Shalom Life | July 06, 2015

WATCH: Nirvana Goes Middle Eastern

Israeli vocalist covers the iconic band’s "Lithium," with a very Mediterranean vibe

By: Maria Cruz

Published: July 3rd, 2015 in Culture » Music » News

Photo: Shefita in "Lithium"


Artist Shefita, the Oriental alter ego of Israeli vocalist Rotem Shefy, is back with another cover of a popular song. This time she’s decided to take on Nirvana’s classic, “Lithium”.

Shefita has already tackled several songs, most notably “Karma Police” by Radiohead two years ago, which has received over 1,000,000 views on YouTube to date. The video consisted of her riding in a horse-drawn carriage with three musicians in the back. Her rendition is complete with a great musical interlude and a small group of onlookers that joined her throughout the video to sing along with her at the end.

This cover, however, received less of a reception, under attack from those in the dreaded YouTube comments section, with people calling her accent fake and accusing her and her music of being the “Mediterranean version of blackface”. She was defended in an article by Tablet Magazine who wrote, “What Shefy has created is one of the more mature examples of Israeli music in years, a work that is simultaneously particular and universal in refusing to choose between Radiohead and the oud, between dreams of London and days in Tel Aviv.”

Shefita's cover kicks off with her sitting by an indoor poolside as a butler fans her. Drink in hand, she turns to her water pipe and begins slowly popping the pills that sit on top of it. A band of four musicians, dressed all in white, then begin to play a collection of instruments behind her. The video wraps up with Shefita walking towards a makeshift Kurt Cobain shrine and lighting it on fire.

Commenter, JoeEvil, said the cover was horrifying and that some songs shouldn’t be covered. Others told her to cover her own music and that she completely ruined the song. Though, some came to her defense to say that Shefita isn’t trying to be authentic and some commenters just don’t understand what it is she’s trying to do. The video, uploaded on Canada Day, has received slightly over 7,000 views.

Times of Israel reports that Shefita joked to an Israeli news site that she covered the song because everyone knew they were long time lovers. “A moment before he died in my arms, he made me promise to cover one of his songs,” she said.

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