Last night’s Late Show was probably a repeat; Gladiator was on the couch, not talking about “Cinderella Man” but some trouble he’d gotten into. I’m sure I missed most of it, but apparently he hit somebody? at a hotel? and went to jail.
But Paul Anka was on to promote a new disc, Rock Swings, and he’s been singing for five decades. Nobody told him about The Bad Plus; he covered “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with his big band in a fast lounge style, playing up the “My libido…” line and linking it to the “Hello, hello…” parts by his stage moves. Your opinion how successful he was (or was not) at making the song sexy is probably proportional to your age.
I know most of us kids-to-30-somethings still get into “Teen Spirit,” but hearing the original track makes me a little sick. Watching Anka perform, I realized that Kurt’s suicide really shouldn’t have been a surprise. He saw what the world was doing with his music (on which hung serious ideological weight), co-opting Nirvana’s operating ethos for the sake of greed. And it hasn’t stopped. Why else would Paul Anka be covering it? Don’t tell me it spoke to him on a deep level, and he had to pay tribute. More like get paid, in order to cover the bill from his plastic surgeon.
Nevermind was a good album, and it has had some impact on the course of pop/indie music, but I can’t listen to it. Breaks my heart, like Orwell’s 1984. To be confronted with such idealism and striving, corrupted and turned towards profit/power, is unbearable. If anyone did that to signs, I would be broken.
All this is not Paul Anka’s fault. He’s just a face to put on a larger trouble.