Trying to cover Nirvana is like trying to cover Radiohead. At best, it comes off as uninspired and tepid. At worst, it's a blatant cash-grab in an age when smiley-face t-shirts are sold in every mall in America, or a pathetic attempt to be "edgy." There's something about Nirvana that's impossible to replicate-- not that covers need necessarily replicate the song exactly, but hopefully they can capture some of the same energy or spirit that inspired the original. In this case, it's wiser to leave it alone. But unsurprisingly, many, many artists have made the attempt. Here's ten of the most-excruciating, least-pleasant-to-listen-to results.
Who's covering my band, you say?
[Author's note: Have you ever heard of a torture tape? It's a mixtape you make specifically to drive your friend crazy. Let's just say listening to all these songs was an experience I'll remember for months to come.]
10. Patti Smith
I actually enjoy this version until Smith begins reading her original poetry. At least she doesn't censor any of the lyrics. It's kind of the Johnny Cash "Hurt" of Nirvana covers.
9. Willie Nelson
Strangely, the acoustic versions of this song seem to fare better. The song was originally suggested to Nelson by Australian radio DJ Andrew Denton as part of his "Musical Challenge" series.
8. Tori Amos
Two words: Too gentle. (I'm not alone-- Cobain called it "a great breakfast cereal version.")
7. Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
This video has over a million views and ukuleles apparently can't play minor notes? Also, it should be a crime to play Nirvana in a tuxedo.
6. Weird Al
While technically "Smells Like Nirvana" is a parody, Weird Al still misses the point. And that pit hair is just egregious.
If you ever wondered what a Japanese beatboxing version would sound like, now's your chance. Supremely annoying.
4. Paul Anka
The look on Anka's face as he says "Nirvana" is the stuff of nightmares.
3. The Moog Cookbook
Simply put, synths and Nirvana do not a blissful combination make.
2. The Muppets
All the YouTube versions of this seem to have been removed, so please enjoy this weird Portuguese video embed. Come on, this is just awful. They take out nearly half the words, and as Idolator pointed out, hearing Fozzy sing "I know a dirty word" is nauseating. There's a reason Muppets shouldn't sing Nirvana, you guys.
1. Miley Cyrus
Yes, this was recently voted the worst cover song of all time by Rolling Stone. Enjoy.
Why do you think it's so hard to cover Nirvana? Got a version you think is actually good? Add your thoughts in the comments!