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It’s Official: Science Proves “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Is The Most Iconic Song Ever

It’s Official: Science Proves “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Is The Most Iconic Song Ever
Singer and guitarist with Nirvana, Kurt Cobain performs live on stage in Frankfurt, Germany on November 12, 1991 [Photo: Paul Bergen, Redferns]

Top brass at Fiat wanted a song for the car company’s next commercial for the Fiat 500, but not just any song—the most iconic song of all time. So the brand commissioned a scientific study, and voila, it turned out to be Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

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What a pyrrhic victory for Kurt Cobain, who probably hated car commercials more than just about anything.

For the study, Fiat brought on board computer scientist and musician Dr. Mick Grierson, from Goldsmiths, University of London, who examined 50 of the songs most commonly featured in all-timers lists from the likes of Rolling Stone and VH1. By meticulously combing over these 50 songs to see what various elements they had in common, Grierson was able to isolate what just may be the secret sauce of iconicity.

Grierson examined each song’s key, beats per minute, chord, and timbral variety, and sonic variance to determine just how each musician used sound in a more varied, dynamic way compared to the vast ocean of songs not on the list of 50. Among the common elements that contribute to what in common wisdom dictates a song as a total jam, “Smells like Teen Spirit” rated rather high.

Some of Grierson’s other findings include:

  • 80% of the songs were in a major key.
  • the average tempo was 125BPM, most of the songs having around 500 beats.
  • chord changes were low in most of the songs.
  • many featured the words ‘Baby’, ‘Feel’, ‘Love’ and ‘Nah’.

Will Kurt Cobain be feeling the love in heaven when he hears singer songwriter Ella Eyre re-master the song for a Fiat commercial soon? Nah.

[via Daily Mail]

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