Smells Like Teen Spirit was the song of choice for Black Widow(2021) opening credits in a cover version sung by Malia J. Here’s the probable reason it was chosen and why it fits well with the movie. (contain’s spoilers)
For as weird as it might seem to some people, the 90’s has already been history for the last twenty years and Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana was released on the begining of this history, 1991 to be precise. This single song topped all the music charts of the following year and remained relevant to this day being an anthem of adolescence and rebelliousness worldwide.
The 90’s is also the time when the begining of the movie is set wich leads us to think that Natasha grew up listening to Nirvana on the radio and maybe even by choice at home as she had a bit of a punk look at the time.
Inside The Story
All the thematics of the song are reinforced throughout the movie with Natasha and her “Family” not going along too well and the Red Room which, in Dreykov’s eyes, is the widows’ family being rebelled against by his “children”. Also Smells Like Teen Spirit is played while scenes of the rise, power and impact of the Red Room in the widows’ lives are being shown, which just reminds us of the absence of a normal life the victims of the organization would have had if it wasn’t for them. The cover by Malia J features dramatic percussion and adds whole new level of orchestration and sonoplasty if compared to the original .
The use of popular music in this context in movies is not that common and is usually poorly introduced but in this case Marvel probably chose this song because it is such a worldwide tune and all of its thematics are so well known that the concepts and memories of the past time we’ve heard it start to matter more that the actual words of the song and that’s one of the great beauties of music.