Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cover Version Redaction Criticism

So the first time I encountered this song was in a youtube clip shared on facebook by my friend Dale.  It is most notable for the extremely creative way 5 people (Walk off the Earth) are playing just one guitar simultaneously.  I have seen and even particpated in 2 people playingone guitar but five is pretty special.  As far as I know that was a first?  The girl is playing diads on the top, the long haired dude is playing the melody around her, and the guy next to him plays the bass line on the low E (top) string. Of the remaining two, fresh face plays percussion and hat+beard strum the strings above the nut. It is a cool song, but the unusual mode of delivery tends to overshadow the song. 
--

--
Then Nick Norelli linked to this video, by an a cappella group called Pentatonix.  This is another nice arrangement, with impressive beat boxing and gorgeous harmonies.  Notable consistency between the versions is the lyrics and bass line, the lyrics pass between a male and female singer and the bass line remains the same.  There is also a guy with a beard and a beanie standing on the far right with a strange expression on his face in both versions. So one might posit that we could expect to find these characteristics in the original. 

---
So after some digging on youtube I found this live version by the original artist.  Interestingly while the lyrics, girl guy exchange and bass line are consistent across versions, the original does not have a guy with a beard and beanie, standing on the right, or indeed anywhere on camera.  I would therefore posit that this development happened during the period of the first cover version perhaps due to the great wooly hat controversy that may have been raging at that time.  What we can see is that the original guy in a beard actual is on the right and wears not a beanie but a pair of headphones denoting status.  In the cover versions, however, the guy with the beard has been moved and given a wooly hat, denoting homelessness and an uncompromising right wing ideology.  We can see in these cover versions a clear example of the marginalisation and mockery of bearded men as part of the anti-beard culture which became prevalent in the music community early last year.  Thus the original message and purpose of the song has been subtly corrupted despite many features remaining otherwise undisturbed.

----

No comments:

Post a Comment