own right, it is also certainly the most influential song by the most influential band of the decade. 100 years from now if someone would like to know about music in the 90’s, the first thing we would play for them is the video for this song.

And so ends our exercise. We laughed (“All About the Pentiums”) and we cried (“My Heart Will Go On”). We screamed (“Killing in the Name Of”) and we danced (“Gonna Make You Sweat”).  It’s been real Place To Be Nation… here’s to the last great decade in music… here’s to the 90’s.