At a concert in Sydney, Australia, Lana Del Rey paid tribute to Nirvana (or, at least, attempted to) by performing a cover of “Heart Shaped Box.” No stranger to harsh criticism for her live performances, Del Rey has found the reception to her rendition to be decidedly positive — Rolling Stone even declared that “Del Rey graced the verses with an airy delivery before daintily belting the mighty chorus.”
However, one person who seemingly is not a fan is Courtney Love, who tweeted to Del Rey, “You do know the song is about my Vagina right? ‘Throw down your umbilical noose so i can climb right back,’ umm… On top of which some of the lyrics about my vagina I contributed. So umm next time you sing it, think about my vagina will you?”
Unlike Nirvana mashups, which often yield unique reinterpretations of the songs you’ve heard too many times, covers frequently miss the mark. If you can stomach it, here are 10 Nirvana covers that should, at the very least, help you to forget about Courtney Love’s vagina.
Seether – “You Know You’re Right”
Vocalists of “post-grunge” bands (you know, groups of guys with long hair who co-opt Nirvana’s sound into banal, radio-friendly pop songs) seem to suffer from a common ailment. You see, these unfortunate men are unable to form their mouths into the shapes required to pronounce simple vowel sounds and phonemes. Instead, they can only produce nasally, rhotic noises, which is why the word “pain” sounds like “PAAAYYYOWWWHHHHRRNG.”
The Polyphonic Spree – “Lithium”
Is “completely fucking obnoxious” its own musical genre? Is The Polyphonic Spree a pioneer? This has all the makings of a great tune, but is ruined by Tim DeLaughter — who, despite being the man behind The Polyphonic Spree, is also what makes the band intolerable.
Bruthal 6 – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Nice face paint, assholes. Now be careful not to scuff the floor of that racquetball court or else the country club spa might ban you from filming your next music video there.
Limp Bizkit – “You Know You’re Right”
The most irritating aspect of this cover is knowing that it was probably sandwiched between songs with lyrics like, “I hope you know I pack a chainsaw, what!” and “Stick it up your yeah!”
Weezer – “Aneurysm”
One of my all-time favorite conspiracy theories states that Kurt Cobain and Rivers Cuomo are the same person. Kurt never killed himself, but instead changed his identity and taught himself to play guitar right-handed. Brilliant! And, unfortunately, not true. Here’s the proof.
DOA – “All Apologies”
Smells Like Bleach is a decent album of punk bands covering Nirvana. This is the compilation’s lowlight. Learn how to sing, Shithead.
Miley Cyrus – “Smells Teen Spirit”
There’s something hilariously wrong about hearing Disney’s Hannah Montana sing lyrics (at 2:38) about injecting heroin. Plus, her awkward flailing and hair-tossing are a wonderful sight to behold. It’s as if she were given a 10-minute primer on “rocking out” prior to the show so she’d know what to do when it came time to perform this song.
Placebo – “All Apologies”
You’ve made it this far in the list? Jesus, there are many better things you could be doing with your time. You’ve got work to do, and procrastinating isn’t going to help you get it done. If Miley Cyrus didn’t scare you away, maybe this horrendous Placebo cover will do it for you.
Sonic Youth – “Moist Vagina”
I could have easily included Breaking Benjamin’s cover of “Lithium” or Puddle of Mudd’s version of “Breed” here, but instead I’m posting a cover by one of my all-time favorite bands, Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth were friends with Nirvana and toured alongside them, and if any band has the right to cover them, it’s Sonic Youth. “Moist Vagina” appeared as a B-side on the “Sunday” single from 1998’s A Thousand Leaves. When I first learned they’d covered it, I was excited to hear their interpretation. I was disappointed then, and I’m still disappointed in it now. Kim Gordon absolutely wrecks this song.
Papa Roach – “Lithium”
You could probably argue that many of the covers on this list really aren’t that bad. Covers are meant to be unique interpretations, and it’s cool when a band takes a classic tune and makes it their own. Except for this one. Papa Roach’s performance of “Lithium” is the worst thing to have happened in the history of Earth. Ever.