Cover Controversy

Just about every time we hear that Gotye song “Somebody That I Used to Know,” my wife points out how she thinks he’s mean because he mentioned he didn’t like the Glee version of his song. His complaint was something about it being too Autotuned, which makes sense to me. I’ve never understood why all the music on that show is so heavily produced. Within the context of the show, isn’t it supposed to be sung live by high school students? That said, I guess I understand the idea of getting somewhat miffed at an artist who doesn’t like what I consider a good cover.

The example that comes to mind is Henry Rollins with Camper Van Beethoven’s cover of Black Flag’s “Wasted.” As mentioned here, David Lowery ran into Rollins at a club, and he was kind of a jerk about the cover. I guess it’s not exactly the same since Rollins didn’t actually write “Wasted,” but it’s similar. Personally, I’ve always liked what I guess you could call ironic covers, although maybe absurd covers is a better term, since the artists doing the covering don’t have to actually DISLIKE the original. When you totally change the arrangement to something incongruous, it can highlight some of the inherent silliness of the song. I grew up on Weird Al’s polka medleys, which do much the same thing. What CVB did with “Wasted” was to use a sort of hippie/surfer arrangement.

I didn’t even realize it WAS a cover at first, as it mostly just sounds like early CVB, but when I learned the original was punk rock it helped me to appreciate the absurdity of the cover. CVB later did something similar with Sonic Youth’s “I Love Her All the Time,” although here the humor is more that they made a Sonic Youth song melodic. The lyrics are pretty straightforward, so the cover isn’t as goofy, but it still counts as somewhat absurd.

Most of the other CVB covers I can think of, including their famous version of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” were done pretty straight.

Anyway, getting back to the attitudes of the original artists, I guess it’s not a big deal if they don’t appreciate the humor. Everyone’s sense of humor is different, after all. That said, I still don’t get why Prince repeatedly turns down Weird Al for parody permission.

This entry was posted in Camper Van Beethoven, Humor, Music, Weird Al Yankovic and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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