By far the worst thing about the internet killing music TV is that we no longer get the chance to watch rock bands taking the piss on Top Of The Pops. A brilliant lie, the show insisted on acts singing live vocals over a backing track, which is like a red rag of mischief to the rock subversive. Witness Noel singing ‘Roll With It’ front of stage while Liam has a go at miming the guitar solo, Travis stopping playing ‘Sing’ for the last 30 seconds to have a monumentally messy custard pie fight, or The Wedding Present, on their umpteenth appearance in 1992, stopping ‘Flying Saucer’ to revolve slowly on the spot in radiation suits.
The notorious Word-trashing Nirvana, of course, were never going to play along, resulting in your gran going “this was voted NME’s best song ever? It’s just a load of noise!” during TOTP2 forever. To mark the chart success of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Kurt, Krist and Dave put on a performance to make Dom Joly proud, 26 years ago this week.
Pretending to strum his guitar like a robot and making no attempt to go anywhere near an actual chord – presumably a statement about being asked to perform like a mechanical puppet – Kurt launches into his vocal in deep, theatrical baritone, an homage to Morrissey that comes across more like Jim Morrison on mogadon. Meanwhile Krist Novoselic flails his bass around his head like he’s wrestling a live wolf and Dave Grohl’s ‘drumming’ is more like an interpretive dance to represent ‘goofy imp’. Oh, and heaven knows what the TOTP censors thought of Kurt changing the opening lyrics to “load up on drugs, kill your friends” before trying to eat the microphone. Check it out…