If a song has reached a certain level of popularity, wacky cover versions will invariably appear on the internet. Frozen’s “Let It Go” has gotten the Klingon treatment; The Knack’s “My Sharona” recently spawned a “My Corona” parody; and everyone from Katy Perry to Depeche Mode has re-recorded a hit in Simlish.
Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is no different. The ’90s grunge anthem has been reimagined in virtually every genre you can think of (and some you might never have come up with). Thanks to YouTuber the_miracle_aligner and some savvy collaborators, we even know what the song may have been like if “Kurtus Cobaenus” had lived in ancient Rome.
Since ancient Romans obviously didn’t have recording equipment—and not many instruments have been unearthed, either—historians have mostly relied on depictions of instruments and performances in ancient artworks to inform their understanding of Roman music. In other words, we’ll never know for sure what it truly sounded like, and the cover below is a personal interpretation by YouTuber stantough, who contributed the instrumentals.
But it’s not just the electric guitar that makes “Smells Like Teen Spirit” inherently anachronistic—so do some of the lyrics. In this Latin translation, “Load up on guns” becomes “Prepare the spears” (“Pará pílís”); and instead of “mosquito,” we get “culex,” meaning “gnat.” “Here we are now, entertain us,” on the other hand, does seem like something high-society Romans would exclaim upon arriving at a lavish party.
You can listen to the song below, and check out the_miracle_aligner’s other creative compositions here.