Some Songs Considered #021: DC invades the Hopscotch Festival and Chromatics cover Cyndi Lauper
Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.
Washington DC Invades Raleigh, NC
by Bryce Rudow (@brycetrudow)
This weekend marks the sixth annual Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, NC.
Founded by a guy named Greg Lowenhagen while he was still an employee at a locally owned alt-weekly, Hopscotch has slowly, with the help of additional investors, built a name for itself over the years as one of the premiere multi-venue, downtown festivals in the country. Past headliners have included everyone from Broken Social Scene to The Flaming Lips to Public Enemy, but the real fun is found in the various day parties, picnics, and jamborees that take place in the sporadic bars, restaurants, and rehearsal spaces that dot Raleigh’s relatively small downtown.
And this year, my hometown of Washington DC has sent three of its best and
brightest loudest to take them all over.
But for all you non-Washingtonians heading down to The Triangle this weekend, it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce you to…
All the studio albums and critical praise in the world can’t properly prepare you for the soul-gripping experience that is seeing Black Clouds in the flesh. The instrumental metal (instrumetal?) band puts on a show that is more felt than heard, with intricate light shows expertly choreographed to their professionally-tight bombastic instrumentation, and their drummer Jimmy Rhodes is one of the best you’ll ever get to see. Trust me, just watch him during their last song. Plus, they’re the only band I’m aware of that incorporates The Great Dictator’s final speech into one of their songs…
GoldLink is the DC metro area’s best known secrets when it comes to hip-hop. Back in April, he released a viciously eclectic album called The God Complex to near-universal acclaim, and in June he joined fellow DC rapper Shy Glizzy on XXL’s annual “Freshman Class” cover. In fact, our very own Julian Kimble wrote a great feature on him for Washington City Paper only a few months ago. If you’re in Raleigh and still alive by 12:30AM on Saturday night, get in the know and check out GoldLink’s set at CAM.
Washington DC is known for its fabled history of hardcore music, and while its popularity in the District has receded in the past decade, there are still a few bands steadfastly holding tight to that sound and, more importantly, that energy. Loud Boyz is one of the area’s most popular punk acts, and their lead-singer Kenny Brown is one of the best showman you’re ever going to see, even if you have no idea what the hell he’s saying half the time.
Chromatics – “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
by Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse)
Reasons Motivating A Band To Record A Cover, Ranked From Highest To Lowest Potential For Irritation:
- The band hopes to generate comedy from the ironic contrast between the persona of the group performing the cover and the content of the song being performed, e.g. the Ben Folds cover of Dr. Dre’s “Bitches Ain’t Shit”
- The band wants to pay homage to one of their influences, or otherwise salute a song that they consider to be generally dope. Upside — Arcade Fire covering “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” with Cyndi Lauper at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2011. Downside — every unlistenable fucking college bar band that thinks they’re being original or innovative by covering “Creep” by Radiohead.
- The band believes that they can reshape the basic skeleton of the song to recontextualize the lyrics and lend them entirely new meaning as a whole, e.g. the CSS cover of Grizzly Bear’s “Knife”, which reimagines the Brooklyn group’s staid chorale as a synthpop flirtation.
Dusky electro savants Chromatics didn’t jump on Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”# for any of the reasons above.
Spanish design house MANGO tapped the Portland outfit to record the cover specifically for their new ad campaign with Kate Moss and Cara Delevingne, and Chromatics was more than happy to oblige, under the condition that they could release the full cover as a single later this month. And for a brand-driven cross-promotional marketing tool, the cover has no business working this well.
The breathy, guarded vocals from frontwoman Ruth Radelet bring out the abiding melancholy in Lauper’s lyrics. The narrator wants to go get her ya-yas out through a night on the town, but the tenderness of the commercial’s cover emphasizes the home life she’s getting away from; a mother and father who belittle and misunderstand her, a house where there’s nothing to do. Beyond the neon synths and iconic girl-power sloganeering lies a potent portrait of teen ennui, not quite a want to have fun, but a need so consumptive it threatens to end the very world if it’s not satisfied. (At least, that’s how it feels when you’re a grounded seventeen-year-old.) Like a blacklight exposing coke residue at a basement rave, Chromatics’ lush synths make visible what was always there and re-assert the edge of earnest emotion in one of the most iconic songs to come out of the ‘80s.
No amount of off-key karaoke renditions from drunken bachelorettes can rob the song of that.
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