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"Rape Me" is a song by the American grunge band Nirvana, written by frontman Kurt Cobain. The song was released as the second single from Nirvana's third album In Utero in 1993, packaged as a double A-side along with "All Apologies". The single reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart.


Background and recording[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"Rape Me" was written by Kurt Cobain on an acoustic guitar around the time the band's second album, Nevermind, was being mixed in 1991.[1] Nirvana first performed the song live that year, although Cobain had not yet written lyrics for the bridge section.[2]

Nirvana had wanted to play "Rape Me" during its performance at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. While MTV initially told the band they could play any song they wanted, the network later insisted that the group play "Smells Like Teen Spirit" instead. Hours before the show, Nirvana refused to play. However, due to concerns that the network could boycott other artists on the group's label if the group refused to play the show, Nirvana ultimately settled on performing its then-latest single "Lithium". At the start of the performance, Cobain started playing and singing "Rape Me" instead; he said he did so "just to give [MTV] a little heart palpitation". Panicked, MTV was moments away from switching from the live performance to a commercial when the band segued into "Lithium".[3]

Nirvana first recorded "Rape Me" during two-day demo sessions with producer Jack Endino in SeattleWashington in October 1992. Two takes of the song were recorded; the first was instrumental, while the second featured lead vocals by Cobain and backing vocals by drummer Dave Grohl. Cobain was holding his then-infant daughter in his lap when he recorded his vocals, and she can be heard crying on the demo.[4]

In February 1993, Nirvana traveled to Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, to record its third album In Utero with producer Steve Albini. The band recorded the music for "Rape Me" on February 15.[5] The following day, Cobain completed his vocals for the album during a reported six-hour session.[6]

Meaning, composition and lyrics[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Kurt Cobain conceived "Rape Me" as a life-affirming anti-rape song. He told Spin, "It's like she's saying, 'Rape me, go ahead, rape me, beat me. You'll never kill me. I'll survive this and I'm gonna fucking rape you one of these days and you won't even know it.'"[7]

Nirvana biographer Michael Azerrad stated that "Rape Me" seemed to deal with Cobain's distaste of the media's coverage on his personal life. While Cobain said the song was written long before his troubles with drug addiction became public, he agreed that the song could be viewed in that light.[8]

Other versions[edit source | editbeta]Edit

A live version of "Rape Me", recorded on Saturday Night Live on September 25, 1993, appears on the compilation album, Saturday Night Live: The Musical Performances, Volume 2, and on the DVDSaturday Night Live: 25 Years of Music, Volume 4.

Two versions of the song appear on the 2004 Nirvana box set, With the Lights Out: a solo acoustic home demo, and the 1992 studio version. Both versions also appear on the 2005 compilation album, Sliver: The Best of the Box.Frances Bean Cobain can be heard crying in the background of the studio demo version.

A live version, recorded on October 31, 1991 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington, appears on disc four and the DVD of the "Super Deluxe" version of the 2011 Nevermind reissue, and on the standalone 2011 Live at the Paramount DVD and Blu-ray release.

The song was relabeled "Waif Me" on the packaging for Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, which found the actual title too controversial; the song itself remained unchanged, however.[9] The song is listed by its proper title in the booklet.

The metal band Vampires Everywhere! recorded a cover version of "Rape Me" for their second album, Hellbound and Heartless.

Track listings[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Released as a double A-side with "All Apologies".

CD single and 12" vinyl

  1. A. "All Apologies" - 3:50
  2. A. "Rape Me" - 2:49
  3. B. "Moist Vagina" - 3:34

Cassette and 7" vinyl

  1. A. "All Apologies" - 3:50
  2. A. "Rape Me" - 2:49

UK promo single

  1. "Rape Me" - 3:50
  2. "All Apologies" - 2:49

US promo CD (includes lyrics)

  1. "All Apologies"
  2. "Rape Me"

Charts[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1993/1994) Peak

position

Australian ARIA Singles Chart[10] 58
Belgian Singles Chart[11] 43
French SNEP Singles Chart[12] 20
Irish Singles Chart[13] 20
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[14] 32
UK Singles Chart[15] 32

Accolades[edit source | editbeta]Edit

  • Ranked #90 in Kerrang!'s "100 Greatest Rock Tracks Ever" (1999).
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