Nearly 40% Of Fans Said This Was Their Least Favorite Nirvana Album

It's very rare to see a band have such a huge impact on the broader music scene in such a short period of time, but that's what happened when Nirvana's sophomore album, "Nevermind," and its carrier single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," both became massive hits toward the end of 1991. As a result, Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl were catapulted to unexpected rock stardom, and close to two years later, they proved that "Nevermind" wasn't a fluke by releasing "In Utero." Sadly, it was all over by April 1994, as Cobain's death by suicide led to the band's dissolution.

Twenty-seven years later, fans still look back fondly on Nirvana's legacy, and part of that includes debating on which of their albums is the best. And while it can be argued that there's no such thing as a bad Nirvana album, there's got to be one release of theirs that isn't as good as the others. That's exactly what we asked 598 respondents from the U.S., though we opted to streamline things by limiting the choices to Nirvana's three studio albums and not including compilations such as "Incesticide" and live albums like "MTV Unplugged in New York." That would have made things more interesting, but this survey was all about keeping it simple, and the final result did come as a bit of a surprise anyway. So which Nirvana album proved to be the least popular on our poll?

Bleach: Was the first album truly the best?

Back when they were recording their debut album "Bleach" in 1988 and 1989, Nirvana had a very different lineup from the one that eventually made it big. Chad Channing was the man behind the drum kit at that time, and a fourth member, guitarist Jason Everman, was originally credited on the album sleeve despite not playing a note on the record — he would leave Nirvana soon after "Bleach" was released and would become a twice-over Pete Best after a similarly short stint with Soundgarden. With that history lesson out of the way, "Bleach" finished last on our survey with 29.77% of respondents naming it as their least favorite Nirvana album.

Given how that effectively made "Bleach" the most popular Nirvana studio album among our respondents, it's safe to say that the raw production values are a major selling point, as opined by several users in this Reddit thread, as well as another Redditor, who went as far as to call it Nirvana's only "real" grunge album. As for the reasons why one would dislike "Bleach" over Nirvana's other two studio albums, the record's unpolished sound may not appeal to those who prefer the radio-friendliness of "Nevermind." Then there's also the issue of Channing's ability as a drummer — he's not bad by any stretch, but one user in the latter thread remarked that they would have loved "Bleach" the most "if Dave {Grohl] was the one drumming."

Nevermind: Some fans may dislike it because it sold so well

And here it is — the figurative comet that killed the hair metal dinosaurs' relevance in the rock scene. "Nevermind" was undeniably a groundbreaking album, and it was the one that made Nirvana the biggest name in rock while shifting everyone's attention from the Sunset Strip to Seattle. It was right in the middle of our survey, as 31.44% of the fans we polled named it as their least favorite among Nirvana's three studio releases. While it was the most popular commercially (over 30 million copies sold as of 2016, per Time), there are many fans who don't like "Nevermind" as much as the rest of the power trio's discography because of the very things that helped make it a hit — the catchy hooks found on almost every song on the album, and Butch Vig's slick, radio-ready production. 

While "Nevermind" featured now-classic tracks such as "In Bloom," "Come As You Are," and of course, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," one Redditor offered an interesting theory explaining why the album isn't too hot with many fans. "Nevermind isn't really a great reflection of what I feel the band was all about," they wrote. "Combined with the fact that it was mega popular you're bound to have people who wanna feel special." They did, however, make sure to note that "Nevermind" is "damn good no matter how you slice it."

Now that we've covered two Nirvana studio albums, there can only be one record taking the top spot in our survey. And that album is ...

In Utero: Return to roots or a step backward?

A good percentage of the people we surveyed weren't too much into Nirvana's final studio release, "In Utero," which got 38.80% of the vote, making it the least favorite album from the power trio. This proved to be quite interesting, as there was a lot of love for "In Utero" on Reddit; many users commended Nirvana for choosing not to make another version of "Nevermind" and for going back to their raw, uncommercial roots. One particular Redditor saw it a bit differently, noting that "In Utero" was "kind of a perfect blend" of Nirvana's other two studio albums and that it stood out for being the most artistic of the three.

As for the reasons why people may not like "In Utero," Jezebel's Maria Sherman listed several of them in a 2018 opinion piece, writing that the album was "the soundtrack to Nirvana rejecting their status as the greatest and most popular rock band of the early '90s." The lyrical content of "Rape Me" was likewise described as problematic when considering Kurt Cobain's public support for feminism. But all controversy aside, Sherman also saw "In Utero" as repetitive to the point that most of the album's second half tended to "blend together" and concluded her piece by calling the record a "gateway drug" to what she felt was a far superior album — Hole's breakthrough release, 1994's "Live Through This."

If our survey has proven one thing, it's that one's favorite Nirvana album may easily be someone else's least favorite — a classic case of "your mileage may vary," in other words.