Smells Like Nirvana

Album: Off The Deep End (1992)
Charted: 58 35
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  • This was a parody based on the popular hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by the Seattle Grunge band Nirvana (Al makes fun of how difficult it is to understand Nirvana's lyrics). The song, and the album, was something of a comeback for Al, who hadn't produced an album since the soundtrack of his 1989 film UHF, which was a box office flop.
  • Al got permission from Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain to do the parody while Cobain was doing an episode of Saturday Night Live. Cobain initially thought the song would be about food. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jesse - Mesa, AZ, for above 2
  • The video is a very close parody of Nirvana's, and got almost as much airplay. The same janitor used in Nirvana's video also makes an appearance in Weird Al's, donning a tutu and playing a tuba. Al dresses just as Cobain did, complete with wig. He plays a fake blowup guitar and makes fun of the hard-to-understand lyrics by gargling water and singing with marbles in his mouth. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alan - Iowa, IA
  • The album's cover shot of Al swimming after a donut directly parodies Nirvana's cover of a baby going after a dollar. Also, at the end of the CD, there is 10 minutes of silence after the last song, then a six-second blast of guitar feedback, fingernails scraping a chalkboard, and many other annoying sounds along with Al screaming at the top of his lungs. This bit is called "Bite Me," and also copies something Nirvana did very similar to this. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Steph - SoCal, CA
  • In the music video, the second verse is subtitled. As Al sings the words "Bargle nawdle zouss" they are followed with "???". >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Mac - Fairborn, OH
  • When Yankovic first heard Nirvana, he was very impressed but thought they wouldn't catch on. He was thrilled when "Teen Spirit" became a huge hit, since that made the group a parody target (you don't parody obscure songs). Al also loved the '90s Grunge sound.
  • To achieve the garbled delivery, Yankovic sang with cookies in his mouth.
  • When Lily Hirsch, author of the book Weird Al: Seriously, asked Yankovic how Cobain's 1994 suicide changed his perception of the song, he replied, "Certainly that song was very difficult to play in the month following Kurt Cobain's death because we were just about to go on tour or to continue a tour. I forget. But I was playing that song in the live show very soon after Kurt died. And in fact, we played it in Seattle a month after he killed himself."

    Deciding to keep the song in the repertoire so soon after Cobain's tragic death was a difficult decision for Yankovic, who also had to consider what his own fans wanted.

    "For a month or two following Kurt's passing, I would play the song but it started with a solemn dedication. And I kind of felt like I paid my respects, but at the same time I gave people the song they wanted to hear."

Comments: 46

  • Stukka63 from St.augustine, Fla.Damn, the secret unleashed.
    All janitors can jam on a tuba.
  • Shadow from Depression, VaNirvana is awesome. This song is okay too (it is actually a bit funny). But this song is no match for the original "Smells like Teen Spirit".
  • Tim from Union City, CaTo everyone who hates this song: LIGHTEN THE F**K UP. KURT COBAIN THOUGHT IT WAS HILARIOUS. In fact, he didn't even realize just how huge he had become until Weird Al asked him to parody it.
  • Karl from Ingatestone, United Kingdomas a Weird Al massive and a parody obsessive, is he coughing at the end of 'Smells Like Nirvana'
  • Brianna from Heber Springs, ArIts in bad taste, to say the least. Kurt Cobain was a tortured genius and now the man is DEAD. Has everybody forgotten that? Has everyone forgotten the pure bliss they felt when they first heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit"? Stand up people and say something about this. He really needs to appologize to the fans and family of Kurt. RIP Kurt...we LOVE you.
  • Crazyc63312 from Pittsburgh, PaI went to Weird Al's 7-7-10 concert, and he spat the water at the people in the first 2-3 rows, and the cup landed in the ROW INFRONT OF ME!!! BUT-I got his autograph about 1 & 1/2 hours later after the concert! ;D Great concert! THE NEW POLKA ROX!
  • Riley from Los Angeles, CaJoel from columbia SC ummm kurt said that he was flattered by it and he really liked it
  • Goombario from Jacksonville, Fl@allie

    Actually, the last verse of Smells Like Teen Spirit ends with "Oh well, Whatever, Nevermind". Weird Al was just copying the last word of that line because it went with thew song.
  • Tomas from Prague, Czech RepublicI've heard that Cobain said to Al that he can make a parody of Smells Like Nirvana, if it's not going to be about food.. Can someone confirm this?
  • Allie from Spring City, AlbaniaWeird Al says "nevermind" in the song and "smells like teen spirit" is on the album "nevermind". Ha! Bet no one noticed that before!
  • Joel from Columbia, ScI used to enjoy Al's stuff but when you make fun of the late and great Kurt Cobain that just tears it. Yeah, I know Kurt supposedly gave Al permission and all that bull spit but I will never listen to or buy that piece of sh-t Wierd Al's music again.
  • Billy from Nederland , TxThe funny Part of this song is that Weird Al doesn't smell like Nirvana, he sounds like them!
  • Billy from Nederland , TxThis song is drop-dead funny! I like "Smells like Teen Spirit", and this song. I can barely play guitar, so I fake this on my Epiphone Les Paul.
  • Angus from Monteal, QcI have the CD and it doesn't have any 10 minutes of silence. And I don't know how Steph knows that secret track at the end is called "bite me". I wish they'd get their stuff straight before they post it, or take "facts" out of their domain name.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesCount me as another who adores Nirvana, thinks the original song was an amazing splash of ice-cold spring water freeing our rock-starved spirits from corporate-manufactured sludge, and laughs myself sick over this parody.
  • Mark from Worcester, MiI'm sure some artists are proud to have Al parody their music J_Bryon, from Milladore/Monroe, WI, but please don't call them his "peers." The guy is funny and I like him but he makes his product on the back of other peoples creativity. He's just in it for some yucks so don't take him to seriously.
  • Garoud from Aricathe video is on you tube and check how many views does it have to at least understand what a gemius is Al, and how narrowminded SOME nirvana fans maybe (just read the comments)

    excellent song makes me laugh everytime
  • J_bryon from Milladore/monroe, WiI saw a special on Weird Al some time ago and many arrtists consider it an honor to have Weird Al want to do a parody of one of their songs. That's how much respect he has by his peers in the music industry!
  • Luke from Manchester, EnglandTanya, Rotterdam - It's not so much that you can't understand what Kurt's singing, it's more you can't understand what he's singing *about*... Kurt said himself that when he writes a song, he does one line then the 2nd line is a contradiction of the first so half the time you can't tell if he's being serious or joking in the songs.
  • Chaim from Sarina, Australiaif you pause the song clip on the the kid not moving in his seat you can read "This space for rent" on his head.
  • Joe from Chicago, Ari am a big nirvana fan, but i aman even bigger weird al fan and his songs are halerious, including this one, this isn't nearly his best song but one of his best, weird al is one of the funniest musicians of our time.
  • Sam from Portsmouth, VaI find it funny that the condition for Werid Al to parody this song is for it not be about food.
  • J, W, from Somewhere, MaI dont know if this is true, but I heard somewhere that Cobain originally wanted to play the guitar parts for Weird Al's cover
  • Kenna from Dallas, TxIts a simple fact that Nirvana kicks a$$ and wierd Al is funny as hell and al did have kurts permission so its all cool and now we can just laugh.
  • Nos from Fort Worth, TxI know kurt said it was ok,but that was in the past.It could have been funny then but now it not its sad. we will miss you KURT
  • Max from Austin, TxYou really don't need to analyze this song at all. It's basically a comical view of Nirvana, but anything that could make Kurt Cobain laugh like he said he did when he saw this video, can't be all that bad because Cobain was an extremely troubled individual, and he really needed a good laugh after all the stuff hed been through.
  • Marissa from Palmdale, CaI am a huge Nirvana fan, but this song is off the bat true and funny. Nirvana loved it and realized they had finally gotten somewhere when Weird Al decided to parody it. You can get this video off Weird Al's video collection. It's my favorite video on the DVD. This song is great, Weird Al, you rock!
  • Tanya from Rotterdam, NetherlandsI like parody's, but I don't really get this one. I mean: English (American) isn't even my own language, and I can perfectly understand what Cobain is singing. In fact: it's much clearer to me then many other songs (including Dutch ones). So... what's so unclear about it...?
  • Jason from Wairoa, New ZealandUmm, considering Nirvana themselves laughed their heads off when they heard it, and agreed to the theme of the song, AND considered it a REAL honour to have Weird Al parody their song and video, this is a GREAT version, and I poo on those who think otherwise. You can't be a Nirvana fan if you don't approve of their music taste... after all... their music IS their taste :P
  • Greg from Brantford, Canadawhy are all you guys bombing an artist who is doing what he does... I love nirvana and i love weird al. oh and cameron, i actually think its easier writing parodies then real songs... if weird al asks to parody a song of yours you have made it big time, it is like a meaning of fame. and weird al is also a certified genius, not any regular person can write parodys as great as Al does.
  • Cameron from Cairns, AustraliaWhat's with this "No Inspiration" crap? I write music and I can tell you, it is WAY harder to do a parody then to write a song from scratch. Weird Al does write his own music and he does do parodies, IT'S WHAT HE DOES. He always asks for permission to parody music, and he never writes a parody without permission, even though he legally can. Everyone should stop bad mouthing Weird Al, unless they can do better!
    PS. More Weird Al songs on this site please!!!
  • Ross from Atlanta, Gaweird al graduated high school when he was 16 and has a degree in architecture
  • Chris from Highland, IlYeah,he DEFINITLEY doesn't have an ounce of originality in him.I mean,songs like "Horrorscope for today","I Remember Larry", and "Everything you Know is Wrong" are totally unoriginal.

    people,just because he is best know for parodies doesn't mean that he only does parodies.He has plenty of originality.but then again,the people who think he just does parodies either only listen to the parodies or nothing of his at all.
  • Mark from Falls Church, VaNarf is completely missing the point - "Weird Al's" inspiration is that he does PARODIES of songs. This is very difficult to do. As Dr. Demento has observed, almost anyone can come up with a single funny line of satire but it takes real talent to do an entire composition, front to back.

    Twenty-four of Al's videos can be found on "The Ultimate Video Collection" - a DVD released by Volcano Entertainment III, LLC. Additional information can be found at

    Mark - Falls Church, Virginia
  • Matt from Millbrae, CaNIRVANA ROCKS! Weird Al did haved Kurt's blessing, so I'm cool with this song. Plus it is kinda funny. I've actually never seen the video. Anyone know where to find it?
  • Gabriel Maclean from Toronto, CanadaOkay, Weird Al ASKED for permission in the first place, so Kurt obviusly wanted him to do it, and if Weird Al does a parody of your song, you know its gotta be an amazing song
  • Randall from Dallas, TxOk, plain and simple... if you're in a band, you know you've made it big if Al asks to parody your song, or put it into one of his polkas.
  • Amelia from High Point, NcI agree with Chuck, we need more Weird Al on SongFacts. He's my hero!
  • Mike from Guelph, AlI am a fan of both Nirvana and Weird Al. If you think "Smells Like Nirvana" is an insult, you have to realize that Kurt Cobain really liked it. He said he felt like Nirvana had really made it when Weird Al parodied their song. Any Nirvana fan who knows that, I can't see why they would complain.
  • Kim from Hartford, WiThe fact that Weird Al felt that the song was good enough to parody is a compliment in itself....usually, good parodies really compliment the original...Al obviously felt that this song was good enough to do a successfuly parody of...don't take it offensively! I LOVE Nirvana and I LOVE this song!
    Kim, WI
  • Pool Shark from Bucharest, Romaniawell the song is just genius. i mean the lyrics are great. i like nirvana and i can understand what kurt says, i think this song is a big joke and doesnt really parody just nirvana, but other rock bands as well.the video's well done too, i especially liked the cheerleader with the hormon problem...:)
  • T.r. from South Bend, In"Too bad weird al had no inspiration left since he decided to parody other people's music..."

    Well, I guess he's had no inspiration from day one.
  • The Jorge from Hell, OtherIt's good to see someone else as compolsive as I am about the correct speling.

    (Compulsive and spelling were mispeled as a joke)
  • Chad from Henderson, TnAs a big Nirvana fan, I find this song hilarious.
  • Rocky from Dallas, TxI am also a big Nirvana fan. This song by Weird Al is one of the funniest things that he every did. If you listen to Al's lyrics you will see that they say what a lot of people were thinking. What I dont' understand is why anyone would find this song insulting...if Kurt Cobain could laugh at it was done and call it a 'funny song from a funny guy' then why can't fans just see it as it is...a parody.
  • Narf from Bucharest, Romania"Boy, this oughta bug your parents" is true...for a nirvana fan, this song is revolting and insulting, especially since i can understand what kobain says perfectly.except that,the song's pretty good.too bad weird al had no inspiration left since he decided to parody other people's music...
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