SZA has been on a roll with her live covers in 2019, and two of the finest have been tributes to the music of the late ’90s and early 2000s. In May, she covered Sixpence None The Richer’s 1998 classic “Kiss Me,” and this weekend at Australia’s Splendour In The Grass festival, she busted out another cover from the same era.
Fan-shot videos show SZA performing Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag,” an alternative hit that was released as a single in 2000. Perhaps not coincidentally, the song was most popular in Australia, where it topped the charts and was the second best-selling single of the year. Fans in attendance were appreciative of the cover, and they sang along loudly when it came time for the classic chorus.
Wheatus leader and “Teenage Dirtbag” songwriter Brendan B. Brown said of the track earlier this year, “I’d had the riff in my head since college. I wrote ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ lying on a futon staring at the ceiling in a rented apartment on Long Island, New York. The song is fictional, but has a bit of scenery from my childhood. […] I wanted ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ to sound like Metallica, AC/DC, Paul Simon and James Taylor from the waist up. And then, from the waist down, LL Cool J and Public Enemy. Like, hip-hop feet with rock’n’roll hands. As a production concept, that’s difficult. But every time it comes on the radio, I’m proud. It’s this weaponized piece of pop culture. When we play it, if the room is full, the crowd sing so loud we can’t hear ourselves.”
Watch clips of SZA covering “Teenage Dirtbag” above, and revisit Wheatus’ original version below.