10 Greatest Nirvana Riffs

We continue our series of “Greatest Riffs” Loud Lists with the most dominant rock band of the 1990s, Nirvana. A rock and roll riff machine, Kurt Cobain created (or straight-up lifted) some of the most iconic guitar leads of the past 30 years.

You’re probably assuming we put “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at No. 1, right? Not so fast! Though “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is perhaps the definitive song of the ‘90s, we think there’s at least one better riff from Nirvana’s collection. Though we adore the four-chord perfection of “Teen Spirit,” one In Utero cut stands out with even greater character, and more importantly, originality.

For all you Bleach fans, don’t worry, we added the best lick from Nirvana’s debut album because few songs can boast the raw power of the intro for “School.” We even pulled a track from Nirvana’s Incesticide compilation. Nope, it’s not “Sliver.” We actually gave the nod to “Dive,” a deeply underrated track that celebrates Nirvana’s sludge influences.

Nirvana’s “All Apologies” often gets credit as the ultimate softer song in the Seattle band’s collection. Kurt Cobain’s vocal approach is stunning on the track, but that main riff is intoxicating. You’ll see “All Apologies” take a high position in this video as well.

Check out our picks for the 10 Greatest Nirvana Riffs in the Loud List above!

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