Cover me badly: stop covering “Halo” – it won’t work!

I already mentioned that Florence Welch tried and failed covering Beyoncès “Halo” but at least that seemed to be in fun and not as a single release. However, Jono McLeery thought he could cover this icon of a pop singer to start this year dreery and kinda annoying.

Jono does everything I hate about bad cover songs:

  • He somehow manages to slow down a ballad (that needs no slowing down)
  • He extracts all the amazing pathos and leaves a soft, soggy singer/songwriter tune
  • speaking of tunes: he absolutely slaughters it, he starts out ok but then he veers off, leaves the original melody on the wayside like a sad dog, stop doing that, Jono, write your own songs if you want to make up your own melodies.

Look, I am all for violins and a warm Winter ballad and the orchestration is actually quite beautiful but there’s no need in destroying the melody of a perfect Pop song just so you can be unique and quirky and put your own twist to the song. The best cover songs manage to keep the spirit alive of the original song and to be honest, Jono failed majorly.

He is not the only one, unfortunately. “Halo” is the white whale of many an accomplished artist. Ane Brun – who I love! – did the same with the song. With a beautiful cello, it turns into this timid soft ditty.

Love the cello but NO to the song

Lotte Kessner, meanwhile, somehow creates a funeral march with it.

NO! THIS IS A HAPPY SONG, GODDAMMIT!

People! “Halo” is amazing because it is sung as an ode to someone who is overwhelming, who leaves you breathless, who is like a storm wave, a force of nature, an epiphany. There’s no place for timid breath-singing, this needs to be sung with euphoria, exactly like Beyoncè does.

And before you’re like: well, some of these songs are supposed to be intimate, duh. Here’s Beyoncè singing a live rendition in a hospital for children with just a guitar alongside and she still burns the house down because that’s just how this song is. How can you sing a line like “you hit me like a ray of sun, burning through the darkest night” and think that this should be a sad, depressing song to sing like Denethor is about to send Faramir into death and all is lost?

This love is all encompassing, people, why would you sell it short?

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Let’s look at my favorite music of 2017

I love to do my end of the year-lists and I already had one figured out for 2017 but then I started playing “Prey” on PS4 and also decided that I could divide the whole list in certain clusters, so they are more topical and then the holidays happened and well …

The result is a little late but it’s here and it starts with the music that I genuinely liked last year whether it was a single song, an album or the whole aura of an artist. As usual, I am kind of off when it comes to the general best of-lists of cool people and music journalists with a few exceptions but then again, why would you see yet another list of the same ten bands? (I am even so unhip, I only made it to 9 on this list).

Btw: these artists are listed in no particular order because I don’t do that, it’s unhealthy and way too dependent on daily mood, weather and level of sleepiness. Continue reading

Favorite Song: The Stranglers ‘Golden Brown’ – this song is about what now?

I was such a naive little thing when I got into music. I remember how I discovered “Golden Brown”, probably in some Guy Ritchie movie on the soundtrack or some such and I was so much in love with it and with Hugh Cornwell’s voice. I bought – to my shame – not an album but a Stranglers sampler (I like to think I did that because it was not yet the time when you could get everything via Amazon and so I only found it on the sampler in my local record store) and listened to it on repeat.

And now, doing some research on the actual meaning of the song, I have to find out that it probably 100% was about heroin. Crickey!

I have hardly had a drink in three years and have merely tasted the marihuana a couple of times in my life and there I am, humming and singing an ode to heroin. Geez, that’s the horrible thing about Brits and their music. They really know how to sing a song about drugs in such a pretty way that you’ll never guess (Americans somehow haven’t yet managed to be that sly and cheeky about it).

Ok, but I still love that song and wanted to feature it because Hugh Cornwall who wrote the lyrics also said that it might have been about a girl. I actually think that this was just an excuse so people like me would not be totally horrified by the lyrics and clasp only a few of their pearls.

Ok, so here’s the reason why I love the song: that solo guitar in the middle, this incredibly simple, close to monotonous melody, that voice (!) and then this repetitive carnival’s music, that kind of puts you into this weird trance. It’s a beauty even if it’s about a horrible horrible drug.

I also want to add this version which is Hugh Cornwall playing with the Mariachi band Mariachi Mexteca which is really absurd but works surprisingly well.

(I also would like to add how lovely Hugh’s voice still is)

The Weather Station ‘dto.’ – Tamara Lindeman is amazing

Tamara Lindeman is one of those women who you read about and you wonder how they managed to smuggle from Themyscira into the real world to shame everyone else. Tamara is an actress, an amazing musician and she apparently also is good enough at snowboarding to have been a licensed snowboarding teacher AS A TEENAGER!

She also worked with Bruce Peninsula and that’s the point where I’m like: enough! She is too fantastic!

Her current album is from her band The Weather Station (dto.) and it is really really beautiful. It’s the kind of hearty folk music that has these nearly painful moments of tenderness but it’s not tender per se, rather strong and meaty. You hear the Canadian-ness in all its lovely glory because even though you can hear all those 70s singer/songwriting influences, its still a modern album and modern takes on old genres is Canada’s best specialty.

Tamara is the same age as me and so I am super into the lyrics which mainly deal with relationships but all amidst our time, our society, technologies, politics.

Oh, and those lyrics. On The Weather Station’s website you can get all the lyrics to the new album and they read like love letters and Tamara sings like the lyrics are a tightrope and she needs to keep going not to stumble and it’s one of the reasons why her music never meanders, is always energetic, powerful and moving.

All in all: I love it.

Favourite Song: Middle Kids ‘Your Love’ – oh, uncertainty

The Middle Kids are from Sydney Australia and are led by Hannah Joy and Tim Fitz. Tagging along, and because a band without a drummer is a band without someone to blame when someone farts on the tour bus, is Harry Day.

The band’s style is somehow inspired of a slightly melancholic country edge but without the twang. In fact, there is an 80s pop clarity that obviously caught my ear immediately and is the reason why their song “Your Love” ended up on this blog. I love that stuff.

I’d like to mention that this band’s use of vocals/backing vocals on record is fantastic (all, I suspect, sung and recorded by Hannah Joy on the EP). That voice is lovely because it can be incredibly tender but also could kick your ass if Hannah would want to.

Apparently, their song “Edge of Town” got quite a bit attention through radio and on Spotify. And it’s a lovely song but “Your Love” has this beautiful effortlessness, this lightness in its sound mingling with melancholy that reminds me of the late Tom Petty (also: the guitars). I also love it when country manages to sneak into indie and pop music because it usually turns out beautifully.

On the Spot: This is the kit – lovely, warm, soft

These are hard times, people. They are rewarding times but it’s still stressful wondering what kind of horrible news will pile up on your timeline this week. Who of your faves is only slightly problematic and who is outright horrible? And everyone is having their list of good guys they hope will not turn into turds. It’s a hell of a time to live in.

Add daylight savings time to that and seasonal rain and grey skies and we all need something lovely to pick us up.

This is the Kit – an indie outfit from Bristol, helmed by Kate Stables and their new album “Moonshine Freeze” is exactly that. This album is beyond gorgeous. Apparently, Guy Garvey once dedicated a radio hour on This is the Kit and that makes all the sense because this band has this lovely attention to detail, soft flowing rhythm and genre-defying symbiosis of musical influences, use of instruments and Stables’ lovely voice. I also want to add, that this album has some absolutely amazing guitar/banjo work by Stables. Very subtle, nothing shredding through the air but just intricate picking that lightly taps at your window. That’s some expert playing, I tell you that.

Listening to the opener “Bullet Proof” is like entering a secret, magical garden. It’s the kind of warmth and beauty that we might need if we want to escape the harsh reality for a while. It’s an embrace, it’s a light.

Quickie: Jamila Woods “HEAVN”: love yourself, be yourself, love this woman

My boyfriend plays Jamila ca. 2000 times each week. He is obsessed with her music and because I am always grateful when he’s not playing pale Swedish jazz ladies or nostalgic rap tracks, I immediately was caught by this absolute lightness that Jamila has in her voice and her music.

With lightness I mean the actual feeling of floating in the clouds (not down here with red balloons, mind). Jamila’s voice alone is enough to just relax into a puddle of bliss but she also writes fantastic lyrics about empowerment and her own identity as a black woman AND she has moments of musical genius in pretty much every song.

This video is so great and that chorus will stay with you forever!

The album was released back in 2016 but is available in Germany since August this year, so excuse me for coming late to the party.