Sunday, February 26, 2006

Songs Sixty to Sixty-Two

Wow, there's gold out there in them thar iMixes, dear reader! I hit two supercool ones devoted entirely to covers. Hence, my theme this week (and next, I went a bit crazy with the downloads): everything old is new again. In some way, this theme was suggested by the process of my qualifying exams: tell us in some new way everything you've learned in the past few terms; oh, and do it while we have you locked in a room for a day and a half because this is likely to happen often in your career. Thank goodness this week is bookended by two fantabulous pop culture rituals: the Dancing with the Stars season finale and the Oscars. As always, spectacle saves the day by dulling the mind. Tonight, my money's on Drew Lachey because, in a weird coincidence, at this exact time last year, I spent a week in a hotel in NYC that directly overlooked a gigantic poster of Drew as some character in Rent. So, clearly, this is an omen. Plus, I really feel badly for his brother, so I'm sure a win for Drew would be a pick-me-up for the whole family.

Anyway, I'm frontloading this week since I know the backend will be a bit stacked. So, onto the first three covers . . .

Song Sixty: Ryan Adams, "Wonderwall." I don't know much about Ryan Adams beyond what I can pick up through much the general press--he's a confused manchild who should never leave home without his antidepressants or some enabling retinue to mind him. But, I do know that I could listen to the Oasis version of this song all day and still feel dreamy. So, I gave it a shot. There's an essential snottiness about Liam Gallagher's voice that Mr. Adams doesn't have. He's so earnest in his rendition; he kind of trails off with hopefulness everywhere the original had a taste of resentment. The production is sparse, and what's nice is that the beauty of the song is so plain. I would say it might be undeniable even to those who find the drunken brawling and grandstanding of the Gallaghers a bit much. (I find it to be all part of the road show.)

Song Sixty-One: Stina Nordenstam, "Purple Rain." My husband was once in a band that covered PR as kind of an alt-country tune--but you could still easily tell it was the Prince song. It takes quite a bit of time into Ms. Nordenstam's version before you even realize what song this is. This is not bad. She's got a classic little girl muffled Nordic delivery (think mid-Cardigans) with a real industrial gone emo backbeat. It's all slowed down, glacially paced, and in the process, it picks up an undertone of lost hope pleading that isn't really as present in the original. In this version, Fifth Avenue is located beneath about 10 feet of hard-packed surface snow, and each member of the Revolution is wearing a chunky knit hoodie and fingerless gloves. A truly original cover.

Song Sixty-Two: Supersuckers, "Hey Ya!" Again, I could listen to Outkast's song a thousand times, and probably really have. So, trust me, this version rocks!! The first time I ever encountered the Supersuckers, we were driving from Minneapolis (where my husband bought The Sacrilicious Sounds of the Supersuckers used based entirely on its title) to the UP. We listened to it several times on the long--though lovely--drive. And, you never forget a band with a song title like "The 19th Most Powerful Woman in Rock." So, I had to download this. They've kept all the joy, humor, and shimmy plus added a raw edge. You can hear the wear and tear of a rock life on the road in their voices and less-than-precise handclaps. Again, as with "Wonderwall," this covers lets the essential song-ness of the tune shine it's beauty through. Way fun!!!

303 to go.