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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Best Imitation of Myself

I love cover versions of songs. I'm always worried that the cover won't do the original justice, or that it's so samey they shouldn't have bothered doing it. So many can be terrible, even if the artist doing the cover is brilliant. An example of this is John Martyn's version of Portishead's Glory Box. Ugh. But so many are brilliant.

The above song - Best Imitation of Myself by Ben Folds Five is quite a perky little tune. I'm not a massive fan of them, they're a band I feel I should listen to more and for some reason I never do. Maybe because I'm not excited enough by them. There's nothing that shouts out at me that they're that little bit different. The songs I've heard have all been nice but there's nothing that's made me go WOW and get all passionate.

So, the Ben & Jason cover. Why do I think this works, and perhaps even surpasses the original? I had to make the video myself as I couldn't find a link to the cover anywhere online. To start with Ben Parker has a better voice than Ben Folds. He doesn't struggle so much with the higher notes, and if anyone slips in catches on the way up to or down from their falsetto I'm theirs! The tone of Ben F's voice is quite nasal and this gives the song a somewhat whingy feel; Ben P's clearer tone gets rid of that (a good thing).

The cover has upped the tempo, which makes it less maudlin. I think that works better as it subtly changes the meaning of the lyrics, making them seem more cutting - I swear I was listening, but I started drifting round the part about me acting my age.

Then there's the fact that it's accompanied by a string quartet. It takes the instrumentation of the original and cleverly arranges it for the strings. I'm sure they alter the colour of the chords a little by adding some extra notes here and there. Finally there's the wonderful ending full of sliding chromatics.

Sadly my brain fogginess is preventing me from further comment, but hopefully it'll wake up at a later point.

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