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Commemorating Kurt Cobain's 50th Birthday: Nader Mansour of The Wanton Bishops Picks His Top 5 Nirvana Tracks

By STEP Music
Kurt Cobain live on a French TV show in 1994 (via YouTube)

Today is Kurt Cobain’s 50th birthday. Or rather, it would have been had Cobain not taken his own life, aged 27, in April 1994. At the time, he was the biggest rock star on the planet. His band, Nirvana, had introduced grunge and the Seattle scene to the mainstream with their monstrously successful sophomore album Nevermind, released in 1991. Cobain had, unwillingly, become ‘the voice of a generation’.

Nirvana’s success changed the music industry. Suddenly, ‘alternative’ music was a commercially viable option for major labels(perhaps too viable, if the hundreds of Nirvana imitators signed to labels in the early Nineties is anything to go by), and bands who would never have received radio airplay or had their videos on MTV (which, at the time, was still actually a music channel and a major force in the music industry) were getting their turn in the spotlight.

To commemorate Cobain’s 50th birthday, we’re offering a limited-time deal of two tickets for the price of one to STEP Music – a new music gathering in Dubai, taking place on April 7, that is focused on promoting and supporting the alternative, independent music scene in the Middle East. The region is still waiting for its ‘Nirvana moment’, but hopefully it’s coming soon.

Sign up for the 2FOR1 offer here before Feb 25.

We’ve asked Nader Mansour, frontman of The Wanton Bishops, one of the most successful English-language bands to emerge from the region – and one of the speakers at STEP Music, to select his five favourite Nirvana tracks. Here’s what he had to say:

“I've never been a huge Nirvana fan. But then again, I've never really indulged in the art of being a fan of anyone. I was introduced to Nirvana in my teen years, and, needless to say, my rebellious spirit quickly adopted the whole experience. I didn't like Kurt's voice, nor his guitar work, and I definitely disliked Dave's drumming, but there was something about them; something dangerous, some sort of a looming inevitable doom.

Later on, I figured it out: It was that peculiar brew of tender intimacy and visceral explosions they made their trademark – calm verses and ridiculously loud choruses.”

Love Buzz

“This was a cover of a Dutch rock outfit called Shocking Blue. I was very much attracted to the exotic Oriental-like feel of the riff. Instant hook. Although it's probably the song that sounded least like Nirvana.”

Rape Me

“The title alone gives you the creeps! The softness with which Kurt is asking to be raped is highly unsettling.”


“The main riff is incredibly effective. It hits you straight up.”

Something In The Way

“The strings on this one are just melancholically beautiful. Arguably their softest song, it stands out with its special intense calmness.”

Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Well, this was the anthem of a whole generation. And, as much as one should question whatever songs are extremely popular in a band's career, this song is darn good. It has the uncanny ability to make opposites meet and blends ease and sophistication. It's a jewel to me.”

Nader Mansour will be speaking at STEP Music on April 7th alongside some of the other biggest names in the Middle East’s independent music scene. To get STEP Music 2FOR1 deal, simply sign up here before Feb 25.