30 Years of Bleach

It's been thirty years since Nirvana's first album, Bleach, was released. How has society evolved since then? Are the themes in Kurt Cobain's lyrics still current? Let's find out.


‘Blew’ was inspired by Cobain’s intense claustrophobia whilst living in Aberdeen, Seattle, as a teen. He was restless when he was growing up and would often fantasise about killing his classmates.

Mass shootings account for 1% of gun deaths in the US

  • 12
  • 0

Number of mass shootings in the US - 1989-2019

Mass shootings in the US have increased rapidly in the last decade, but more than 99% of gun deaths in the US are from shootings other than mass shootings. Daily gun violence contributes to the average of 100 gun deaths each day in the US.

About A Girl

The song that would spark Butch Vig’s interest in producing Nevermind, About A Girl was written for then-girlfriend Tracy Marander, who constantly complained that he had written songs about every element of his life apart from her.

Number of female members of the US Senate continue to grow

  • 25%
  • 0%

Percentage of female representatives in US Senate - 1989-2019

Kurt Cobain often referred to himself as a feminist, so we reckon he would be chuffed to learn that there are currently 25 women serving in the U.S. Senate. In 2019, Nevada became the first state with a majority-women state legislature at 50.8%.


Cobain poised the Seattle grunge scene as ‘incentously small, cliquey and stuck-up’, and decided to scorn the grunge scene with School, a very grunge song.

Evolution of Grunge

The evolution of Grunge from 1989 to present day begs the question: Is it really still grunge? The original Grunge ‘heros’ Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains have collectively sold well over a 100 million albums worldwide.

Love Buzz

Love Buzz is actually a cover of a song from 60's psychedelic band, Shocking Blue. Kris played his version of the riff at rehearsals with Nirvana one day, not knowing that this cover would be integral to their getting signed to Sub Pop Records.

Dating has changed in the last 30 years

  • 0%
  • 20%
  • 1980's
  • 1990's
  • 2000's
  • 2010's

Cyan is percentage of people who met through friends; red is percentage of people who met online.

Dating services have changed significantly since 1989. It is estimated that around 1.6 billion swipes are made on Tinder every day, with roughly 26 million of those resulting in matches and one million progressing to actual dates.


Scoff is about people who have been told that they will never amount to anything in life.Scoff depicts the worthlessness Cobain’s dad instilled in him as a kid. With lyrics such as ‘gimme the alcohol’, Scoff also deep dives into Cobain’s relationship to alcohol because of it.

One in every twelve adults suffer from alcohol abuse

  • 2.45
  • 2.15

Per capita alcohol consumption in the US (in gallons of ethanol) - 1990-2017

Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every twelve adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Every year, several million more drink heavily. Not all binge drinkers become alcoholics, but it is a risk factor.

Swap Meet

Another song inspired by Cobain’s time in Aberdeen, Swap Meet describes people selling their unwanted stuff at car boot sales to try and keep it together financially. He goes on to say that they only have their photographs, cigarettes and broken relationships holding them together.

Poverty rate in the United States from 1989 to 2018

  • 15.5%
  • 11.0%

Percentage of people living in poverty in the US - 1989-2018

With several peaks in the last thirty years, the US poverty rate has decreased overall by 2% from 1989 to 2018.

Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art

Despite the rise in female senators and a decrease in the US poverty rate, the world is still very similar to that of which Cobain reflects upon in Bleach. Indeed, a lot may have changed within the last thirty years, but in many ways, it has remained exactly as Cobain left it.