BUEL – Single Review: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

BUEL is a bewitching, smoky-voiced singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, who’s released a number of marvelous singles over the past four years or so. Her recent single “Lemon Smile”, released last October, is a gentle but powerful take-down of phony, duplicitous people, with a mesmerizing, sophisticated synth-pop melody that, to my ears at least, calls to mind some of Madonna’s early songs (not in terms of vocals, but rather in their style and feel). The YouTube video for the song has been streamed over half a million times. Now BUEL returns with a surprising new single – a thoroughly captivating reimagining of the Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit“. The song was recorded at Wakeful Studios in Los Angeles, and produced by Burak Yerebakan (who plays guitar for L.A. band Yard of Blondes), who also played the theremin, an electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact.

It’s an audacious undertaking to try and cover such an iconic and beloved classic, but she and Yerebakan pull it off with finesse. The song opens with otherworldly, siren-like sounds produced by the theremin, creating a decidedly portentous vibe. Then BUEL’S languid vocals enter along with a deep synth bass-driven trip hop beat, followed by delicate fluttering keyboards and accompanied by an enchanting mix of glittery synths, chiming guitar notes and the spacey warbling of the theremin. Her sultry vocals are gorgeous, with a haunting vulnerability that results in a completely different, but equally compelling, interpretation of Cobain’s provocative and sometimes impenetrable lyrics. Their treatment of the song is more melodic and dreamy, yet still manages to capture the dark rebelliousness of the Nirvana original.

The fascinating video was conceived and directed by BUEL, and shows her and Yerebakan performing the song in what appears to be a vacant derelict meeting hall of some kind, interspersed with scenes of an alien (also played by BUEL) and another shadowy man trying to solve a Rubik’s cube type of puzzle, but ultimately giving up. Watch and listen:

Here’s the original 4:18-minute long version of the song:

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13 thoughts on “BUEL – Single Review: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

  1. davidt62

    I don’t understand why artists take a classic tune and break it down into something utterly unrecognisable. if you’re gonna do this, just write your own song in that style.


  2. Pingback: BUEL – Single Review: “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – P.Q.E.

  3. H.G.O

    I really loved her vocals!! I’m not convinced yet I liked the arrangements (I’ll have to listen to it a few more times) but I applaud the fact that they tried to make it their own. Also, super crazy video 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  4. badfinger20 (Max)

    Like other comments, I do love her vocals…I do understand changing the song because if you don’t… what’s the point? I agree with you fully there. I’ll give her an A on originality but the music is too electronic for me…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        I do like a little…if everything is mixed in… but that is just me. You have had some with electronic in it but mixed with guitars, bass, and drums and I’ve liked it… it can color it nicely.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: BUEL – Single Review: “Small Talk” – ECLECTIC MUSIC LOVER

  6. She is a beauty. Her voice reminds me of Lorde in a way. It’s an interesting take. I prefer the original but…I like hearing new stuff just to see what might tickle my fancy. The silliness of the video also reminds me of I Ran So Far Away. It feels, to me anyway, that electronic music is the child or grandchild of the New Wave movement of the 80s.

    Liked by 1 person

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