Sep 202009

Shuffle Sundays is a weekly feature in which we feature a cover chosen at random by my iTunes shuffle. The songs will usually be good, occasionally be bad, always be interesting. All downloads will only be available for one week, so get them while you can. After you listen, discuss this week’s tune in the comments.

I first encountered Rhode Island’s Math the Band on the spastic Unlimited Enthusiasm Expo tour (review here). They were joined on the road by Harry and the Potters and Uncle Monsterface, but held their own with the summer camp-themed exuberance. Their choreographed dance to the Step By Step theme song kicked things off in high gear, and most of their show consisted of the three-piece jumping frantically around stage while their laptops did their music-making for them.

Their glitchy synth-pop would be jarring if it weren’t so endearing. Unfortunately I have yet to come across a recording of the rave-bop “Home on the Range” they performed that night, but their free Covers EP contains enough devil-may-care dance-alongs to keep even the most A.D.D. pre-teen breathless. Highlights include “You Shook Me All Night Long,” the Zelda theme, and “The Sign.”

Sweden’s Ace of Base turned up in the early nineties with this smash single. You were never sure how seriously they took themselves, but with this Math the Band cover that question never arises. This electro-pop tune is played many times faster than it was ever meant to go, like a pimped-out soccer-mom sedan that can’t handle the pressure. The two singers’ parts never perfectly sync up and the exuberant shouting never veers too close to the tune.

Now I don’t mean to say these guys don’t have talent, it’s just that their real skill comes in how well they hide it. Music this absurdly high-voltage takes work, but it sounds like something you and your middle school friends might have recorded at the tail end of an up-all-night slumber party. Craftsmanship and second takes are of less concern than who can leap the highest.

So get your jumping shoes on and go see the sign. Then try to record a cover this silly yourself. I think you’ll find it’s not so easy.

Math the Band – The Sign (Ace of Base) [Buy]

What do you think? Discuss this song in the comments section below.