There are a number of ways that indie artists cover pop hits – most of them involve paring the song down and bringing in a piano or an acoustic guitar and resting on the laurels of simplicity and a powerful voice. What, then, is an artist to do with a song that’s already characterized by its sadness, by a slow and steady piano and an undefeatable voice, a song like Rihanna‘s “Stay”?
These days, it seems that you can’t have a discussion of Miley Cyrus without getting into her public persona – the twerking, the outfits, the drug references, Liam Hemsworth, and so on and so forth. If there’s any discussion of artistry, it’s from the perspective of performance art, of people wondering whether her antics are just a part of the brand she’s trying to sell. But the fact of the matter is that she’s mastered a degree of artistry beyond that, and the attention surrounding her persona only serves to add a layer of depth to any sincere performance she might give.
There are two distinct elements to the Twin Peaks theme song, elements that are difficult for any artist to balance and for any listener to approach. There’s the theme song as a theme song, as Angelo Badalamenti’s mellow, dreamlike instrumentals that play over shots of Northwestern industrialism and waterfalls as the opening credits roll. Alternately, there’s “Falling” – it’s the same song, but it becomes entirely different when Julee Cruise‘s vocals and David Lynch‘s lyrics are introduced. Understandably, most (if not all) covers of the song opt for the latter. And yet, the listener is still somehow presented with the two different versions. Sometimes, like with last year’s Field Mouse cover, we get covers that are evocative of the opening – covers where the vocals are as ethereal as the instrumentals and the whole thing flows together as one ambient whole.
There’s a certain quality to some pop songs that gives them this feel of being something else entirely. You can hear it in the sound, a sound bestowed with measured calm and enormous passion that gives the sense of the song being sung a million times before. You can hear it in the lyrics, veering toward the biblical but never going all the way there and always feeling like a product of their time rather than like something plucked from bygone centuries.
The second of this year’s A.V. Undercover bands to shy away from “No Diggity,” Thao & The Get Down Stay Down opted instead for what they considered the sexiest song on the list – “Need You Tonight” by INXS. They take on the song without irony, but also without an overt subscription to one decade’s style or another. Rather, they fantastically blend the fuzzy grittiness of today’s indie and indie-pop with the neon nightclub feel of the original. It’s a wonderful new entry to the series. Enjoy.
There are a few go-to songs that everyone (save the diehard fan) associates with OutKast - fewer still are the songs that make the oft-covered list. All of which makes it that much more of a pleasure to see Tame Impala covering “Prototype,” off of André 3000‘s half of 2003′s Speakerboxx/The Love Below.
It seems tough, when presented with a band named “Diarrhea Planet,” to focus initially on anything other than that name – that is, until they start to play. When that happens, the Nashville band becomes something that could exist without a name at all; it just is rock and roll. Bands – especially punk bands – bring all sorts of attitudes when they approach so-called classics, but Diarrhea Planet brings nothing but talent and enthusiasm to their take on Bruce Springsteen‘s “Born to Run.” Where other acts might imbue their arts with sarcasm or, alternately, overplayed sincerity, they bring music.