In 2006, everyone was losing their mind over Gnarls Barkley’s breakout single “Crazy.” The song appealed to just about everyone: young/old, black/white, people who dug Motown and people who dug hip-hop. I was working at a record shop at the time, and music lovers turned out in droves to buy the duo’s debut album on CD, even in a era when most listeners were downloading iTunes singles en masse. Like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” the song blends dark, paranoid lyrics with a danceable groove.
Kacey Musgraves, a traditionalist country star trying to drag her genre out of New Nashville Hell, is a fitting choice to pay tribute to a musical act that in the 2000s did the impossible and wrote a universal indie/rap/pop/whatever hit that was so good you didn’t roll your eyes when Rolling Stone named it the #1 song of the decade.
During her set at the 2016 Cayamo cruise Musgraves covered Gnarls Barkley‘s “Crazy” almost 10 years to the date of its release. She turned the fun, beat-driven groove into a dark meditation about losing your mind.
Gnarls Barkley‘s “Crazy” was an inescapable song in 2006 in both its original form and cover renditions. Everyone from The Raconteurs to Nelly Furtado have put their own spin on the highly infectious tune. Although eight years old (yes, you read that correctly), the song still has that freshness to it, and YouTube star Daniela Andrade captures it perfectly with her take on the debut single from Danger Mouse and CeeLo Green.
Hailing from the blues hotbed of St. Louis, Bhi Bhiman isn’t your typical acoustic guitar-strumming, harp-blowing, scratchy-voiced folk troubadour. While many of his folk peers strive for the classic early-Bob Dylan aesthetic, Bhi’s voice has a soulful smoothness to it that makes him sound more like Cee-Lo Green than Ramblin’ Jack Elliot or Woody Guthrie. Considering the obvious vocal resemblance between Bhiman and the former Goodie Mob rapper, it seems only natural that Bhi would offer his own acoustic interpretation of Green’s most vocally-ambitious track, the hit single “Crazy” from the 2006 debut album by Gnarls Barkley, Green’s collaborative project with Danger Mouse.
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We’ve been hearing a lot from Cee-Lo Green of late. First he covers Band of Horses, then lots of people cover “F*** You.” While we anxiously await more, let’s remember when he first hit the big time. The singing half of Gnarls Barkley alongside producer Danger Mouse, his outrageous outfits and even more outrageous voice propelled “Crazy” to…well, you remember.
On the other hand, you may or may not remember “Gone Daddy Gone,” the single they released after “Crazy.” Even if you do, you may not have realized it was a cover. For most bands, recording a soul cover of alt-weird-folk trio Violent Femmes would be weird enough. Not Gnarls. They added a video that turns the band into rock and roll lice looking for some pubic hair to call their own. It’s like A Bug’s Life. A really, really warped Bug’s Life.
Not much is known about Cee-Lo Green’s upcoming album Lady Killer, but count on one thing: it won’t be as huge as “Crazy.” That’s the problem with having one of the biggest hits of the last decade; nothing Cee-Lo does will ever be as big as “Crazy.” That Gnarls Barkley song crossed the line from hit single to cultural phenomenon and, listening to it again a few years later, it holds up.
A cover of indie-folk upstarts Band of Horses seems unlikely to make a similar impact. The fact that Green grooves to the flannel-and-beard set is a bit surprising, but “No One’s Gonna Love You” translates pretty well to his funkier soul sound. It even comes with a video, which debuted a few days ago but kept getting pulled by the RIAA. Now it’s out officially. It mostly features a couple being adorable on a road trip until, as tends to happen with road trips, things devolve. There’s also a dead fish. The vintage clip fits the lyrics, if not the electro-soul sound.