Alien Ant Farm’s 2001 Cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” Is Once Again Going Wildly Viral

This isn't the first time the nu-metal band's take on the classic King of Pop cut has spurred nostalgia overdoses, and it's not likely to be the last.

Video via Alien Ant Farm

View this video on YouTube

Video via Alien Ant Farm

Alien Ant Farm, one of the few bands in rock history to have ever pulled off a worthy cover version of an already iconic song, is currently enjoying one hell of a timely boom on Twitter, a site I still refuse to refer to as X.

For those unfamiliar, AAF, fronted by lead vocalist Dryden Mitchell, scored an unlikely Billboard mega-smash back in 2001 with their take on Michael Jackson’s Quincy Jones-produced Bad hit “Smooth Criminal.” On the Alternative Airplay ranking, AAF’s MJ cover spent 27 total weeks on the chart, four of which were spent in the No. 1 position. On the Hot 100, meanwhile, the song spent 20 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 23.

That same year, the song was featured in the sequel to American Pie. It soundtracked a scene in which Jason Biggs' character Jim, having moved on from pie-involved intercourse and related matters, finds himself glued to his own genitalia after mistaking glue for lube.

View this video on YouTube

Video via The Year 2001

The cover's official video, directed by Marc Klasfeld (whose other credits from the time include videos for Jay-Z and Sum 41), also proved to be a mainstay of the era and included more than a few nods to the King of Pop. A remastered version of the video uploaded to the band's YouTube channel in 2009 has since amassed more than 300 million views, a number that's set to continue piling up in the years ahead thanks to the track's tendency to keep going viral.

"Twitter’s fine and dandy, but we’re here to just do what we do," Mitchell told Yvonne Villasenor for a Los Angeles Times interview in 2022, responding to a similar resurgence of the band's "Smooth Criminal" cover.

Below, see a selection of appreciation posts from the current wave of AAF love, including belated expressions of adoration for nu-metal at large. Confusingly, at least one far-right weirdo tried to co-opt the conversation but was swiftly mocked for doing so.

White boys don’t go this hard anymore

— W.E.B. DaBoi (@Tyre_94) January 19, 2024
Twitter: @Tyre_94

Beyond this being an insane example of a racist saying “we used to be a proper country,” Alien Ant Farm’s vocalist is the son of an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

— John-Michael Bond (@BondJohnBond) January 20, 2024
Twitter: @BondJohnBond

Saying the Alien Ant Farm smooth criminal cover is bad is the highest form of history revisionism

— Pressure and Rage (@xcloudbustingx) January 21, 2024
Twitter: @xcloudbustingx

Watching an Alien Ant Farm video with tears in my eyes for an America I no longer recognize. Hugging my wife close. Whispering “America has been stolen by a smooth criminal”

— Jesse (@MuskTillDawn) January 20, 2024
Twitter: @MuskTillDawn

i do find the historical revisionism that people always loved the Alien Ant Farm Smooth Criminal cover to be funny because everyone acted like it was an all time shit cover for like 15 years lol

— Jane Altoids (@staticbluebat) January 20, 2024
Twitter: @staticbluebat

The year is 2035, my 12 sons and I are in the federal Michael Jackson Memorial Library. My youngest turns to me and asks what it would cost to make the Alien Ant Farm video today,
“We can’t, we don’t know how to do it.”

— big n’ate 🐛 (@Nateorious10) January 19, 2024
Twitter: @Nateorious10

Interesting that twitter can devote 3 days to talking about Alien Ant Farm but I sing Bloodhound Gang at work and get reported to HR.

— Jarvis (@jarvis_best) January 20, 2024
Twitter: @jarvis_best

In this era of polarization, it's nice to know that the world comes together every few months to agree that Alien Ant Farm's cover of Smooth Criminal was a banger.

— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) January 20, 2024
Twitter: @ChrisVannini

Alien Ant Farm had some bops and I will die on this ant hill. Glow fucking rules

— Fullmetal Anarchist (@dogpopeinspace) January 19, 2024
Twitter: @dogpopeinspace

The latest instance of "Smooth Criminal" virality, fittingly, arrives surrounding word that the band is releasing ~mAntras~ in April, marking their first new album in nearly a decade.

As always, this is my regular reminder to anyone willing to hear the message that nostalgia is indeed a drug. Listen responsibly, and don't forget to always support your favorite artists' newest work while you're at it.

Latest in Music