Top 10 Covers of Nirvana Songs

Nirvana songs have been covered by a wide range of artists – from straightforward live versions by rock bands like Muse and Weezer to rearranged versions by Tori Amos and Kawehi. Here are some of the best covers of Nirvana songs.

Sinéad O'Connor: "All Apologies"

Kurt & Frances Bean Cobain, Courtney Love, & Sinéad O'Connor
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On October 15th, 1995, a year and a half after Cobain's death, Sinéad O'Connor performed an emotional, tearful version of Nirvana's "All Apologies" accompanied only by acoustic guitar on Dutch television. O'Connor sings a subdued version of the classic song. In a 2014 interview with Cuepoint, O'Connor said, "In the case of Kurt Cobain, he represented a massive amount of people who were really kind of invisible and unheard, who had a lot of pain, a lot of stuff that needed to be heard." Watch O'Connor's live performance here

Muse: "Lithium"

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Muse was formed in 1994, the same year that Kurt Cobain died. On the 20th anniversary of Cobain's passing Muse covered Nirvana's song "Lithium" live at Lollapolloza Brazil 2014. Singer/guitarist Matthew Bellamy introduced the song saying, "Someone great died 20 years ago today. This next song's for Kurt Cobain." Watch Muse's live performance here.

Tori Amos: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Tori Amos
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Tori Amos' emotional acoustic piano and vocal version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" casts the song in a completely different light. Amos' studio version of "Teen Spirit" was released in 1992 and Cobain told MTV he was "flattered" by it. Cobain told MTV of waking up to the song at home, "We used to put it on every morning and have breakfast and dance around. We'd turn it up really loud and do interpretive dancing to it. It's good breakfast music." Watch Tori Amos perform "Teen Spirit" live here

Seether: "You Know You're Right"

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Seether is a post-grunge band that is heavily influenced by Nirvana and have covered many of their songs live. At their May 30th, 2004 Rock In Rio performance Seether performed a faithfful cover of "You Know You're Right" – paying tribute to one of their favorite bands at the same festival where Nirvana gave a legendary performance 11 years earlier in 1993. Watch Seether's live version of "You Know You're Right" here.

Kawehi: "Heart-Shaped Box"

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In 2014, singer/multi-instrumentalist Kawehi made a video cover of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" that took the Internet by storm. In the video, Kawahi deftly constructs loops to create a multi-layered, experimental version of the Nirvana classic which she makes uniquely her own. On March 19, 2014, Cobain's widow Courtney Love tweeted praise for Kawehi's video saying "This is genius." Watch Kawehi's experimental version of "Heart-Shaped Box" here.

Joan Jett and Nirvana: "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

Joan Jett
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During the surviving Nirvana members reunion at their 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, they opened their four-song set with a strong version of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with Joan Jett capably filling in for Kurt Cobain. Watch Joan Jett play "Teen Spirit" with Nirvana here.

Weezer: "Sliver"

Weezer's Rivers Cuomo
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Weezer and singer/guitarist Rivers Cuomo were directly inspired by Nirvana. Their 2008 song "Heart Songs" includes lyrics about discovering Nirvana's Nevermind album, "Back in 1991, I wasn't havin' any fun / 'Til my roommate said, "Come on and put a brand new record on" / Had a baby on it, he was naked on it / Then I heard the chords that broke the chains I had upon me." That recorded bridge section of "Heart Songs" is used as the intro for Weezer's live 2008 cover of Nirvana's song "Sliver" here.

St. Vincent and Nirvana: "Lithium"

St. Vincent and Dave Grohl
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When Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 the surviving Nirvana band members decided to perform with all female singers in Cobain's place. One of the best performances was St. Vincent aka Annie Clarke singing "Lithium" with Nirvana members.

Evanescence: "Heart-Shaped Box"

Amy Lee of Evanescence
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Evanescence recorded a live acoustic version of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" as a B-side to their 2003 single "Going Under." The song showcases singer Amy Lee's passionate vocals. Listen to the Evanescence's cover of "Heart-Shaped Box" here.

Tricky: "Something In The Way"

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Tricky's experimental 2001 trip-hop version of Nirvana's "Something In The Way" bears little resemblance to the original besides sharing the same lyrics. Cobain had very eclectic musical tastes and probably would have enjoyed the cover. Nirvana's first single, a cover of Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz," had little in common with the original version of the song. Watch a fan-made video for Tricky's version of "Something In The Way" here