Posts Tagged ‘Nevermind’

This month marked the 17th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s passing. Regarding Nirvana covers, most people gravitate towards “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are.” The rap duo RedLand threw a curveball by reinterpreting “In Bloom.” They use the chrous to fuel a narrative on the aimless who derive their behavior from the hollow images of popular culture. People tend to forget that the best cover songs are never a line by line copy of the original. This is where RedLand succeeds. I’ll definitely be on the look out for their future work.

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 “With the lights out/ It’s less dangerous/ Here we are now/ Entertain us/ I feel stupid/ And contagious…”

Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s a song that legitimately ushered in a revolution in popular music through alternative rock, and that impact can still be felt today. Someone attempting to remake it has to be endowed with a distinct disregard for other people’s opinions. That cavalier attitude is exactly what J*Davey tapped into when they decided to create this highly original, ethereal interpretation of Kurt Cobain’s timeless anthem of angst and rebellion.

“Nirvana, as well as this song, embodies a realism and ‘fuck-it’ mechanism that Jack and I attempt to create in everything we do” explained producer Brook D’Leau.

This isn’t the first time J*DaVeY has reinterpreted classic records. Several years ago, they reimagined A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation.” But with that record, the group worked with the same sound and samples as the original. With the Nirvana selection, J*DaVey pushed themselves further by morphing the original into an entirely different genre, highlighted by kittenish vocals over a pulsing, computerized rhythm. The presentation of the track is completely different, devoid of the aggressive guitar licks, and the combative indifference of Cobain’s powerful voice. And yet, the power of the late icon’s words still shine through for the listener.

“We’re all insignificant in the grand scheme and feeling low becomes the high,” says J*DaVeY. “[I’m] Not sure if I’ve heard any other song that tongues the cheek of that concept so brilliantly.”

Beautiful or blasphemy? You decide.

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Kanye West remains defiant in the face of what he deems as cultural hypocrisy and creative censorship regarding the decision of retail outlets to ban his new album cover.

Retail chains such as Walmart advised they would not sell the album due to the album using the painted image of a fanged phoenix/human hybrid straddling a shirtless, warped version of Kanye West.

The surreal image ties into the album title, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West counters that such album cover images were a staple of  rock artists during the 1970s. Over 30 years later, he questions why society has become more restrictive of musical expression.

“In the 70s album covers had actual nudity. It’s so funny that people forget that. Everything has been so commercialized now,” Kanye wrote on Twitter. “In all honesty … I really don’t be thinking about Wal-Mart when I make my music or album covers #Kanyeshrug! I wanna sell albums but not at the expense of my true creativity.”

For a specific example, Kanye West noted the cover of Nirvana seminal 1991 sophomore album Nevermind, which depicted a naked newborn child swimming underwater. The cover has become iconic in music and sold over 10 million copies.

“So Nirvana can have a naked human being on they cover but I can’t have a painting of a monster with no arms and a polka dot tail and wings?” Kanye asked rhetorically.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is scheduled for release on November 22.

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Very good argument from Mr. West. A lot of album covers from the 70s were very over the top (mainly because nearly every artist was high back then). But Kanye should also realize he’s simply the latest in a long list of artists who’ve come under controversy for provocative album covers.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared naked on the cover for Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins. That album was banned in several areas before retailers compromised by wrapping the album before displaying it. Walmart initially pulled the “offensive” card on Nevermind‘s cover, too. But because it was such a blockbuster seller, the label began placing stickers over the baby’s genitals. And even on their next LP, In Utero, the band again had to fight with Walmart after concerns were raised about the back cover having painted depictions of fetuses and scattered body parts.

The closest comparison to ‘Ye’s cover would be David Bowie’s Diamond Dog, which has the singer drawn on the cover with two hybrid, female dogs/humans. The issue was that you could see the genitals of the hybrid creature on the right. To quell the controversy, the label decided to airbrush the offending part out.

Ironically on soul music side, I don’t think there was much dispute with the highly sexualized covers the Ohio Players used throughout the 70s. In fact, that was a signature on their entire careers.

It’d be nice to see Kanye stand his ground. Albums cover can become legendary depending on the quality of the album. The simple solution would be to wrap in a special casing. I personally think it’s his best cover since Late Registration.