It’s not that Casey’s version of the song was bad technically — it was faithful to the original, and though judge Jennifer Lopez correctly pointed out that he got a little “screamy-screechy” in spots, his vocals were otherwise fine.
But “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” along with any number of other Nirvana songs, is not really about whether the vocal sounds pure and on-pitch. It’s about taking all the disaffection, boredom, anger and all those other lovely early-’90s, Gen-X emotions and letting them out in one big, cathartic wail (backed by a great hook). And based on what we’ve seen of him so far, Casey just doesn’t seem that disaffected, bored or angry, so we didn’t really buy the attitude he was trying to push. It was a competent cover but not much else.
Video of Casey’s version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is below. What did you think of the performance?