Are you ready for more cover song greatness? You aren’t? Well, that’s too bad, because it’s Monday and that means we’re rolling out the next song in the countdown whether you want to hear it or not! Welcome back to Evil Squirrel’s Nest’s Top 30 Cover Songs of All Time! Button up your worst flannel shirt, dig out those combat boots, and let’s take a peek at what selection Scratchy and the Sponks have got in store for us from the Redo Jukebox this week!
#27. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Paul Anka
As the most totally tubular of all decades was winding down in the late 80’s, the music and radio industry was on the verge of major change. The Top 40 pop format that had dominated the airwaves for the past three decades, and was inclusive of pretty much every genre of music that sprouted up during that time, was about to have the plug pulled on it by the trend towards stations having more specialized radio formats.
The rise of the Seattle sound in the early 90’s was the final nail in the coffin of radio as I had grown up to know it… and the song that launched the grunge movement in 1991 was undoubtedly Nirvana’s classic anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It’s consistently rated as one of the most iconic and historic songs that ever came out of a heroin needle. It is also extremely, extremely overrated…
I was extremely tickled when I began hearing cover versions of this high energy grunge hit that sounded absolutely nothing like what Kurt Cobain intended. Tori Amos’ interpretation was the first one I discovered, and I thought it couldn’t be topped for standing this overballyhooed Nirvana ditty on end. Boy was I wrong….
In September 2010, my baseball travels took me to Pittsburgh, where one of the songs that was played during batting practice at PNC Park caught my ear for its familiar lyrics… but oh so unfamiliar music! That was definitely Nirvana’s words, but most certainly not their style! it sounded so….. 1940’s!
I had to find out who did this ultra cool, retro retro version of the Nirvana classic… and lo and behold, it was none other than 60’s singing sensation Paul Anka!
Talk about standing the whole cover song idea on its head! Imagine, a musician old enough to be the father of the original artists showing up the youngsters!
In 2005, Anka released an album titled “Rock Swings,” where he and his big band covered a number of popular songs from the 80’s and 90’s in swing jazz style. Check out this list of tracks that got Ankaed…
- “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor
- “Jump” – Van Halen
- “Everybody Hurts” – REM
- “Wonderwall” – Oasis
- “Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden
- “It’s My Life” – Bon Jovi
- “It’s a Sin” – Pet Shop Boys
- “True” – Spandau Ballet
- “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
- “Hello” – Lionel Ritchie
- “Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol
- “Lovecats” – The Cure
- “The Way You Make Me Feel” – Michael Jackson (Apparently Bubbles the chimp has asked that this song not be put on YouTube for everyone to enjoy.. but I’m sure it’s totally awesome.)
- “Tears in Heaven” – Eric Clapton
I think I can promise you that this will be the only swing song to end up in the countdown. I doubt very seriously I’d even like it were it not for how hilarious it is to hear a song that was rebelling against the current sound get redone in a truly classic way. We’ll get back to covers that truly rock….. next Monday!
I wasn’t a fan of Nirvana (except the ice cream with the same name) but I like the version of Paul Anka… and this cd sounds really interesting, thanks for the idea, my dad loves swing.
I listened to a sample of each of the other songs on that album, and some of them are quite good (A few are just terrible adaptations). It’s hard to beat the contrast on this one between swing and grunge!
That is crazy! Although I kind of dig it in a cool cat kinda way. Kurt would be proud?
Hey, you never know… he just might be digging it wherever he is right now! He supposedly loved the Weird Al parody of the song, and not all artists were thrilled to get Weird Al’ed (see: Coolio)…
Right. Boy, I loved Nirvana back in the day. RIP Kurt. (Shoo bop shoo bop.)
Are you familiar with the works of the fabulous Mr. Richard Cheese? If not, you should add that bit of happiness to your life right away. His version of Down with the Sickness is absolutely magical. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at02Fvdhk2I
I’m off to check out all of that Anka deliciousness! 😀
Oh dear….. how have I never been introduced to Dic…. er, Richard Cheese before? I saw his take on “Closer” in the suggested video sidebar, and had to click on it immediately. I about fucking died!!!! I will definitely be checking out more from his selection of covers!!! Thank you!!!!
Wheee! I’m so glad you like him! “Closer” is a pretty spectacular one. “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Rape Me” are some other examples of his finer work. 😀
I like the cover the did in the recent Muppet Movie reboot. 🙂
Funny, because Animal reminds me a bit of Kurt….
Is there anyone who hasn’t covered this song? If not, what’s wrong with them?
Um, wow… For the love of Christ, do NOT listen to the Tears in Heaven cover! (Christ makes a cameo, btw)
I only listened to the first few seconds of it when I grabbed the video link, so I’ll take your advice…
It was awful, just awful.
Oh, that’s actually good, you just can’t help but get the old hips swinging. I’ve demolished three buildings in the space of three minutes lol
LOL, I’m saying nothing!
That’s kind of cool, in a jazzy sort of way. 😉 I love big band era music, what can I say? I was born in the wrong era.
You never know, it just may make a comeback! I can totally see Kanye and his Hip Hop Orchestra doing a swing album…. 😉
LOL only if it gets him more exposure. He does know how to get his name mentioned 😉
All the through the post, I was wondering if you selected this because you really liked it or because of the dorktastity of it all. That got answered in the closing, didn’t it?
I was going to bitch because before I read it, I thought you were going to be talking about Tori, but that’s okay. I’m sure we’ll be seeing her before the end of this thing (I’m guessing #1…..).
Well, we shall see. I’m giving away nothing, but a lot of the songs you’d probably think I’m gonna have here surprisingly didn’t make the list at all. I’ll make sure to include plenty of music from fruity English club bands, though….
I thought I was good at remembering things, but you’re downright frightening….
I remember turning that phrase but can’t for the life of me remember who/m I was talking about at the time. Well, I guess I’ll find out before the end of fall….
Some things just stick in my head forever due to their awesomeness… like your intercrural history lesson that you didn’t even remember telling me before I whipped it out of the blue…
Dare I admit that I think Paul Anka was a pretty talented guy? The only one of the “kid singers” around in the early 60s who survived and became an actual musician. Just saying.
So how many ballparks have you visited? Does it count that Garry and I remember Ebbets Field? We did get to see a Sox-Yankees game at the NEW Yankee Stadium the year it opened — and the Sox beat their asses. A great fan moment.
I just counted on my fingers. Been to 6 major league ballparks plus Cooperstown.
Let’s see… Busch (both recent incarnations), Old Comiskey, Coors, Turner, Kauffman, Wrigley, Great American, Miller, Jacobs, PNC, Target, Comerica, and whatever they’re calling the Rangers ballpark these days. That’s 14 ballparks representing 12 teams. I quit taking my annual trips last year because I ran out of stadiums within a 700 mile driving radius, and I’m not motivated enough to complete the list to fly anywhere… at least not yet. Plus, saving money.,,,
Courtney wants the next swing dance with Paul, right, Bill? This is a great find. Awesome. I think the Jimmy Sturr Orchestra needs to play it polka style on its next album!
OK, Marilyn has made me count: I have to my credit: Shea Stadium, CitiField, the old Yankee Stadium, the new Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Olympic Stadium in Montreal (RIP Expos), Skydome in Toronto, Jacobs Field in Cleveland and The Vet in Philly. Nine majors. I need to get my Syracuse Chiefs’ parents, the Nationals’ park in, for No. 10.
I just put up my list while you were making this comment. I’ve pretty much hit everywhere you can go in the Midwest…
I’ll bet I’d like the polka version of Teen Spirit better than the original… they need to break out the accordion!
OMG!!! I wouldn’t have believed it if you hadn’t posted it. Am I brave enough to check out “eye of the tiger?” YOLO! 😀
I was actually disappointed with his take on Eye of the Tiger… there was very little middle ground in my opinion on Anka’s covers. I don’t think Paul would have inspired Rocky very much with his version…
HaHaHa! Rocky on the steps with that? Nah!!!
What a super post! Hey, World War II made folks wanna get angsty! – cracked me up. I had no idea this Anka album existed, and the tunes, let’s just say I have to take a listen. My thoughts about covers is that I generally respect them if they’re not embarrassing attempts at re-recording the original – by that standard this one gets big respects. And the juxtaposition of the music with the lyrics is instant classic.
Thanks so much for posting this – your commentary was superb.
You’re welcome! I don’t think one of my music posts has ever gotten such a glowing comment before! 🙂
I really likes surprises, smarts, and a good chuckle – this post had it all. I mean it, man. 😀
This is just wrong…just really really wrong. Paul – don’t do this again – EVER.
LOL! Did you check out the Richard Cheese link Nerdy provided above? If you thought swinging to grunge was wrong, you should check out when it gets the lounge singer treatment! I highly recommend “Closer”…. 😉
One more thought from me if you don’t mind. The best cover ever, in my humble opinion is Johnny Cash singing “I hurt myself.” It will give you chills. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt1Pwfnh5pc
They used to play that video on VH1 Classic back when it first came out. I was unfamiliar with the NiN original at the time, but I do agree…. while it isn’t my cup of tea, it is a very powerful song….
Apparently someone’s done a cover of the song “firestarter” (can’t remember the band) in the style of Noel Coward. That seems to fit the same idea as this, and it’s apparently hilarious. (I keep on meaning to look it up but haven’t yet got around to doing so.)