From time to time, The A/V Club quizzes musicians of varying degrees of repute about their least favorite song. Previous entries have included the late Oderus Urungus of GWAR on Billy Ocean’s “Get Out Of My Dreams (& Into My Car)” and John Vanderslice on the only Third Eye Blind song anyone can remember. Matters took a turn for the turgid this Tuesday, however, when the celeb subject was Max Bemis of the thoroughly feckless Say Anything. The song he’s got a problem with? Nirvana’s “Rape Me”.
The A.V. Club: So, why did you pick “Rape Me”?
Max Bemis: There’s two facets to why I picked that song. One is that it’s my least favorite Nirvana song. I also just straight-up don’t like it as a song.
The backstory is that Nirvana is one of my favorite bands, as one might imagine. I mean, they’re everybody’s favorite band. I think it would be very rare to find someone who wouldn’t say Nirvana’s an incredible band. But “Rape Me” is my least favorite Nirvana song and also my least favorite song of that era. It’s my least favorite grunge song—it’s my least favorite of many, many different genres and subsets of music. And the structure, the lyrics, the production, everything—I don’t like. I just don’t like it. Nevermind came out and changed my life. And when this came out off In Utero, I was really disappointed.
Sonically and musically, this song annoys me. Lyrically, it’s vapid. And then on another level, it annoys me because, as someone who makes music and someone who admires Kurt Cobain as one of the greater songwriters and musicians of our time—to me, it’s the prime example of a musician feeding into or just being overly influenced by success, even if his knee-jerk reaction is to write a song like “Rape Me,” where it’s railing against his success. He probably wouldn’t have written the song if it wasn’t for becoming this unlikely icon. And so, clearly, he wrote the song to be a punk rock song about, like, “Fuck the fact that I’m a celebrity and screw the fact that the man has co-opted Nirvana.”
AVC: But it was written before Nevermind even came out.
MB: Is that true?!