“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of the biggest songs in pop culture, featuring a hook that is undeniably iconic and catchy as hell. While the legendary Nirvana song is an absolute banger, there’s a chance that it could have turned out differently compared to the track we all know and love.
While chatting with Rob Harvilla of the 60 Songs That Explains the ’90s podcast, Courtney Love revealed lyrics the late Kurt Cobain wrote for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that didn’t make it into the final version of the song. Per Love, she says that (as transcribed by Loudwire), “Some of these were in these journals, and some of them are unpublished.”
She goes on to reveal the following lyrics: “Come out and play / make up the rules / I know I hope / to buy the truth / who will be the king and queen / of all the outcasted teens.”
Love then notes the following for when the chorus kicks in (which is surreal to imagine, considering how the hook for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is so iconically catchy):
“We’re so lazy / and so stupid / blame our parents / and the cupids / a deposit, for a bottle / stick it inside / no role model.”
She then shares the following additional verses: “We merge ahead this special day / this day giving amnesty to sacrilege” and “A denial / and from strangers / a revival / and from favours / here we are now / we’re so famous / here we are now / entertain us.”
While some of these lines did make it into the final cut of the song, Love shares that the demo for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was “a different song,” and says: “The only consistencies that it retains are ‘load up on guns and bring your friends’ and ‘little group has always been and always will until the end.’ That’s it.”
Among these lyrics, Love wishes that Cobain had kept the lines “Who will be the king and queen / of all the outcasted teens,” believing they would have helped her and her daughter out in regard to the public perception of them. Love says, “[It would have] helped my life a little bit better, taking on the shit that me and my daughter have.”
What do you make of these alternative lyrics to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Are there any lines that didn’t make the final cut you wish were in the song?