mtfsb: judging enormous and/or overplayed songs

Got my CD collection + player next to my desk so listening to the Nirvana best of from 2002.

Smell Like Teen Spirit came on and I started thinking about it. It’s incredibly over played, but it is still an absolutely superb bit of a songwriting. Wouldn’t be my first choice of Nirvana song if I can only listen to one tune but it is both very good and very overplayed.

Let’s talk about songs like this that are really really massive. Not necessarily big sellers, cos there’s old songs that sold loads of copies that you wouldn’t hear played anywhere now.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

  • overplayed
  • not overplayed

0 voters

quality out of 5

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

0 voters

If you want some ideas, check out all the songs on here that aren’t recent releases.

if everyone follows my poll format we can produce a lovely graph at the end plotting how overplayed songs are vs how good we think they are, could be fun

My issue is not overplaying as such, more being played in totally unsuitable environments / situations, where it just feels really naff. The worst ever was some awful chain bar / club in Stevenage where every single weekend they would play the same medley of songs, including at most a minute of teen spirit.

There’s a Train song with over a billion streams? What a world.

Haha, was not prepared for Tame Impala to be on there

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I’ve never heard that song. I’ve only knowingly heard 1 train song and that ain’t it.

Arctic Monkeys is a surprise

Teen Spririt’s one of those Important Songs, like Anarchy in the UK, that’s more Important than it is Good

It represented a breakthrough of something new and authentic, which blew away hair metal etc and spoke directly to young people’s alienation and all that. It’s the Official Rock Song of every pop night ever (like in mega’s example above)

However, it’s about two minutes too long. What business does this song have being 4.40 (single) or 5 minutes (album) long! Once you’ve heard a verse and a chorus, you’ve heard it all, it doesn’t go anywhere else and it just sounds repetitive. About a minute of it in a mix would probably work tbh

The overplaying of it just drove that home to me, it just goes on and on, then it’s on again a bit later. Loses its urgency (good video though)

(It’s a bit like Entertain by Sleater-Kinney, oddly - huge, powerful tune that’s undermined by being too damn long. The video mix without the pointless guitar solo is way better than the album version)

I’m a big believer that about three minutes is the longest most pop songs need to be, unless there’s something proper fun happening later. Exceptions of course for the 16-minute mix of I Feel Love etc.

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One of my huge inner conflicts is my steadfast belief that people can like whatever they want, snobbery is bad and that disliking something because it’s popular is lame as hell but also my belief that at a certain level of ubiquity, a song ceases to become a song and becomes something different and nearly always irritating.

If I have heard a song over 50 times in my life without ever actively having chosen to put it on myself, I almost certainly find it very irritating

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Goldie closed Primavera this year with Smells Like Teen Spirit, 6am on the beach after 90 mins of d&b. Great moment. Still sounds great really really loud

C’mooon, it’s got a solo!!

There’s something in there that’s about what a song does to you when you listen to it, though. If you choose to put a song on repeatedly it’s because it hits your personal buttons in a way you find satisfying. If you sort of like Hey Ya but it wouldn’t make that personal choice list, but then you hear Hey Ya every day, you can too readily anticipate what it’s going to do and therefore it’s not as exciting or fulfilling. It’s not snobbery, it’s brainology!

Like, I will personally listen to From This Moment On by Shania Twain quite happily over and over again even though I know exactly what it’s going to do, because what it does is super-satisfying to me. There are a shitload of other similar songs that I can hear every now and then and enjoy, but repeatedly listening to them leaves me cold.


I’ve seen Springsteen quite a few times, and each time I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t play Born to Run because I’ve heard it a million times. And of course he plays it every time, and it’s always fantastic.


Just need time away from songs like that. I guess if you have the radio on at work or whatever it isn’t possible.

Listened to Nevermind for the first time in years recently and it’s great.

True, it does - it does that Green Album thing of following the vocal melody, like you can sing along to it (hello, hello, hello)

Listening to it now! LIVEBLOG:

Hell of an intro, no doubt
bit of guitar THWACK THWACK THWACK THWACK loud bit

Ooh it’s quiet and eerie
Words words wooooords, load up on guns
Hello hello hello hello


Verse 2, same as the first (nearly)
Quiet again
Words words woooords
Hello hello hello again


Solo! Same as teh verse but the guitar is talking, man
(hello hello hello but it’s a guitar)

Quiet again again
Words again - Whatever, nevermind
Hello again again


So yeah, it’s the hello hello bit four times (including the solo) that overdoes it for me, and also the loud bit (the intro/chorus/coda) are basically the same each time. Doesn’t feel like 5 minutes to be fair, although it had outstayed its welcome by the end for sure

Very surprised by the presence of Bonnie Prince Billy in there.

This is a song that overplays itself