The A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series produces too many great gems to keep track of. We’ve shared recent highlights like Grouplove’s bloody Andrew W.K. and Deer Tick’s rowdy Harvey Danger, but the series may be too much of a good thing and it’s hard to keep up. If you’ve fallen behind on these too, we’ve rounded up some of the recent highlights that we never got around to posting. A robed 24-person Neil Young, a mariachi Decemberists, and a pink-mohawked Violent Femmes await…
Any cover of a beloved song is sure to be met with a bit of suspicion and wariness. Sometimes it’s deserved and sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes it’s hard to even know how to react or how to feel. Some covers need to face the test of time before they can be judged. This, it seems, is the fate of the Flaming Lips cover of the Beach Boys classic, “God Only Knows.”
Released on MOJO Magazine’s fiftieth anniversary tribute to the Beach Boys, the cover is undeniably simplistic and chock-full of reverb, but it is also perfectly melodic and beautifully sung by Wayne Coyne. The base level of instrumentation is chiptunesy and dreamlike, and Coyne’s vocals are spot-on with Brian Wilson’s.
It’s hard to say what makes the song work or not work, but it seems that the only real distracting factor is the reverb. Then again, the fact of the matter is that the rest of the track stays remarkably close to the original. Granted, there are different instruments and a slightly slower tempo, but there aren’t the kind of changes one might expect on a high-profile indie cover of an undeniable pop classic.
Maybe that’s the point. Perhaps we’re digging too much into this, but maybe the discord created by the ever-present reverb is that major changing factor that the Flaming Lips wanted to bring to this cover. Even with the technical aspects of the original held intact, the reverb creates an entirely different mood for the song. Maybe that’s the point, maybe it’s not; regardless, the track is certainly worth a listen. It’s worth a bunch of listens, if you’ve got the time. Enjoy.
The Flaming Lips – God Only Knows (Beach Boys cover)
Check out more from The Flaming Lips at their website.
If 2011 was the year of Buddy Holly and Nirvana covers, then 2012 is shaping up to be the year of Beatles cover. A couple hours ago, we premiered a cover of “I Am the Walrus” by NOVI, and now you can watch a video of the Flaming Lips covering the same song. That makes this their second Beatles cover of the past few months.
Even for them, the Flaming Lips are doing some weird stuff these days. Gummy flash drives? 24-hour songs? Human skulls? By those standards, the cover of the Beatles’ “Revolution” they performed on MTV’s O Music Awards is pretty normal. Wayne Coyne wears an aluminum foil space suit, the band spazzes along behind him, and everything is performed on iPads. So, you know, another day at the office for these guys.
Last week, with a full moon as the backdrop, psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips took the stage surrounded by the graves of many dead celebs at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The band performed a live take on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, doing so in the framework of Dark Side of the Rainbow, the pairing of the 1973 album with the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.