One thing that I like about covers is that you can take a song that people know, and do something very different with it. You can re-make the song to reveal a new emotional palette, allowing the listener to simultaneously experience something familiar and something novel. This tune, originally by Foster the People, is a perfect illustration:
The song is about violence in youth culture, and has a very upbeat and “pop” feel. Such a juxtaposition is actually quite interesting – it was the same thing that made the movie Natural Born Killers so affecting. Sadly, there appears to be a real tendency for people to skip over the lyrical content in favour of the fun nature of the song, resulting in people bopping along merrily while singing the words “all the other kids with the pumped up kicks better run, outrun my gun” – not exactly a happy sentiment.
I have been looking at ways of expanding my own musical arsenal. With that in mind, I tried to do a few things with this song. First, I put down the pick and tried to use the guitar as a sound board rather than a strummed instrument – the delay effect really helped with that. Second, I used my voice in a new way, trying to build intensity with breathiness rather than volume. Finally, I split the viola solo into two parts, giving the song a lot of time to breathe.
I’m very happy with the result. I hope you are too!
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