courtney love's favorite nirvana songs are mostly about courtney love

The former Hole frontwoman shared her personal Nirvana playlist, and it doesn't include 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.'

by Hannah Ongley
08 May 2017, 5:06pm

David LaChapelle [i-D, The Insider Issue, No. 236. October 2003]

No one ignites the wrath of Nirvana superfans (and surviving members) quite like Courtney Love. But that has never stopped the prolific alt-rock heroine from sharing opinions on her late husband Kurt Cobain's band. Last night on Instagram Live, Love waded into a debate every Nirvana buff has participated in: which songs are the best. Not that critiquing the band's archive is something Love has ever shied away from, but now we know exactly which tracks are on Love's personal playlist.

As NME notes, the former Hole frontwoman's #1 is "Heart Shaped Box." This shouldn't come as a huge surprise to anyone familiar with the 1993 In Utero hit's lyrics — or its controversial video. It's about Love's vagina. She confirmed as much on Twitter five years ago after Lana Del Rey covered "Heart Shaped Box" at a Sydney gig. "You do know the song is about my vagina right?" Love tweeted at Del Rey. "Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back umm." In a couple of follow-up tweets she said that she had personally contributed some of the lyrics, and implored del Rey to think about her vagina next time she sang the song. There was actually a next time. 

Less intimate tracks on Love's list address the couple's volatile relationship with fame. On In Utero's opening track "Serve the Servants," Cobain address his father, his fans, and the witch hunt on his wife. "If she floats then she is not / A witch like we have thought," he snarls on the song. "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" also sees Cobain grappling with his newfound superstardom, likening the late actress's clash with corporate Hollywood to the pressure from his record label to make more accessible songs. Love also has a more personal reason for liking the song. She wore one of Farmer's vintage dresses when she married Cobain in 1992.

The only one of Love's picks that doesn't come from In Utero is "In Bloom," which also addresses the failure of fans to understand Cobain as an artist. The song comes from Nevermind, and was actually Love's #1 choice for the album's lead single. "I was the one that earlier had told all of them, Dave, Krist, and Kurt: 'Don't put out "Smells Like Teen Spirit," put out "In Bloom," it's a better song!'" Love said last year. "I swear to God, I made an impassioned whole speech about it." Essentially, her list is a thread of subtweets to anyone who likes that song. Guess someone in the family has to be a true fan. 


Text Hannah Ongley
Photography David LaChapelle
Styling Patti Wilson
Hair James Brown
Make-up Mally Roncal
[i-D, The Insider Issue, No. 236. October 2003]

kurt cobain
courtney love