Join 3,420 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Bruno Mars covers "California Girls"...
March 2, 2011 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Bruno Mars covers "California Girls"... on BBC 1's Live Lounge. Live Lounge generally features two acoustic performances, one of which is a contemporary cover song. Interpretations are often passionate and reverent. Here, Bruno Mars covers a pure pop song, Kate Perry's California Girls, without any irony.
posted by beisny (26 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
But was this post created ironically? I JUST CAN'T TELL ANYMORE.
posted by Pants McCracky at 6:02 AM on March 2, 2011


I believe you mean "California Gurls".
posted by knile at 6:07 AM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


yes you are right
posted by beisny at 6:10 AM on March 2, 2011


I mean, yes, California Gurls is a silly pop song with silly pop music themes and silly lyrics and a super-silly video. But there's always been something about the tune, especially the melody, that's actually kinda nice. Slowing it down a little bit and going acoustic will reveal those tendencies.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:14 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last link goes to "Franz Ferdinand - Womanizer (Britney Spears Cover)"...
posted by Perplexity at 6:29 AM on March 2, 2011


You have the wrong link. Maybe you meant this?
posted by demiurge at 6:30 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Occasionally, the covers are better than the originals. Best example: Florence & The Machine -- 'Halo' (Beyonce). Alternatively, the covers are occasionally better than the artist's own music (ie. Avril Lavigne covering Coldplay)

Another favorite of mine is 30 Seconds to Mars's Cover of Stronger by Kanye West.
posted by schmod at 6:30 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some more:

- Leone Lewis - Snow Patrol's "Run" (later turned into a single with a more generic poppy sound.. I quite like this first live cover).

- Ting Tings - The Gossip's "Standing In The Way Of Control"
- Dizzy Rascal - Ting Ting's Not My Name
- Corinne Bailey Rae - Justin Timberlake's Sexyback
- It's always odd to see sugar sweet kiddy pop girl groups singing some real songs.
- The Noisettes - The Killers' When You Were Young
-

Also, a few from another BBC Radio 1 compilation, not sure they are really Live Loungs:

- Fratelli's - All Along the Watchtower
- Corinne Bailey Rae - Steady As She Goes

Totally not relevant but cool:

- The Ting Tings - Hands (live, acoustic)
posted by Harry at 6:39 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


The California Girls link actually goes to Franz Ferdinand covering Womanizer. I would actually have been interested to hear it. I have to say though, that I really object to this tired industry of the acoustic cover, and I don't care any more whether they're ironic or sincere. The idea that stripping the jaw-dropppingly well-produced pop songs we get today down to their bare melody and a few naked chords will magically reveal the true and beautiful essence that had always been obscured strikes me as... misguided. Electricity is real magic. Machines are real magic. Dr Luke and Stargate are real wizards. We live in a wondrous age for pop music and it makes me sad that so many people don't seem to be able to appreciate the awesomeness of what's going on, and cling instead to all these empty gestures in the direction of Soulfulness and Authenticity. I realise that some people just like the sound of acoustic instruments, and that's fine. And I realise that picking up your guitar is the simplest and most straightforward way of paying tribute to a song that you genuinely admire. But I definitely get the impression that a lot of music fans and some artists think the skills and aesthetic sensibilities involved in contemporary pop production are somehow beneath them, and that's a shame. I wish that more artists would do more radical and involved and production-intense covers - not on radio shows like these of course, but maybe on compilations like Guilt by Association 1 and 2, instead of relying on the tired assumption that wall-to-wall acoustic guitars somehow make things more interesting, instead of less so.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:46 AM on March 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


The very first title first link is the Bruno Mars cover. Sorry if this caused any confusion, I am still learning! Here is the California Gurls cover again.

two or three cars parked under the stars, we are totally in agreement regarding the artistry that is often dismissed or unacknowledged in pop production. I don't think Bruno Mars would disagree with you either - his album, which I frankly don't enjoy as much as this cover, does manage to mix in a fair mount of modern production into his generally retro positioning.
posted by beisny at 7:00 AM on March 2, 2011


I preferred the Franz Ferdinand cover so your goof is not without its supporters.
posted by safetyfork at 7:11 AM on March 2, 2011


I suspect it may be that Bruno Mars just isn't self-aware enough for irony.
posted by mykescipark at 7:20 AM on March 2, 2011


Those headphones, in case your wondering? My askmi question was answered:

Beyerdynamic DT100's
posted by forallmankind


I got a pair of those, and realized that they are ubiquitous, not for great sound quality, but for several other reasons: a) they come in white, girls especially appreciate that, if their image is being recorded, b) they are comfortable for long sessions because they don't touch your ear, c) the hard shell and close fit eliminate most of the instrumental bleed-through when over-dubbing vocals. But seemingly the key point is that they can playback at volumes far above the threshold of pain or hearing damage -- a lot of musicians have partial deafness, thus the classic gesture to the engineer: point at your headphones and signal "UP! UP!" with your thumb.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:26 AM on March 2, 2011


demiurge posted a link tot he real cover. WOW. That's really good!
posted by no1nose at 7:35 AM on March 2, 2011


The idea that stripping the jaw-dropppingly well-produced pop songs we get today down to their bare melody and a few naked chords will magically reveal the true and beautiful essence that had always been obscured strikes me as... misguided.

Right on. I actually really hate this cover; it's tepid and soulless and uninteresting. The original may be tuned and quantized until it's more machine than (wo)man, but it knows how to kick you right in the brain stem, which is what that song is meant to do.

On a semi-related note, I don't listen to much modern "country," these days, but I came across Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" a few weeks ago. It's a raging pop song that got produced as a lukewarm country ballad and it sucks. Crank that up a few clicks, replace the pedal steel with some searing synths, give the singers a few cups of coffee and you've got yourself twice the song.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:41 AM on March 2, 2011


Curse you and your juicy cover links that I can't watch for several hours until I get home from work!
posted by dry white toast at 7:46 AM on March 2, 2011


I have to say though, that I really object to this tired industry of the acoustic cover, and I don't care any more whether they're ironic or sincere.

As long as the original version wasn't acoustic, I'm always behind a cover that has a radically different musical style. It's all in the delivery, not in Electro Pop -> Acoustic.
posted by demiurge at 7:48 AM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


two or three cars parked under the stars: "We live in a wondrous age for pop music and it makes me sad that so many people don't seem to be able to appreciate the awesomeness of what's going on, and cling instead to all these empty gestures in the direction of Soulfulness and Authenticity. I realise that some people just like the sound of acoustic instruments, and that's fine. And I realise that picking up your guitar is the simplest and most straightforward way of paying tribute to a song that you genuinely admire. But I definitely get the impression that a lot of music fans and some artists think the skills and aesthetic sensibilities involved in contemporary pop production are somehow beneath them, and that's a shame."

I don't think that is what this is about. There is a (genuine) concern that commercialization tends to strip away the musicality of some performers in some contexts. California Gurls is actually a pretty decent song, but the seemingly extraneous addition of Snoop and the modulation on Katy Perry's voice are a little off-putting. Covering the song can (and often is) about revealing the underlying authenticity there - you can't make lemonade without lemons, as it were. Nobody's going to be playing Bruno Mars' cover on the radio or saying it's the definitive version of the song (though, arguably, Johnny Cash's completely acoustic, slowed-down, not-heavily produced version of Hurt has become the definitive version of that song). But the cover is worth listening to once or twice.

Also, the phenomenon of lusting after what a song would sound like without the pop polish has been around at least since there was a Phil Spector to complain about.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:51 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


KT Tunstall's cover of Bloc Party's "The Prayer" on Live Lounge is amazing. It converts a poppy tune on how to get laid by dancing well into a beautifully anguished soulful and visceral song on the need for self-love and that love's manifestation in justified, righteous ambition.

At least that's how I heard it. God she has an amazing voice
posted by lalochezia at 9:00 AM on March 2, 2011


lalochezia, I'm pretty sure the Bloc Party original is an anguished and visceral song about needing drugs to have social confidence. Which is not to say the KT Tunstall version isn't also good.
posted by Summer at 9:12 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love pop music and I love innovative cover songs. I get kind of twitchy when people start saying that a stripped cover is necessarily better. Like the Florence and the Machine cover of "Halo", which is different but I strenuously object to calling it "better".
posted by Danila at 9:18 AM on March 2, 2011


Damn, I was hoping this was going to be Bruno Mars covering the Magnetic Fields.
posted by verstegan at 9:23 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


two or three cars parked under the stars: “I would actually have been interested to hear it. I have to say though, that I really object to this tired industry of the acoustic cover, and I don't care any more whether they're ironic or sincere. The idea that stripping the jaw-dropppingly well-produced pop songs we get today down to their bare melody and a few naked chords will magically reveal the true and beautiful essence that had always been obscured strikes me as... misguided. Electricity is real magic. Machines are real magic. Dr Luke and Stargate are real wizards. We live in a wondrous age for pop music and it makes me sad that so many people don't seem to be able to appreciate the awesomeness of what's going on, and cling instead to all these empty gestures in the direction of Soulfulness and Authenticity. I realise that some people just like the sound of acoustic instruments, and that's fine. And I realise that picking up your guitar is the simplest and most straightforward way of paying tribute to a song that you genuinely admire. But I definitely get the impression that a lot of music fans and some artists think the skills and aesthetic sensibilities involved in contemporary pop production are somehow beneath them, and that's a shame. I wish that more artists would do more radical and involved and production-intense covers - not on radio shows like these of course, but maybe on compilations like Guilt by Association 1 and 2, instead of relying on the tired assumption that wall-to-wall acoustic guitars somehow make things more interesting, instead of less so.”

I agree completely. However, to every rule there seems to be an exception. I think the difference is made by the fact that the guitarist there is one of the greatest living guitarists of our age.
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 AM on March 2, 2011



lalochezia, I'm pretty sure the Bloc Party original is an anguished and visceral song about needing drugs to have social confidence. Which is not to say the KT Tunstall version isn't also good.


That interpretation's probably correct! The poppiness & video confused me.....
posted by lalochezia at 10:41 AM on March 2, 2011


Ha! You are one sick character, verstegan.
posted by queensissy at 10:57 AM on March 2, 2011


The reason why I enjoy cover songs, especially when they are re-interpreted, is that they reveal the strength of the song and the song writer(s) by the cover artist. I know a lot of people who will bag on, say, a Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen song because of the vocal performance/genre associations of the song, only to totally love the same song in a cover version. That's the essential truth of the song right there, when it doesn't matter who sings it or how its arranged, because the song is still solid and good.

The stripping down/"unplugged" trend has, I think, its roots in the tendency of many contemporary pop songs to be over-produced. Most artists will try to pull back the layers to try and find the hook that got buried under auto-tuning and the needless addition of a guest vocalist/rapper. Bruno Marrs stripped down version of "California Gurls" reveals SO much more about the song than Katy Perry's original version. The best cover artists, however peel back the layers, and THEN put their own layers of performance and production on it. The Corrine Baily Rae cover of "Steady As She Goes" and Florence & The Machine's version of "Halo" are perfect examples of this latter point.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:12 PM on March 2, 2011


« Older Annie & Mac are a talented, independent duo from V...  |  Talk Radio's Alex Jones, the M... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments