Showing posts with label Performance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Performance. Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Covers and Kawehi

TCS - Robot Heart: Heart-Shaped Box - Nirvana (covered by Kawehi) from Kawehi on Vimeo
Music covers and controversy go hand in hand. And I'm more a culprit of keeping this couple alive more than anyone. One of my first blog posts on here, in fact, referred to Leona Lewis's attempt (and I wouldn't call it much more than that) at Trent Reznor's (Nine Inch Nails) 'Hurt'. An undeniably great voice but the take was nothing much than a commercial butchering.

Yet where most disdain lies is actually in the use of sampling rather than covers. When artists take the catchy  choruses etc. of others, contemporary ignoramuses the world over consider these defiant fresh hits amazing when, actually, the only thing that begs any attention is what was snatched from their predecessors. Tupac did it with 'Changes', taking Bruce Hornsby's iconic piano work, and I still struggle to grasp what Derulo did to Imogen Heap. Shocking. What's even more frustrating is most of these arguably distasteful covers place central dominance on the previous work they're sampling and, by doing this, arrogantly imply it's theirs, leaving our poor naive listeners appreciating the large matter of the song that actually isn't the work of their jumped-up city boy with more snapbacks than talent.

They're not necessarily bad songs, but I think what pisses most people off, certainly including myself, is more the lack of appreciation for the parents that nurtured some of these ugly babies. If it's your bag, fair play, but hark back to the old boys once in a while, do your research: albeit it's often to no avail to our younger generations, but it's those musicians who did the real groundwork.

Sorry, I digress. Covers, not sampling. Clearly with covers the original work cannot surpass unacknowledged which is always refreshing. And the obvious beauty is getting to hear great music in a different light. For me, what's paramount to a cover is that, for all the new takes that ensue, the central element of the work should still be that of the original.

And this is where my newly found friend Kawehi comes into play. I discovered her through Esquire a couple of days ago and, oh my. It's been relentlessly on loop. I'm a sucker for loving artists who work with Ableton as I can truly relate to how complex it is to progressively build such a rich depth. And she's hit the nail on the head. On the first listen you'll wonder where it's going; but as it all builds together it'll delightfully hit you like a tonne of bricks. And then to top it all off, she's got one hell of a pair of lungs on her.

I write this in reference to her take on Nirvana and the late Cobain's 'Heart Shaped Box' (above). She's covered one of what Esquire described as "the uncoverable" and simply does so from her home...halfway through a large bottle of red. Her voice is slightly unrefined in places and if you listen closely you can catch her out; the same goes with her keys being oh-so slightly out of time here and there. But hear me out, I'm not just being pedantic: this is what's great about her covers (and sorry, I know it's petty I'm raising these tiny faults at all). To me, her covers become all the more warming through this relaxed approach. You get the impression it's her pleasure that prevails over her listeners. Late evenings, wine and a jam. I remember doing very much the same thing when I recorded DJ sets in my teenage bedroom with friends...although I daresay - as much as I may like to flatter myself - my old techno collection didn't sound half as epic as this.

Seek her out. She's yet another musical Youtuber, but unlike her fellow try-harders, she not only allows a different sound to the work, she let's you know you're still listening to the original which, if you ask me, is what it's all about. Whilst you often come away from covers thinking "God, I prefer the original", with Kawehi it's more likely to be "God, I love Nirvana".

Kawehi's website can be found here. She's covered a lot of other great work which is definitely worth checking out also.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

" actually hurts"

The final three contestants. Source;

After watching the first part of the 2011 X Factor final I come away frustrated. This kind of show is certainly not something I normally choose to follow but considering it was the final I thought I'd watch it for the craic and also to see what the public and the judges (if you can call them that) think talent is. This is not the talent that I had in mind. Nonetheless, I suppose it did provide some form of entertainment and a few cheap laughs (at them, certainly not with).

The entire show seems to become more of a sellout each year. After the ridiculously long build up, all of a sudden presenter Dermot O'Leary completely unnecessarily dances onto the stage at the start which surely entitles anyone to snigger at this pathetic entrance. This is nearly as laughable as the biographical follow-ups of each contestant which seem to take up more time than the singing itself. Popularity seems to overwhelm the so-called talent. Perhaps this is because these generic mimers-in-the-making use this opportunistic gap to swallow the truth that skill is something that prevails with the people they aspire to be.

I was also following Twitter whilst watching the show; reading the witty remarks provided me with more entertainment than the show itself I daresay. But what certainly didn't amuse me was the ignorance as to Leona Lewis' song choice. Let me state this loud and clear. Admittedly, Johnny Cash's version of 'Hurt' is spectacular (and some may argue the best) but it was not the original. This honour lies with Trent Reznor, founder of industrial metal band Nine Inch Nails. Admittedly it is only opinion when I think that that stage (and it's spoon-fed audience) were not worthy of such music, but I don't think I'm alone when I worry about the original song being buried underneath nothing more than the disposable Christmas hit that Leona Lewis will turn it into.

I don't deny that most of the contestants can sing (let us not forget low-life Cocozza, however), but talent is dynamic and a qualified audience want something fresh. What nearly all of the contestants lack is a real identity in their skill; Amelia Lily might as well be a tribute act to Christina Aguilera for Christ's sake. Surely people must be bored of this by now. And even the thickest of people must have noticed that a good portion of these 'winners' seem to be going nowhere; I read somewhere that when 2010 winner Matt Cardle performed on the 2011 opening night it was the first time he had been on stage since he had won the final a year ago! That's real talent right there folks. But even if you do enjoy this show for what it is (rather than watching it to laugh at it like myself) please, please appreciate good music when you hear it and never assume that the cover is the original; it turns artists who actually have real talent into unsung heroes.

@earlywill: "Not sure if Leona Lewis is trying to butcher the NIN version or the amazing Johnny Cash version - but it actually hurts."

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Hugh Laurie at the 100 Club, Oxford Street (21/11/11)

Someone told me not so long ago to never underestimate the power of Twitter. At first I really didn't 'click' (forgive the pun) with how it worked let alone the actual point of it. But its true beauty revealed itself to me last Thursday night. Being a fresh 'tweeter' I'm still building a decent list of people to follow, one of which I'll never regret following; '@HughLaurieBlues'. A simple announcement that Hugh was performing in London on short notice blessed me with one of the best and most influential nights of my life. Having just released his debut album 'Let Them Talk', an album of which I'm extremely fond of, I knew that I'd already made my mind up about going.

So there I was at 9.29AM on Friday morning, sat in front of my computer hitting F5 continuously until the words 'Buy Now' graced me with their presence. I was lucky to get two tickets and my friend and I were excited from then on. But of course the real excitement came when I was stood in the queue on Oxford Street surrounded by bustling festive shoppers and christmas lights. I felt privileged, VIP if you like, when I saw the amount of people that were in the queue and almost wanted to question whether we were in the right place. We were.

I would certainly go to The 100 Club again. Underground, dark and gloomy meant atmospheric and certainly characteristic. Hundreds of pictures of famous past performances virtually wallpapered the walls. Mr. Laurie himself commented between songs that it was a true honour to play in such a musically significant place and I can certainly say it was an honour to merely be part of an audience there. He played around 2 hours with his extremely talented band and it was no surprise that the addicted crowd went wild for an encore which was soon to be welcomed with a massive applause when he returned with his band.

I could go on further and explain his set list and so on, but what I feel I should document is not so much the specifics, but the pure feeling of community and friendly atmosphere. There was no pushing and shoving, no impatience at the bar; just being at this place I think was already enough for everyone. There wasn't this attitude that you had to be so close you could feel his breath. A row in front of me sat Rowan Atkinson, but no one pestered him during the show for autographs and hand shakes. It seemed to me that everyone just respected that, collectively, we all wanted to have a good time and appreciated what I think everyone already knew was going to be a memorable evening. Of course, Mr. Laurie's impressive wit and personality made his performance very sociable, joking and chatting with us and his band. A lovely touch also was that, out of his own pocket I must add, he provided everyone with a nip of scotch so all could be involved together in a toast (thanks Hugh). Such a sociable and warming performance I imagine is hard to find these days and there are not many of these opportunites, making my friend and I feel truly privileged.

As I mentioned in my first post, London is an exciting city to me and this puts the icing on the cake. I think subconsciously this is why I even thought about blogging. It's because now I'm in London I feel that I've actually got something decent to write about. A completely distinctive night but hopefully not the last time I'll feel this reflective during the rest of my time in this town. So thanks Hugh; maybe one day I'll return you that drink.