The world of pop music is getting new life breathed into it with actor Max Minghella’s directorial debut, Teen Spirit, which stars Elle Fanning and Rebecca Hall and is in theaters this weekend. The film follows Violet, a British teen living in a small town who seems almost resigned to a mostly ordinary life. But when the chance to audition for reality singing competition show Teen Spirit arises, Violet grabs onto it. Following a successful audition, it becomes clear the Violet has what it takes to not only win the competition but actually have a true blue career as a pop star once the show wraps.
Seeing as Teen Spirit is a movie set in the world of singing competition shows reminiscent of The X Factor, American Idol, or The Voice, it makes sense that the soundtrack to the film would mirror what actually happens on these shows: performers covering popular songs, deep cuts, and everything in between. This is Fanning’s first film where she is tested as a singer and, since she’s the film’s star, she shoulders most of the singing duties for the film and soundtrack. Luckily, Fanning not only has the chops, but she absolutely rises to the occasion and gives many radio-friendly hits new life through her performance of them.
The Teen Spirit soundtrack features some familiar, non-covers, including Grimes’ “Genesis” and No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” but it is also filled to the brim with covers, like Ellie Goulding’s “Lights” and Robyn’s “Genesis.” So, before you go see Fanning bring Violet’s story to life on the big screen, let’s take a look — and listen — at the pop songs that are performed as covers in Teen Spirit and featured on the film’s soundtrack.
‘I Was a Fool’ – Originally Performed By: Tegan & Sara
Originally performed by Tegan & Sara, Fanning takes on ‘I Was a Fool’ as a minimalist ballad with mostly a piano backing her. Fanning’s rendition evokes contemporary pop songstresses like Jessie J or Ella Mai, both in the tenderness and earnestness of her performance of the song.
‘E.T’ – Originally Performed By: Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s “E.T.” gets a mostly instrumental makeover here, with Fanning lending some vocals to the rendition. While the DNA of “E.T.” is present, the song gets even more cosmic and atmospheric, making for a nice listening break if you happen to be listening to the soundtrack from start to finish.
‘Dancing on My Own’ – Originally Performed By: Robyn
In the film, Fanning’s Violet performs Robyn’s ‘Dancing on My Own’ as her audition song for singing competition show Teen Spirit. We get to hear the roots of Fanning’s power as a singer as she breathes new life into it as she performs it with the desire of someone ready to break away from their average life and do something they love.
‘Lights’ – Originally Performed By: Ellie Goulding
This cover of Ellie Goulding’s breakout hit ‘Lights’ can be heard in the trailers for Teen Spirit and serves as an indicator of just how damn good Fanning is as a singer. The cover hews pretty closely to the original, but who cares? It’s still so, so listenable.
‘Little Bird – Originally Performed By: Annie Lennox
Originally performed by Annie Lennox, Fanning does excellent work of evoking Lennox’s powerful voice while infusing her own soulfulness into this cover.
‘Good Time’ – Originally Performed By: Owl City
A fairly standard take on the Owl City hit from 2012, “Good Time” comes in to deliver some populist thrills that don’t dare deviate too far from the original but nonetheless get you pepped up as you listen.
‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ – Originally Performed By: Sigrid
Originally performed by Sigrid, Fanning breathes moody new life into ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe.’ The song trades Sigrid’s auto-tuned vocals for a piano, letting this song transform into a tender ballad that conveys Violet’s desire to choose her own path.
‘Halcyon Teen Spirit’ – Originally Performed By: Orbital
Fanning adds some vocals to Orbital’s “Halcyon Teen Spirit.” The song is reminiscent of late ‘90s dance and Europop hits, which makes it a perfect fit for the technicolor world of the singing competition show on which Violet finds herself competing.
‘Wildflowers’ – Written For The Movie By: Carly Rae Jepsen
An original song for the movie written by pop powerhouse Carly Rae Jepsen, ‘Wildflowers’ is a sunny, hopeful song performed in the movie by Fanning. Listening to this song is like a shot of dopamine right into your spirit, making it the perfect way to end listening to this film’s soundtrack.
And now for songs and covers performed by others in the movie…
‘Teenage Kicks’ – Performed By: The Shades
Performed in Teen Spirit by UK band The Shades, this bright, ‘60s pop throwback of a song recalls early Beatles and mixes up the pace of the soundtrack to surprising (but fun) results.
‘Tattooed Heart’ – Originally Performed By: Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande fans will recognize ‘Tattooed Heart’ from her early years as a singer. But, in Teen Spirit, the song is performed by actor Clara Rugaard, who plays Roxy, one of the other competition contestants.
Get your tickets for Teen Spirit here and watch it in theaters now!