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The Nirvana mega-hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was an anthem for a generation of music lovers drawn to Seattle’s grunge-fueled sound of the 1990s. Now the song is being called the most iconic ever by one computer scientist.

The single from the band’s album “Nevermind” made its radio debut on Aug. 27, 1991. Twenty-eight years later, it still eclipses 49 other popular hits according to analysis by Dr. Mick Grierson.

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” appears on the album “Nevermind.”

The Daily Mail reported that Grierson examined songs featured in “all-time best” lists from popular music publications such as Rolling Stone, NME and Q. He used analytical software to determine what makes the songs noteworthy, including key, the number of beats per minute, chord variety, lyrical content, timbral variety and sonic variance.

“Teen Spirit” best exploited this musical “cocktail.”

The top five was rounded out by John Lennon’s “Imagine,” U2’s “One,” Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“Ultimately there is no ‘formula’ for this, other than to make your song sound as different, diverse and exciting as possible,” Grierson told The Daily Mail. “Even by applying scientific process, what is considered iconic is ultimately up to the individual. My conclusion is that if you want a formula for creating great music, there is one: you just have to make something that sounds great.”

Grierson was commissioned by car maker Fiat, which hoped to identify a song to use to promote the FIAT 500. The Daily Mail reported that singer songwriter Ella Eyre was asked to remaster the song for a TV commercial launching the new model of the car.

Previously on GeekWire:

Major Bummer: Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ auto-tuned in wrong key is grunge blasphemy

30 years after his iconic photos captured the rise of grunge, photographer Charles Peterson turns his eye to Instagram

Nirvana not smiling after filing lawsuit against designer Marc Jacobs over ‘Bootleg Grunge’ shirt

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