Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” got the cinematic treatment in Marvel’s latest superhero backstory. Black Widow, scheduled for release July 9, stars Scarlett Johansson as the former Soviet killing machine Natasha Romanoff. The film also features the reimagined grunge track performed by the breakthrough artist Malia J.
The newest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment was postponed in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic after years of fans speculating its production. After an eventful year of Phase 4 releases and a special musical collaboration with KISS, the MCU is finally releasing the film with a dramatic, characteristically Marvel opening sequence.
Marvel’s soundtracks often feature notable musicians and artists. The three-season series Marvel’s Runaways featured songs from YUNGBLUD, Billie Eilish and Bleachers. James Gunn, who directed both volumes of Guardians Of The Galaxy and is set to helm the third, publicly shared the playlists that inspired him.
Black Widow comes as the first film installment of Marvel’s Phase 4, which includes a host of forthcoming cinematic titles. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings follows Black Widow Sept. 3, succeded by by the Nov. 5 release of Eternals, which will feature an all-new team of superheroes. The year will close out with a familiar face in Spider-Man: No Way Home in December, and will pick up again the following March with Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.
The reimagined track features layered vocals, reverb-drenched piano and subtle, ambient instrumentals. The chorus picks up with dramatic strings and intense, cinematic percussion while Malia J’s vocals give clarity to the original lyrics.
The use of reinvented covers in cinematic blockbusters is hardly a new phenomenon. Even Marvel’s 2020 film The New Mutants featured the chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2.” But Malia J is an essential part of this trend, having spent years bringing otherworldly covers to the world of cinema.
The Hawaiian artist recorded a cover of Bananarama‘s hit ’80s song “Cruel Summer” for Netflix’s documentary series Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer. She also provided soundtrack contributions for the Oscar-winning documentary The White Helmets and recorded songs for the CW series Riverdale. In 2018, she became the recipient of the Clio award for recording a stripped-down cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” for the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale.
The singer also intends to release her upcoming debut EP, Reflections, featuring original songs as well as covers.
“These songs were written over a long period of time,” Malia J explains on her website. “They come from many different phases in my life. Whether it was my first love or a heartbreak over someone I thought I would be with forever, or trying to find myself as a woman in this industry. When I listen to the music on this EP, it takes me back to those times and those relationships. These songs feel like I’m reflecting back on my life.”
The singer’s debut EP hasn’t received a release date. In the meantime, you can hear Malia J’s stripped-down Nirvana cover during the opening of Black Widow.
What do you think of Malia J’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? Let us know in the comments below!