Nirvana has proven to be the pivotal group of the 1990s, the three-man-band’s now classic Nevermind album the pinnacle of the Grunge Rock movement (perhaps with a nod to Pearl Jam’s Ten). Now that album, which was released in September 1991, has reached a milestone on the Billboard 200 album chart. As of the week ending March 26, 2016 (calendar date: March 15), Nevermind has recorded a total of 312 weeks — or six years — within the Billboard 200.
According to the Billboard, Nirvana’s Nevermind, chronologically the band’s second studio album, notched its 312th non-consecutive week inside the Billboard 200, the magazine’s all-genre’s catch-all chart of best-selling albums in the United States. The album wasn’t even in the top 200 albums listing last week, but with Dave Grohl being in the news all the time (played The Beatles’ “Blackbird” for the 2016 Oscars “In Memoriam” segment, a rare demo of Grohl singing lead on a Nirvana tune released online), an article connecting lead singer Kurt Cobain to recently deceased legendary producer George Martin, the release of police photos at the request of CBS News of the gun reportedly used in Cobain’s suicide, and the upcoming anniversary of the singer’s death (April 5), there are undoubtedly many factors influencing Nirvana fans old and new to buy and/or stream the album. Regardless, Nevermind jumped all the way into the No. 94 slot on this week’s chart.
Six years on the chart is an amazing feat, no matter the artist in question. Although there are many albums that stay on the chart for a year or so, then sporadically reappear over time, only to ghostly fade away to perhaps finding a uniqueness to become a question on “Jeopardy!” Most do not have the staying power to amass more than two or three years on the Billboard 200. And with the number of artists increasing by hundreds every year, the window to grab a permanent place in the fickle marketplace of popular music becomes ever more difficult. That is to say, every music artist cannot be The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Elvis Presley, or Pink Floyd.
And Nirvana didn’t get off to a great start. Nevermind debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 144 in its first week of release. But it gained traction as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” heralded a new age of angsty alternative rock. It would climb the chart and hit No. 1 in January 1992, four months after its release, supplanting Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. According to Billboard, two weeks later, after Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ The Wind spent two weeks in the top spot, the album would return for its last time in the No. 1 position. Not bad for an album that Geffen Records originally hoped would sell about 250,000 copies and, with a productive tour by the band, maybe reach gold album status (sells of 500,000 units) in a year. But the album would do far better than that, being certified both gold and platinum within weeks (November 1991). To date, Nevermind has sold over 10 million copies in the United States and roughly 24 million worldwide, it’s most famous songs — “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come As You Are,” “Lithium,” and “In Bloom” — all receiving constant rotation on various rock stations.
Rolling Stone named Nevermind No. 17 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The magazine also rated the album as the best album of the 1990s, as did Time magazine. Time would also place Nevermind in its “The All-TIME 100 Albums” list. The album was placed the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry, which collects historically important music compositions from the 20th century, in 2006.
To put Nevermind‘s six years on the Billboard 200 in perspective, it should be noted that AC/DC’s classic album Back In Black, which was released in July 1980 and currently rests at No. 142, has only enjoyed 255 non-consecutive weeks (that’s five weeks short of five years) on the chart. And Pearl Jam’s Ten? That contemporary of Nevermind, which was released one month prior to the Nirvana collection, has only spent 250 weeks to date on the Billboard 200 since its release in August 1991.
Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon, which currently isn’t on the album chart, is the album by which all others’ charting success is measured. That album, released in April 1973, has appeared on the Billboard 200 a total of 923 times to date. That breaks down to 17 years and 39 weeks. Now, that’s staying power.
But, then, nobody can compare to The Dark Side Of The Moon‘s charting longevity. And 312 weeks on the Billboard 200 is an impressive milestone only reached by a fortunate few (and, to be honest, mostly greatest hits compilations) in the history of the charts. At six years of charting in its near-25 years of release, Nirvana’s Nevermind is definitely making a statement for the band’s continued popularity as well.