Best Covers of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit

Nirvana - Nevermind The Singles
By Source, Fair use,

Today we’re taking a look at some of the best covers of the classic Nirvana song Smells Like Teen Spirit. The song is from the 1991 Nirvana album Nevermind. The song was an unexpected Worldwide hit projecting the band into the mainstream & the album containing the song went on to sell over 30 million copies. As well as that, the sudden rise of Nirvana helped popularize alternative rock.

The song is destined to reach 1 billion views on Youtube sometime in 2020. If counting all uploads of the song across Youtube it surpassed a billion views a while back but for the main upload on the Nirvana channel it will be the 1st Nirvana song to get there. One of only a handful of songs on the platform to have achieved such numbers.

Amongst some of the musicians/acts who have covered it to date are The Used, Tori Amos, Blanks ’77, Meat Puppets, Melvins, Arcane Roots. Before we get to those, let’s remind ourselves what the original sounds like so you can better compare.

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Official Music Video)
The song came about as the result of a friend of Kurts writing “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit” on his wall. What she meant by that was Kurt smelt like the deodorant his girlfriend wore called Teen Spirit, although Kurt was unaware of the deodorants existence at the time it was said. Kurt played a Fender Mustang in the video.

Onto the covers..

1. The Used (2018)

The Used - Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana Cover) (BBC Radio 1 Maida Vale live session 2018)
The Used are an US rock band formed in Orem, Utah, in 2001. The band have released several studio albums & achieved gold and platinum sales. This cover was recorded at BBC Maida Vale Studios London & was released on a EP. This is about as straight up a cover as you can get with nothing particularly unique added but it is great to hear a recent fresh cover of Teen Spirit from a well known band.

2. Tori Amos (1992)

Tori Amos - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Tori Amos is known to do the odd cover song. Like her Fleetwood Mac Landslide cover. The video is a live version of the cover as it’s more interesting to look at than just a picture of an album. The cover can be found on her Little Earthquakes (Deluxe Edition) release which was remastered in 2015.

3. Blanks ’77 (2000)

Blanks '77 - Smells Like Teen Spirit
American punk rock band Blanks 77 were formed in 1990 & are still active today. This cover really ups the tempo & the energy of the song giving it a real punk aesthetic.

4. Meat Puppets (2011)

MEAT PUPPETS - Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana Cover from "NEWERMIND"
American rock band from Phoenix, Arizona who formed in January 1980. Finally paying homage to Nirvana for helping put them on the map. Kurt Cobain was a fan of the band & the Meat Puppets Kirkwood brothers served as guest musicians on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. The exposure brought the Meat Puppets to new commercial heights with their 1994 album Too High To Die going gold.

5. Melvins (2000)

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Another band who if it weren’t for the tidal wave of success stemming from Nirvana would likely never have got major record label interest. Kurt Cobain is actually listed as a producer for their 1993 album Houdini (Which is on many top 10 grunge album lists). So owing to the history it’s no surprise that we’d see a cover from them.

6. Arcane Roots (2011)

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Arcane Roots (Kerrang! Nevermind Forever)
Three-piece alternative rock band Arcane Roots were formed in the UK in 2006 & active till 2018. Musically one of the more ambitious attempts to do something interesting with the song.

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