Nirvana's 'In Utero': You Won't Believe These First Reactions From 1993

When MTV News spoke to St. John's students on the day of release they were torn over the lyrics and sound of Nirvana's final studio album.

Pastel-striped and paisley shirts, leather biker jackets, acid washed jeans and what appeared to be a shocking disregard for hair product.

That's what MTV News encountered back in September 1993 when we descended on St. John's University in Jamaica Queens, New York, on a rainy Tuesday to ask students about an album we figured kids on a college campus would all be super amped up to get a first listen to.

After all, In Utero was Nirvana's eagerly anticipated follow-up to their world-crushing major-label debut, Nevermind, and rumors had been swirling for months about how the Seattle trio were out to blow up the outside world with their difficult new album.

So, as part of a celebration of the 20th anniversary re-release of In Utero we looked back at that tape and were a bit surprised at some of the answers we got. While most of the underclassmen we stopped said they were fans of the band and their uncompromising stance, a couple had never listened to Nirvana and once they did they weren't that psyched about what they heard.

Wait, what? "Smells Like Teen Spirit?" Kurt Cobain? Grunge? That video with the punk rock cheerleaders that we all thought helped change the world? The naked swimming kid chasing the dollar bill? Nothing?

Because we're cool like that, we handed out shrink-wrapped copies of the CD (seriously, there were no iPods back then!) and asked our new college pals to give us their honest opinions on the contents. Computer science major Nicole loved it, as did superfan Billy, who had an undeclared major at the time, but likely went on to be a radio programmer, since he suggested a few potential hit singles, including "Heart-Shaped Box," and "Pennyroyal Tea."

Some of the lyrics went over the head of finance major Ron, who felt they were just haphazardly "thrown in" and might have made more sense if his mind had been altered at the time. The harshest critique, though, came from school librarian Diane, who was offended by the controversial track "Rape Me."

"I was not too happy with that song," she said. "I found it kind of offensive." Not Sean, though. The education major and Nirvana neophyte said with a smile that he actually loved that song. "It was great," he said. Ron just felt Nirvana were just after controversy with the tune that "had no meaning to it."

We now know that Cobain actually intended it as an anti-rape anthem, and he used the blunt language in it to make his point crystal clear.

First impressions mean a lot, and while our friends from 1993 couldn't have had all that information on the day we handed them those CDs, it's a testament to the power of In Utero that we're still thinking about it, and talking about it, 20 years later.