Nirvana: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Piano Sheet Music

Look, listen, and learn about Nirvana's Grunge Alternative Rock classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" featuring piano solo arrangements by Jennifer Eklund.

Nirvana: "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Piano Sheet Music

🤘 It’s the un-official anthem for all of us supposedly apathethic, disaffected, late Gen-Xers!


About Nirvana:

Nirvana, an influential American rock band formed in 1987, achieved massive success in the early 1990s and played a pivotal role in popularizing alternative rock. Led by Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, the band’s dynamic sound, characterized by quiet verses and heavy choruses, emerged from the Seattle grunge scene. Their breakthrough came with the release of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from the album Nevermind in 1991. Despite a short mainstream career of three years, Nirvana’s impact persists, with their music continuing to influence modern rock culture. Their third studio album, In Utero, was well-received before the band disbanded in 1994 following Cobain’s suicide. Nirvana remains one of the best-selling bands, having sold over 75 million records worldwide, and received numerous awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

About “Smells Like Teen Spirit”:

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a seminal song by the American rock band Nirvana, serving as the opening track and lead single from their second album, Nevermind, released in 1991. The song’s unexpected success catapulted Nirvana and the grunge genre into the mainstream, marking a significant moment in music history. The accompanying music video, directed by Samuel Bayer, depicted a chaotic high school pep rally and became iconic, winning MTV Video Music Awards and setting records for its play on MTV Europe. Despite the band’s discomfort with its commercial success, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains praised as one of the greatest songs of all time.

The song’s creation involved lead singer Kurt Cobain’s attempt to craft the ultimate pop song, drawing inspiration from the Pixies. The lyrics, initially challenging to decipher, contributed to the song’s mystique and generated various interpretations. Cobain’s lyrics, often contradictory and ambiguous, contributed to the song’s appeal and sparked discussions about its meaning. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” received critical acclaim, topping charts worldwide and earning Nirvana multiple awards. However, the band later expressed discomfort with the song’s popularity, and Cobain, in particular, found playing it an almost embarrassing experience.

The music video, shot by Bayer, depicted a high school rebellion and added to the song’s cultural impact. Cobain, dissatisfied with the initial edit, oversaw a re-edit to better align with the band’s ethos. The video’s success contributed to Nirvana’s rise to fame, and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” remains an enduring symbol of the grunge movement, earning accolades and recognition from various sources, including rankings on lists of the greatest music videos and songs of all time.


1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Advanced Piano Solo

Key features of the advanced version:

  • Includes all verses, choruses, solo section, and full ending.
  • Nice thick textures and “back-beats” to mimic the rhythm guitars are built into the arrangement.
  • Includes full lyrics
  • 9 total pages
  • Run time is approximately 5:00

🧐 Sheet music sneak peek:


2. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Intermediate Piano Solo

Key features of the intermediate piano version:

  • Abridged version includes: first verse, chorus, third verse, final chorus & outro
  • Slightly thinner textures and less built-in back-beats than the advanced version.
  • Includes truncated lyrics
  • 6 total pages
  • Run time is approximately 3:20

🧐 Sheet music sneak peek:


3. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Easy Piano Solo

Key features of the easy piano version:

  • Abridged version includes: first verse, chorus, third verse, final chorus & outro
  • In the original key (you just need to deal with the key signature because transposing this song seems like blasphemy!)
  • Includes truncated lyrics
  • 5 total pages
  • Run time is approximately 3:20

🧐 Sheet music sneak peek:


🎹 Looking for more 90s Alternative Rock piano sheet music?


👋 Did I miss one of your favorites? I’m always open to requests so drop me a comment!


Jennifer Eklund
Written by Jennifer Eklund
Jennifer Eklund holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach. She is an avid arranger, composer, and author of the Piano Pronto® method books series as well as a wide variety of supplemental songbooks. She is also a Signature Artist with Musicnotes.com with a large catalog of popular music titles for musicians of all levels.

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