Shooting music videos with Tara Reid, judging America’s Best Dance Crew, and singing at sorority functions? While J.C. Chasez has kept a lower profile than his former *NSync buddy Justin Timberlake in recent months, the latest locale he’s turned up in is more surprising than the time we learned what the acronym for “ADIDAS” really meant. Yes, he has a tendency to wear fedoras in public and hang out with Glee‘s Matthew Morrison, but apparently JC is also a fan of the unexpected pop-up performance and somewhat stealing the thunder of nervous male undergrads who are just trying to snag a formal date.
There’s a whole subgenre* of music wherein sensitive, acoustic guitar-strumming artists try to flip the script by taking the edge off hardcore hip-hop songs (think Dynamite Hack‘s “Boyz In The Hood”, Ben Folds‘ “Bitches Ain’t S***”) by adding an element of ironic humor to their interpretations. Well, no one has ever accused Courtney Love of being anything remotely approaching sensitive, which is why we have zero issues with the acoustic cover of Jay-Z‘s “99 Problems” that she performed at a Sundance Film Festival afterparty over the weekend.
Hova’s original, Rick Rubin-produced version of “99 Problems” is alternately defiant and hilarious, but Courtney Love ups the emotional stakes significantly by stripping any trace of humor from the song. She infuses lines like “But ain’t nothing sweet ’bout how I hold my gun” with a layer of emotional instability that turns the song from a riotous party anthem into something significantly more haunting and, along the way, reminds us how much the music world misses the enigmatic star.
*A genre which, frankly, we grew tired of as soon as it sprouted up.
Courtney Love, “99 Problems” [The Awl]
“You ain’t got no Jodeci? What is a Radiohead anyway?” Last Thursday the six-time Grammy-nominated Frank Ocean proved once and for all that he knows exactly what “A Radiohead” is, slipping an affecting but so-sweet cover of their 1995 classic “Fake Plastic Trees” into a short set he played for a Spotify event in New York. Ocean skipped straight to the song’s final verse — the bit about “I can’t help the feeling / I could blow through the ceiling” seeming resonant right about now — and only got about a minute and a half of the song in before getting back to his own “Voodoo,” but it was enough to get the crowd whoop-ing and us hoping that he might someday do more like this. This is sure to leave you with all sorts of feelings.
Frank Ocean Covers Radiohead At The 2012 Spotify Press Event [ONTD]
It’s been a feet on the ground, head in the sky sort of summer for The Lumineers. And as the summer winds down and their ascent continues on and up, we have another treat to share from their You Oughta Know Live session. After stunning us with their own “Stubborn Love,” “Slow It Down” and, of course, “Ho Hey!,” the rising American folk rock trio looked back to 1983 with a crunchy-Americana cover of the Talking Heads‘ funky “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).” Stripped down, with Wesley Schultz alone strumming at his guitar for almost two minutes before the drums kick in and Neyla‘s cello begins to bellow, their rendering is less playful but goes in extra on the yearning and the “And You’ll love me till my heart stops, love me till I’m dead”‘s.
“Naive Melody” is one of the few love songs that David Byrne ever wrote, and as they cover it, it could fall comfortably into their mix of mostly loving songs. So, cover up your blanks spot, hit us on the head — we are happy to know the The Lumineers, and even more so that they can do this so well!
Check out The Lumineer’s full You Oughta Know Live session here!
You might think that “Somebody That I Used To Know” is just a song that Gotye used to know. That at this point it has been surrounded on all sides by cover after parody after mash-up after cover, that it is but a thing of the internet, that it has taken on a life all its own. But Gotye has been watching all the while, and today he presents this most comprehensive super-cut of the internet’s worth of “Somebodies” into one great mobius strip of “Used To Knows.”
On his website, he writes of the project: “Reluctant as I am to add to the mountain of interpretations of Somebody That I Used To Know seeming taking over their own area of the internet, I couldn’t resist the massive remixability that such a large, varied yet connected bundle of source material offered.” And, like the good internet citizen that he is, he links to each of the videos he used. So maybe he missed a few! But who’s to blame him for wanting to reclaim what was his, and for doing it so thoughtfully, too. Read more…
It’s Friday, and the internet has so kindly graced us with two worthy covers to drive us into the weekend:
Last night in Sydney, Lana Del Rey gave Nirvana‘s “Heart Shaped Box” a stormy and orchestral cover. Nirvana has come to be considered sacred territory, just ask Miley Cyrus, who took serious flack for her “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cover, but Lana’s haunting voice makes for an interesting tribute. Her obsession with fame is not without understanding of Kurt Cobain’s obsession with escaping fame, and her belts of “Hey, wait, I’ve got a new complaint” feel almost as tortured as Kurt’s devastating originals, and she somehow managed to make the brutal “I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black” line sound feminine and delicate. This was a risk, but it seemed to work.
Lana Del Rey‘s viral hit “Video Games” has inspired countless covers and regrettable tattoos already, and now it has done one better by drawing Culture Club‘s Boy George forth for a remake of his own. The mostly retired pop icon keeps all the song’s soul but loses the Instagram-ed quality, trading its warm haziness for a gritty twang that we can’t say we expected from the former Blitz Kid. Spin suggests that George’s cover “brings Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’ even closer to Chris Isaak‘s ‘Wicked Game,’ and that’s never a bad thing,” and we couldn’t agree more. The soundtrack to a video tale of “young love in bleak Britian,” helmed by Boy George documentary director Mike Nicholls, the song haunts the real world of an enamored couple kissing in an alleyway, playing on the coast, and sweetly sharing cotton candy. It’s as if, where Del Rey’s version haunts a dream world. We’ll keep both, if that’s okay.
They don’t call him Glambert for nothing.
Adam Lambert channeled his inner disco queen this weekend in San Francisco, where he worked a tribute to Donna Summer into his set at Alice Radio Summerthing’s event in Golden Gate Park. “I love Donna Summer so much!” he effused, before launching into a cover of late disco diva’s classic “Hot Stuff.” “Do you love Donna Summer?”
The crowd cheered because of course they love Summer, and of course they loved Lambert’s rocking rendition. In addition to his signature glam-rock flare, he mostly to the song he brings extra cowbell. It worked though, and made for a particularly nice lead in to “Cuckoo,” off his latest album Trespassing.
“In memory of Donna,” as he says, check the performance out below:
Lil’ Kim‘ probably didn’t imagine that, when she rapped “no matter where you from, put your lighters up” in “Lighters Up,” a young troubador from England would eventually take heed. But, here we have it: Ed Sheeran, putting his lighter up, so to speak, during a set last night at New York’s Bowery Ballroom. In town to celebrate the stateside release of his debut album +, the 21-year-old You Oughta Know artist who hails from Halifax, England skillfully wove a cover of the Queen Bee’s ode to Brooklyn into his own “Grade 8.” And, of course, the crowd went wild.
In the above video, Keernan sets up with a little beat boxing and then transitions into his half-rapped “Grade 8,” at one point dropping in (at around 2:40) a few lines borrowed from Kim. “It’s the land of trouble / Brooklyn home of the greatest rappers / Big comes first then the queen comes after,” he rhymes, leaving —at least for now— himself out of it.
Patti Smith has done it, as have Childish Gambino and Jamie XX and probably also everyone else you know with a YouTube account. And now we have Celine Dion, legendary chanteuse, adding to the cannon and giving Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep” a go of her own. Obviously, she kills it.
Powerful and sultry, Dion’s cover is at once faithful to the Grammy-sweeping original and worthy of its place in Dion’s hugely successful Vegas show. According to the Las Vegas Sun, the cover takes the place of that the Michael Jackson medley she did in runs past. It may also show up on her upcoming album, Water and Flame, which will include covers, some new material, and a duet with Ne-Yo.
“I love Adele so much. She’s amazing,” Celine professed to the approving Sin City crowd. So do we, Celine. So do we.