Generally, the streaming landscape is dominated by newer music, but there are some older songs that have found success with the format, too. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” for example, is the 25th most-streamed song in Spotify history with about 1.5 billion plays. Last year, Oasis’ “Wonderwall” became the first ’90s song to eclipse a billion streams on the platform. Now, that club has a new member, as Nirvana’s classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” just topped a billion Spotify plays. To be exact, the song — which was released a single nearly 30 years ago, on September 10, 1991 — has 1,001,403,604 streams as of this post.
As NME notes, there are over 150 songs that have at least a billion plays on Spotify. Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” is the biggest streamer in the platform’s history, with about 2.8 billion plays. It has a big lead over the next song, The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” which has around 2.3 billion. The most recently released song in the top 100 is DaBaby and Roddy Ricch’s “Rockstar,” which has about 1.2 billion streams and is the only song from 2020 in the top 100.
Nirvana’s Dave Grohl recently spoke about how he didn’t believe that Nevermind, the parent album of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” would be a big success, saying, ““[Friends would say,] ‘Oh my God. You guys are going to be f*cking huge! We would go, ‘What? What are you talking about?’ Donita [Sparks] from L7 came by and said we were going to be f*cking huge. My old friend Barrett Jones — who I had grown up with in Virginia, who was a musician and a producer himself — heard ‘Lithium’ and said we were going to be f*cking huge. He thought ‘Lithium’ should be the first single. Everyone had these lofty opinions and I thought, ‘Well, it’s nice of you to say so, but there is no f*cking way that is ever going to happen.”
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.