Erik Laroi, who records as Soft News, appeared on both our Best Cover Albums and Songs lists a few years back for his tribute to 1980s soft-rock hits. He’s also recorded terrific EPs covering New Order and Everything but the Girl. He’s plenty experienced covering 1980s synth bands, but Soft News’ new cover of Poison’s party song “Talk Dirty to Me” is Laroi’s first attempt at glam rock.
Laroi joined Janine Annett, a veteran punk rocker, and Margaret White, who has worked with Sparklehorse and Cat Power, for a trio take “Talk Dirty to Me” for the digital hair-metal magazine March Shredness. Annett always wanted to do an acoustic cover of a heavy metal song and says now she finally had the time. Annett sings, Laroi plays guitar, and White both sings and lends her talents on violin.
Laroi told me via email that the original intent was for all three to record the vocals together, but he felt his voice sounded silly. So he stripped out his voice which left voices from White and Annett. Laroi knew this female sound made a “much more beautiful and poignant statement”. As a result, the girls-only recording was the way forward for this softened heavy metal tune. This decision proves the difference maker as the femininity provides a nice juxtaposition to the original overproduced super maleness.
The slow pace and sweet voices of Soft News’ cover make it an easy-listening oasis. Poison has a fun and racy song indeed, but with this stripped down interpretation, you could be fooled into thinking this is early Taylor Swift. That is, of course, until you hear the title finally mentioned in the chorus. When the mellower version declares “Talk Dirty to Me”, you experience a different understanding of naughtiness.