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Monday, July 21, 2008

On Covers and the Meaning Behind Them

Slate had a great piece Friday on cover versions and what they communicate. It seems Noel Gallagher (resident twat from Oasis) and Jay-Z were embroiled in a war of words. Noel, in his position as Lord Overseer of British Pop (unelected and, unfortunately, unignored), stated that Jay-Z shouldn't headline Glastonbury because it's a 'rock' festival. So Jay-Z opened his set with a mocking version of 'Wonderwall,' mumbling the lyrics and purposelessly strumming a guitar. Pretty brilliant move, IMHO, considering the venue.

What Jonah Weiner brings up in his piece also troubled me at Pitchfork. Mockery definitely has a place in music, but irony really doesn't-especially in pop. This came to my mind during the King Khan set I saw at Bottom Lounge Saturday night. King Khan present an indie r&b revue to their audience, and it has all the fixings. Costumes. Horns. Choreagraphed patter and dance moves. And as a huge r&b nut, the first song did move me. But after two or three more songs I realized that the whole set was shtick. King Khan and his cohorts may actually love '60s soul, but their version of it is way too aware of itself and bent on self-mockery. If you are going to satire art, it always helps if you actually look like you appreciate that in which you give the piss. Otherwise, it comes off as mean and snarky.

The other weird, fantastic connection in the piece was the link to Alanis Morrisette's version of 'My Humps'.

Pretty great. The person who posted it to YouTube was my good friend Kevin, who lives in L.A. Crazy, odd, getting-incredibly-smaller world we live in.

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