The Nirvana song MTV banned them from playing


Nirvana provided a much-needed breath of fresh air to the music world at the start of the 1990s. Instead of the millions of hair metal bands who wanted to parade their thing all over MTV. Kurt Cobain didn’t care what the masses had to say. He frequently played the music he liked and shoved any other band away. Although MTV rode the grunge wave as far as it could go, they did draw the line at one Nirvana song in particular.

When collecting material for their upcoming album, Nirvana surprised fans by including a song titled ‘Rape Me.’ Although Cobain stated several times that the song was an anti-sexual assault song, the majority of the public did not bother to read past the song’s primary title. They believed that Cobain was just aiming to offend.

Looking back through Nirvana’s discography, Cobain had been pushing for women’s rights throughout his songs. Later noting, “The problem with rape groups is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. Society needs to teach guys not to rape.”

While Nirvana’s opinion on the topic was clear, MTV management nonetheless barred them from playing the song during the MTV Awards. After debating which song Nirvana could perform that night, the censors decided against playing ‘Rape Me‘. Also instead suggested they play their cherished Nevermind cut ‘Lithium‘.

Though Cobain finally gave in, he had his way when the cameras started rolling. Instead of starting the song, Cobain plays a brief clip of ‘Rape Me’ before returning to ‘Lithium’. He sang it as if nothing had occurred.  This act of defiance only solidified Cobain as the voice of his generation, even though it might have angered MTV executives. The punk rock answer to all of the safe acts that MTV had previously shown.

Even when the band performed on MTV Unplugged, Cobain was still unhappy with the limitations imposed by the TV station in the beginning. During their break, a fan could be heard demanding that the band play ‘Rape Me’. They asked it before covering Lead Belly‘s ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night‘. Cobain, with a caustic humor, turns to the audience and jokes. He says that he’s not sure MTV would let them broadcast that song.

Even if the censors held Nirvana back, they managed to capture the majority of their ideas on record. Before revealing their deeper feelings in In Utero, the sparse acoustic melody ‘Polly’ marked one of the first times Cobain discussed the gloomy subject matter. He presents a situation in which a lady escapes sexual assault due to her attacker letting his guard down.

Despite experiencing hangups in MTV’s studios, Nirvana was never afraid to express their views on more controversial matters. In a world when most bands were making songs about fluff, Cobain decided to utilize his position to discuss the true hardships of the world.

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