Chart Beat

Nirvana Brings Rare ‘90s ‘Spirit’ to Billboard Global 200 Chart

Nirvana
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Nirvana at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards - Rehearsals at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.

The song is only the second non-holiday hit from the decade to make the list so far.

At the height of the 2020 holiday season, nearly half the Billboard Global 200 chart was occupied by seasonal songs, ranging from classics by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra to new-millennium jingles by Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande. But at the dawn of the new year, Christmas songs cleared out to make way again for the current class of global hits, as well as, notably, a pack of familiar, older favorites on the list for the first time.

Nirvana enters with its iconic 1991 single “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which debuts at No. 181. The song, which hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1992, arrives on the Global 200 (which began in September) with 9.7 million streams and 1,000 sold worldwide in the week ending Jan. 7, according to MRC Data, aided by the mass exodus of holiday titles.

“Spirit” is only the sixth song released in the ‘90s to appear on the Global 200 in the chart’s brief history. That sum is especially small compared to the 17 songs from the ‘70s and 15 from the ‘80s that have charted so far.

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Moreover, four of those six ‘90s hits are holiday songs, led by Mariah Carey’s recent four-week No. 1 “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” The others: Yuletide tracks by John Williams and *NSYNC and one Halloween-themed hit by Danny Elfman.

The only non-holiday song from the ‘90s to make the Global 200 other than “Spirit” is “Thunderstruck,” a 1990 single by AC/DC. The song charted for three weeks, reaching No. 179, energized by new music from the hard-rock Aussies, the band’s November LP Power Up. AC/DC also charted with title tracks to 1979’s Highway to Hell and 1980’s Back in Black, in addition to new song “Shot in the Dark,” and the band is generally more associated with its pre-‘90s output thanks, in large part, to the double-Diamond-certified success of the latter album.

That makes Nirvana’s Global 200 debut significant as essentially the first injection of ‘90s music on the Global 200 not driven by the holidays or an act’s boost in profile from new material.

Who could be next? Digging below the Global 200, Oasis’ “Wonderwall” (7.1 million global streams in the tracking week), Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” (6.8 million) and R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” (6.3 million) are candidates to bring further ‘90s flair to the survey.

Nirvana is not the only beneficiary of the end of the holiday season. Other older titles scale the Global 200 as swaths of seasonal songs depart, including “Hotel California” by the Eagles (No. 177) and “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers (No. 178).

Plus, two pre-2015 alternative hits debut on the Global 200: Coldplay’s “Yellow,” from 2000 (No. 172), and Arctic Monkeys with “Do I Wanna Know?,” from 2013 (No. 187).

Over on the Billboard Global Excl. U.S. chart, “Umbrella” by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z debuts at No. 188, marking the first appearance on either global chart for both superstars and the 2007 seven-week Hot 100 No. 1. The Police also notch their first hit on the new global tallies as 1983’s eight-week Hot 100 leader “Every Breath You Take” enters at No. 193.