|Single by Nirvana|
|from the album In Utero|
|Released||6 December 1993|
|Format||CD, 7" single, 12" single, cassette|
|Recorded||February 1993 at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota|
|Nirvana singles chronology|
"Rape Me" is a song by American rock 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
"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. Nirvana first performed the song live that year, although Cobain had not yet written the bridge section, playing a guitar solo instead.
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 stopped playing "Rape Me" and started playing "Lithium".
Nirvana first recorded "Rape Me" during two-day demo sessions with producer Jack Endino in Seattle, Washington 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 Frances Bean Cobain in his lap when he recorded his vocals, and she can be heard crying on the demo.
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. The following day, Cobain completed his vocals for the album during a reported six-hour session. Kurt used his Fender Jaguar into a Twin Reverb Amp. The song was relabeled "Waif Me" on the packaging of the In Utero albums that were sold in Wal-Mart and Kmart stores, which found the actual title too controversial; the song itself remained unchanged, however. The song is listed by its proper title in the booklet.
Meaning, composition and lyrics
Kurt Cobain conceived "Rape Me" as an 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.'"
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. Cobain also stated in a 1993 interview that "Rape Me" was a song meant to be so blunt that no one could misinterpret its meaning.
Although no music video was ever made for "Rape Me", there are two treatments for a "Rape Me" video that appear in Kurt Cobain's journals. They included scenes set in a prison, footage of flowers and seahorses as well as a man being prepared for a gynecological exam.
In 1999, a live version of the song performed by Nirvana on Saturday Night Live in 1993, was aired as a music video on MTV2 for promotion of the album Saturday Night Live: The Musical Performances, Volume 2.
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 DVD, Saturday Night Live: 25 Years of Music, Volume 4. This version was aired as a music video on MTV2 in 1999.
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.
CD single and 12" vinyl
Cassette and 7" vinyl
UK promo single
US promo CD (includes lyrics)
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||43|
|European Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||77|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||32|
Cover versions & Parodies
Richard Cheese recorded a cover of this song on his album "Lounge Against the Machine" (A parody of the band "Rage Against the Machine") in 2000.
In The Simpsons episode That 90's Show, guest star Weird Al Yankovic sings a parody version called "Brain Freeze". Homer also creates a band called "Sadgasm", a parody of Nirvana, and is seen singing "Shave Me".
- Azerrad, p. 323.
- Gaar, p. 19
- Azerrad, p. 276–77.
- Gaar, p. 19–20.
- Gaar, p. 56.
- Gaar, p. 61.
- Schinder, Scott and Andy Schwartz. Icons of Rock Volume 2. Greenwood, 2007. 608.
- Steinke, Darcey. "Smashing Their Heads On That Punk Rock". Spin. October 1993.
- Azerrad, p. 322–23.
- Gaar, Gillian G. (2006). Nirvana's In Utero Bloomsbury Publishing USA. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
- Billboard magazine - October 3, 1999 - p. 94 - "The Clip List" section americanradiohistory.com. Retrieved June 21, 1999.
- "Ultratop.be – Nirvana – All Apologies / Rape Me" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- Music & Media magazine, January 15, 1994.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – All Apologies/Rape Me". Irish Singles Chart.
- "Nirvana: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
- Kerrang! magazine, issue 746, April 17, 1999. (voted by readers).
- Condee, William F (May 2013). "THEATERTREFFEN". Theatre Journal. Johns Hopkins University Press. 65 (2): 264–268.
- Sherwood, Miriam Rose. "What Is Hate Radio?". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- "Hate Radio". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
- Azerrad, Michael. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. Doubleday, 1994. ISBN 0-385-47199-8.
- Cross, Charles. Heavier Than Heaven. Hyperion, 2001. ISBN 0-7868-6505-9.
- Gaar, Gillian G. In Utero. Continuum, 2006. ISBN 0-8264-1776-0.
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