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 Everett True

awful cover versions, cont.

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Astrid Swan Pavement

Bangs truly wept.

I was going to post one of the songs from her forthcoming Hits (Pavement For Girls) covers album, particularly the horribly smug, we’re-all-grown-up-now-and-you-can-fuck-off-back-to-the-playground, breathless version of ‘Box Elder’. And yes, the album is as crass as the title suggests, and yes it is someone coming over all 10th-rate Tori Amos on Pavement’s ass and thereby missing all the intrigue and fun and excitement and fucking SOUL at the heart of many of these songs. But then I came across this, and I was like, “JESUS! Talk about missing the fucking point of pop music and Cat Power and playing slowly and …” and then I got too worked up to continue. Like, some folk think if they slow stuff down it gives it soul or meaning or something. No. It fucking doesn’t. All it means is that you’ve slowed it down. I don’t like Kylie Minogue usually, but whichever way you want to paint it, this is a tremendous pop song. Usually.

Kinda gives the lie to Princess Stomper’s assertion a while back that a great pop song will shine through anything, doesn’t it? Mind you, this is an extreme example of crassness.

I have no idea who the fuck Astrid Swan is, and I really don’t want to know either. She’s from Finland, apparently. Remind me never to go there. Jesus, Chan Marshall has got a lot to answer for.

As I wrote about Sigur Rós:

Slowing stuff down doesn’t make music more ‘serious’ or more ‘soulful’, it just makes it slower. It’s music designed for media people to take designer drugs to (i.e. music that doesn’t stand up on its own merits), music that can be used in film trailers and on TV programmes the world over to signify ‘sensitivity’ or ‘the slow fade’ because it doesn’t intrude or upset for one second. It’s even vacuous enough to be used for sports coverage: the same heady ‘euphoric’ great sweeps of emotion and pomp signifying absolutely nothing. In another age, [this] would have been called ‘elevator music’, but that’s an insult to those fine citizens of Muzak.

11 Responses to awful cover versions, cont.

  1. Everett True July 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I think it’s hard to put as much feeling into a cover song as you can put into an original song.

    I wonder about that sometimes, Erika. Often, a cover version can be the best song in a band’s set … and it’s not just down to the actual song, it’s about the performance. Often, it’s because the band are playing the song because they feel so passionately about it. Some folk are great at doing covers, agreed (back in the 50s and 60s there was none of the stigma attached to doing covers: everyone did it). The ones that aren’t so great often aren’t so great, not because they’re covering a song that means little to them, but because they’re consciously aping another performer’s style – for example the atrocious Astrid Swan and Cat Power.

  2. Joseph Kyle July 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Wow. I mean, wow. Insane. She’s doing Kylie, channeling Bjork, but what she really wants to do is be original!

  3. Ian Rogers July 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    My attitude to covers is that unless you’re prepared to dance around in another band’s disembodied song like Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, then you’re doing it wrong. It also helps A LOT if you have little or no technical skills as a musician.

  4. Ian Rogers July 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    God I wish I’d called something ‘Pavement For Girls’.

  5. Princess Stomper July 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Hey, I never said that there was no such thing as a bad cover version – hell, watch any episode of Glee to see that one borne out!

    My most hated cover version is one of the most popular: the Scissor Sisters’ take on Comfortably Numb. There’s just not enough ‘ugh’ in the world.

    What I had meant was that you could usually spot the cover version in most band’s sets or albums because it’s the strongest track. Examples: Primal Scream’s Slip Inside This House (13th Floor Elevators); Disturbed’s Land of Confusion (Genesis); Soft Cell’s Tainted Love (Gloria Jones).

    Knock On Wood sounds fantastic whether it’s a disco dancefloor filler or a rousing Motown number. Hurt sounds great by either Johnny Cash or NIN. Marilyn Manson’s covers almost always sound better than their own songs – perhaps they’re just more compelling performers than songwriters, or perhaps it’s just the guilty thrill of seeing a well-loved song subverted by a goth clown.

    *shrug*

  6. hannah golightly July 30, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    You’re slagging off Cat Power for her covers??? *Adds mental note to the subject Why Everett True Is Wrong* I heard her doing Sea Of Love on the Juno Soundtrack, which I bought and then due to the puke-inspiring over-dose of Mouldy Peaches spin off songs, rushed back to the shop to return. But not before I burned a copy of Cat Power singing Sea Of Love. That was just goose-pimple-inspiring, tingle-down-your-spine stuff. I think it may have made me cry too. I also learned to sing it. I was never interested in the original until today and I hunted it down (It’s by Phillip Phillips) and I think the original is good obviously, but I love Cat Power’s sound. A cover is where a band should best be able to showcase their band’s sound. When you take an established song and make it your own, your audience knows exactly who you are. It’s a bit like when people go travelling to far distant lands to ‘find themselves’. Against a different backdrop we discover things we hadn’t been aware of before.

    http://youtu.be/CbMeAOTPJzM

  7. hannah golightly July 31, 2011 at 3:25 am

    “The ones that aren’t so great often aren’t so great, not because they’re covering a song that means little to them, but because they’re consciously aping another performer’s style – for example the atrocious Astrid Swan and Cat Power.”

    So ET isn’t saying that both Astrid Swan and Cat Power are atrocious? He’s saying Astrid Swan is ripping off Cat Power’s approach to covering and getting it badly wrong?

  8. Everett True July 31, 2011 at 8:12 am

    So ET isn’t saying that both Astrid Swan and Cat Power are atrocious? He’s saying Astrid Swan is ripping off Cat Power’s approach to covering and getting it badly wrong?

    Precisely, Hannah.

  9. Darragh August 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Peter Gabriel once butchered The Magnetic Field’s “Book of Love”. I put out a death mark on him.

  10. Jonathan August 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    why, astrid swan, why?! i’m saddened and nauseated, in a bad way. this is beyond words… i feel physically illed.

  11. moker August 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    “Slowing stuff down doesn’t make music more ‘serious’ or more ‘soulful’, it just makes it slower.” YES YES YES

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