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Song You Need to Know: Bully Covers Nirvana’s ‘About a Girl’

Bully covering Nirvana is almost too obvious, but, good God, is it glorious

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Bully and its frontwoman, Alicia Bognanno, have been getting Kurt Cobain comparisons since their 2015 debut, Feels Like. (It doesn’t hurt that she studied at the feet of Nirvana producer Steve Albini.) So hearing the Nashville band cover Nirvana is almost too obvious — but, good God, is it glorious.

Their spin on 1989’s “About a Girl” strikes a perfect balance of raw and melodic, without ever sounding like the output of a cover band. Bognanno’s home-recorded production and instrumentation definitely capture the original’s energy: The guitars come in grunge-heavy before her voice slumps onto the scene, voice tearing on the high notes.

Still, it’s not just a skilled copy of a classic. She mixes in some experimental guitar squeals on the instrumental and a truly trippy solo that keeps the sound from going thoroughly Nineties. Plus, Bognanno differentiates herself from your average karaoke crooner with her stellar delivery. When she wails, “I’ll take advantage while/You hang me out to dry/But I can’t see you every night/Free” you almost forget that she was a kid when Cobain ripped through the track in 1993 for MTV’s Unplugged.

“I do” becomes a chanted mantra at the end of the song, before it ends abruptly, futuristic time-warp complete.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.