There are some songs that you're not supposed to cover. Songs that are iconic, that defined a generation, usually fall into this category.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana is the textbook example of a song you aren't supposed to cover.
Not like that stops anyone. Like Miley Cyrus. Sure, she does an admirable and faithful cover of the song.... but she's Miley Cyrus, not Kurt Cobain. She kind of pulls it off.... but not really.
Perhaps I am not ever more annoyed than when someone mistakes Nirvana's song for cheesy rap metal. Here is my message to Fred Durst: You did a good job with "Faith." Stay the hell away from this song.
I'm not really a fan of the Paul Anka lounge version either. I think he was going for homage, but it seems more like parody to me. YOU DON'T PARODY AN ICON!
The rare exception is when an artist can take such an iconic song and make it their own while still highlighting the lyrical strength of the songwriter. Such is the power of the Tori Amos version of this song, which takes the power way down, translating the song to piano. However, her voice, while nothing like the wail of Kurt Cobain, puts a beautiful focus on the lyrics as written. I bet you didn't all know all the lyrics until you heard this version!
Tori Amos's cover was so good, IT gets covered! Here is the unique Yael Naim covering Tori's version, but still making it somewhat her own. Frankly, it starts off like Tori, but ends a little closer to Nirvana. And I have to admit - it's pretty good. Even if she can't pronounced "albino" correctly.
That leaves us with Patti Smith. Ah, the great Patti Smith. I don't know what to think of this version. She enunciates too much - "dan-ger-ous". She turns the song into a slow and angry song, almost lazy. And it still kind of works.