The album would go on to usher in rock’s great renaissance, cause a seismic shift in popular culture, bring the underground to the mainstream and make unwilling stars out of three rather scruffy guys from the Pacific Northwest (OK, so Dave Grohl was technically from Northern Virginia, but he lived in Seattle while they were making the album).
And while we’d like to say the earth shifted slightly on its axis the moment that first box of Neverminds was cracked open, we’d be exaggerating. Back then, Nirvana were relative unknowns, and with popular music dominated by the likes of Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole and Color Me Badd (not to mention rock behemoths like Metallica and Guns N’ Roses), the odds of them making an impact of any sort seemed long, at best.
Of course, we all know how things turned out. All week long, we’ve been paying tribute to Nevermind’s 20th anniversary on MTVNews.com, but today, the album’s actual birthday, we’ve decided to honor its legacy in a slightly different way: by crunching the numbers. Because unlike the countless biographies, as-told-to features and behind-the-scenes tell-alls that came in the album’s wake, the numbers don’t exaggerate: Nevermind was (and still is) huge. Even if it probably never was supposed to be. Here are some vital stats about Nirvana’s seminal album:
7,305: Number of days since Nevermind was released. In case you’re wondering, that’s 175,320 hours, or 10,519,200 minutes, or 631,152,000 seconds.
46,521: Number of copies of Nevermind originally shipped to retailers by Geffen Records, which hoped the album would eventually sell 200,000 copies.
144: Nevermind’s debut position on the Billboard Top 200.
9: Number of weeks after its release that Nevermind was certified platinum (for shipment of 1 million units) by the Recording Industry Association of America.
1: Nevermind’s position on the Billboard Top 200 during the week of January 11, 1992, when it overtook Michael Jackson’s Dangerous to become the nation’s highest-selling album.
253: Total number of weeks Nevermind spent on the Billboard Top 200.
30 million: Number of copies Nevermind has sold, worldwide. In the U.S., it’s certified as diamond by the RIAA, for shipment of 10 million copies.
0: Number of Grammys Nevermind won (it was nominated for two).
4:30: Total length of first single, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The album version runs 5:01, making it the second-longest song on Nevermind (after aptly named hidden track “Endless, Nameless”).
9: Number of times Kurt Cobain shouts “a denial” at the end of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
6: Highest position “Smells Like Teen Spirit” held on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
$670 million: Amount, in cash and stock, Colgate-Palmolive paid to acquire Mennen, manufacturers of Teen Spirit anti-perspirant, in February 1992, six months after the release of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
2: Fragrances of Teen Spirit currently available: “Sweet Strawberry” and “Pink Crush.” During the height of the brand’s popularity, there were as many as 10.
$30,000-$50,000: Estimated budget of the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video .
$7 million: Estimated budget of Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream” video, widely reported to be the most expensive of all time.
18-25: Age of extras in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, according to the casting call. Extras were instructed to “adapt a high-school persona, i.e. preppy, punk, nerd, jock” and “be prepared to stay for several hours.”
4: Number of nominations “Smells Like Teen Spirit” received at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. It won two, for Best Alternative Video and Best New Artist in a Video.
1: Number of nominations “Weird” Al Yankovic’s “Smells Like Nirvana” received at the same show.
$50,000,000: Amount earned by the Kurt Cobain Estate in 2006, when he topped Forbes magazine’s annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list 12 years after his suicide.
MTV News reveals the Nevermind You Never Knew, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s definitive album with classic footage, new interviews and much more.