Saturday, 17 November 2007

covered inglory


Ekko at Berkeley Place is running a poll to find the greatest cover versions of the 21st century. Well done that man. Only time will tell if the results are interesting, or if they’re a Spoon-Postal Service-Death Cab-Feist-Bright Eyes blog-band clusterfuck, but I’m sure plenty of moral good will come of it either way. It’s certainly caused GMS to ruminate on the pros and cons, and on the popularity of covers, ironic or otherwise, in the blogosphere. I didn’t ruminate very much, mind, but below are a few thoughts, and a Pulp video that you ought to watch.

Thinking about it (a bit), it looks like GMS likes three sorts of cover version.

Firstly, there are ‘novelty’ covers of pop, rap or r’n’b songs by white indie types. Careful, though – these walk a fine line called irony, and only the ones that “cross boundaries of race and authenticity” and “ask searching questions about the creation and consumption of art” are any good: sorry, Travis’ ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’, Electric Soft Parade’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, the Vines’ ‘Ms Jackson’, Magic Numbers’ ‘Crazy In Love’ and Biffy Clyro’s ‘Umbrella’. Duran Duran, please leave the room. This genre reaches its apex along the Will Oldham-R. Kelly axis. A sexy axis indeed.

Secondly, there are old men and women getting down with the kids. This started with Johnny Cash, whose American Recordings stuff is sure to feature on Ekko’s list, and has since been taken up by all manner of ageing pop types. Mavis Staples, Charlie Louvin, Joan Baez, Solomon Burke – well done. Neil Diamond – just stick to ‘Sweet Caroline’, eh?

Thirdly, there are hip youngsters discovering / inventing / challenging their roots. By “roots”, we mostly mean Bruce Springsteen. And occasionally ‘Hallelujah’ or ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. The front page of Elbows and the Hype Machine will be full of these, making a few choice covers an essential marketing tool for up-and-coming interweb faves. Hence the recent tributes-cum-hipster-feeding-frenzies in honour of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Pixies, John Fahey and (cut-and-paste style) Radiohead and Belle and Sebastian. None of those have made the grade, though the Dylan one sounds interesting.

Enough! Galactic Mystery Solvers will be posting and writing about its top twenty-something tracks over the next couple of weeks. Some of them may have been recorded before 2000 – the precise details are often hard to track down. In some cases, the originals are attributed to people like Elvis or Elton John, who didn’t write them, but made them famous.

In the meantime, watch Pulp – ‘Bad Cover Version’

1 comment:

Ekko said...

Thanks, Ass Hat.