Think of all those pop songs that have made an impact on your life. Remember those that reached into your soul and made you confront all those things that laid you low, that opened your heart and played with your tears; or those that brought an infectious smile to your face, and gave extra dazzle to the sunlight.
Think of those songs that have held your hand since you were a child, that have been with you through your life, that have walked with you through the sands. Songs that made you groove, made you want to dance or daydream. Songs that raised money for charity. Songs that people danced to at your eighteenth birthday, or your wedding, or that people always dance to in clubs.
Close your eyes: can you see them arrayed before you ? Can you hear them ?
Good: now listen to the ‘X-Factor’ finalist’s cover version of David Bowie’s Heroes, and tell me if it’s a worthy contribution to pop music.
Think of the visceral power of Bowie’s version, the sheer gut-wrenching passion that screams out through the recording, the anguish and the need that took an array of gated microphones to capture in the studio. And then hear the cover.
Bowie must be shuddering; or counting the royalties…
I’m going through a David Bowie phase in my car at the moment – in-car listening is a terrific way of exploring music – and am working through Changes,Black Tie, White Noise and Reality,
All was going well until three tracks into Black Tie,White Noise when Bowie started singing his cover version of Cream’s I Feel Free. I’ve not heard it before – and it was terrifying.
A 60’s super-group comprising guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, Cream’s original version of I Feel Free has a manic, slightly trippy euphoria about it, a recklessly exuberant feel.
Bowie’s, however, has none of that: instead, there’s a brooding menace about his version: he sings in a very low register, the rhythmic feel is halved, such that it is much slower, there’s none of the jolly hand-clapping of the Cream original. All in all, it adds up to a very creepy rendition: I think it works, but I’m still not wholly sure, being slightly freaked out at hearing a song I’ve loved for years delivered in such a brooding and ominous fashion (once you get past the opening twenty seconds, that is…).
Combined with a slightly deranged guitar improvised chorus, it’s quite disturbing: shades of Buffalo Bill or the Jigsaw Man’s soundtrack inside their head as they stalk the pavements for their next victim.
Compare them for yourself, and let me know what you think. If you dare…
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.