November 1st, 2004

Tom Lehrer is Smug

LOST

LOST
One voice

Last heard in the Somerville area

If found please contact Mr. D. Spatchel Esq
(no need to call, you wouldn't hear me anyway)

PS I AM AT WORK TAKING CALLS HAND OVER FIST OH HO THE IRONY
Tom Lehrer is Smug

(no subject)

I'm suffering today, so you must suffer too.

Some of you know I'm a sucker for cover songs. Sometimes the more egregious the cover, the more enjoyment I get out of it. Other times, however, it just makes my ears bleed.

See, there are good cover songs and there are bad ones. Good cover songs will find an interesting new take on the original song and enhance it somehow. Bad cover songs will take the meaning of the original, grabbing the subtle nuances while they're at it, and either pervert them incoherently or just ignore them all together. (The most classic example is GL's impassioned lament of a way-too-upbeat a cappella cover of I Heard It Through The Grapevine that we once had to endure: "The original song is about heartbreak! Pain! About a girl who's left the singer forever without telling him! With this song, it's like she just stepped out for some groceries!")

Oh, there are also mediocre cover songs, note-for-note remakes that just make no existential sense at all -- why do it if you want to sound 100% like the original? Just because you like it? Because you can? Well, ohh-kay...

The song I found manages to commit both cover song sins at the same time, which is quite notable. It also sucks hard, which isn't so notable. It's also one of the most idiosyncratic pairings of song genres I've ever heard, which wouldn't have been so bad if, again, the song hadn't, say, sucked wind.

I'm speaking of this: A 1985 Eurosynth pop cover of Ode To Billy Joe. With horrendous synth sound effects punctuating almost every phrase, destroying any kind of mystery or melancholia the original song, however 70s cheesy, held. And you can't even dance to it. Not that I tried. But if I had tried, I'd have failed. And not due to any lack of skill on my part, which is pretty impressive. The lack of skill, I mean.

I'm really not amazed that someone thought this pairing up -- anyone can do that with enough dee-licious chemicalia in their head -- but I am amazed, however, that someone else thought that it was a good idea.