Watch: 30 Years Ago, Nirvana Reacts to College Students’ Critiques of ‘In Utero’

Mystik Spiral, YouTube (MTV) / In Utero: Kurt Cobain: art direction, design / Alex Grey: illustrations / Robert Fisher: art direction, design
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Today marks the 30th anniversary of In Utero, the third and last studio album from Seattle, Washington grunge legends Nirvana. Coming off of the pop culture juggernaut that was Nevermind, In Utero features the band taking on an aggressive sound with tracks like “Tourette’s” and “Scentless Apprentice.”

Upon the album’s release in 1993, MTV was curious to know what young audiences think about the new Nirvana album. Heading out to St John’s University in Jamaica, NY a representative working with the TV station asked a variety of students if they were fans of Nirvana – several said yes, and a couple of them said they weren’t familiar with the band.

MTV then gave each of these students a copy of In Utero to check out and then report back the next day with what they thought of the album.

Among the feedback MTV received from the students about In Utero, one student shared that she thought the record was “great,” and another said it sounded “very similar” to the band’s first album, Bleach. When asked if they would recommend the album to friends, several students said they would.

On the more critical side of things, one student said (as transcribed by The Pit), “A lot of the lyrics, I thought, were just thrown in. I mean, they could have a deeper meaning, and I tried to really analyze them. But some of these lyrics just seem – I think if I were stoned when I listen to it, I might like it better. But I don’t do that anymore.”

A criticism brought up by two students was in regard to the band’s song “Rape Me.” One student shared that she liked the first couple of songs on the album but when it came to the aforementioned track, she said, “I was not too happy with that song. I found it kind of offensive.”

Following this broadcast involving the students, MTV invited Nirvana to watch the recording of their critiques. In response to the young man who talked about how being stoned might help him enjoy the record, Krist Novoselic said, “I mean, College,” with Dave Grohl following up with, “It’s target marketing.”

In response to the young woman who expressed that she found the song “Rape Me” to be offensive, Kurt Cobain chimed in and defended the track, sharing the following:

“It’s an anti – let me repeat that – anti-rape song. I got tired of people trying to put too much meaning into my lyrics. [inaudible]. So I decided to be really blunt and bold.”

Cobain and the rest of the band went on to talk about the level of collaboration that took place on In Utero and mention the book, Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana (which also came out in 1993).

In celebration of the album’s 30th anniversary, the band is selling a massive vinyl re-release, featuring 53 unheard tracks. What was your reaction upon first listening to In Utero? Among Nirvana’s albums, where do you rank it?

College kids react to In Utero, Nirvana reacts to critics