When Britpop did Britney

This week, a long overdue return to Lazy Sunday duties for Martpol, who looks at some unlikely rock covers…

I’ve recently copied my entire collection of CDs onto my shiny new laptop, in preparation for something else shiny and new – a 160GB iPod which, absurdly, can hold the whole lot in a piece of plastic half the size of a single disc and not much thicker. Job done (after about two months), I shuffled the lot and pressed play, wondering what array of forgotten delights would present themselves. Disappointingly – considering that I’ve spend a great deal of time and money widening my tastes – the first ten tracks that emerged were all white and male, and most of them from the 90s.

I have decided not to let this get me down, and instead to play beat the hideous male oppressors at their own game, by surveying the territory of those who step outside their natural comfort zone. Here, then, are four lots of indie blokes, each throwing caution to the wind by taking on a feminine classic. Weeping is unlikely, but honestly, it’s OK.

First, let’s go for the ultimate male angst band, Radiohead, and their deadly serious take on a Bond theme originally sung by Carly Simon. You are free to imagine Thom Yorke as Roger Moore’s nemesis while you watch.

Travis carved out a career from landfill indie with dirge-like choruses. This dalliance with Britney Spears, then, is almost certainly their best work.

Next, the Flaming Lips. Yes, they’re wearing the usual silly costumes, there are plenty of psychedelic accoutrements, and Kylie’s floor-filling classic is imbued with a bizarre sense of imminent drama that entirely changes the song’s aesthetic. But although Wayne Coyne is clearly enjoying himself, he isn’t taking the mickey. He’s a lover, not a fighter.

Finally, something a little more frivolous, and certainly the least likely on paper. Elbow playing Destiny’s Child, accompanied by cut-out cats in flat caps.

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9 thoughts on “When Britpop did Britney

  1. russellworks@gmail.com'
    ian russell
    March 27, 2011 at 10:12

    Thanks, I never knew Radiohead had a comfort zone. Fear not, there’s always an antidote.

  2. martinjpollard@hotmail.com'
    March 27, 2011 at 11:29

    Ian, that is superb. In an odd coincidence, I’ve just transferred everything to the new iPod and tried a repeat experiment, and Straight Outta Compton was one of the very first tracks to emerge.

  3. info@shopcurious.com'
    March 27, 2011 at 12:06

    I’m not too sure about the covers, but the flaming lips curious cosplay costumes and Elbow’s quirky cut out cats are certainly different…

  4. russellworks@gmail.com'
    ian russell
    March 27, 2011 at 13:03

    Talking of covers…I was listening to something about Scottish pop the other day and there was mention of a Scots band which covered Petula Clark’s Downtown (as written by Tony Hatch, don’t you know. Him what penned the Crossroads theme – not to be confused with Robert Johnson’s much covered Crossroads). I was going to look it up but completely forgot the band’s name! Any idea? The original was one of my mum and dad’s favourites.

  5. Gaw
    March 27, 2011 at 20:30

    I once sat next to Fran Healy (lead singer of Travis) on a long flight and he was lovely company. My guess is that Thom Yorke wouldn’t be – apart from anything else I’d be worried he was going to wet his pants.

    I very much enjoyed the cats cover of Elbow’s version of Destiny’s Child. The singing with fag in mouth was especially impressive.

  6. andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
    March 29, 2011 at 09:42

    Yes I wouldn’t want to be stuck with Thom Yorke anywhere for long. Musical genius though…don’t you think Nobody Does It Better resembles High and Dry in tone? And Travis’ first two records were good (the third was awful – did they do a fourth?)

    Another nice oddity is the Manic Street Preachers doing the Theme from MASH http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjBIJXXZRBQ

  7. martinjpollard@hotmail.com'
    March 29, 2011 at 10:32

    Interesting comparison, Brit. But I reckon you’ve got Thom wrong. I bet he does a real line in saucy seaside postcard humour.

    By the way, what do you reckon of The King of Limbs? Opinions seem divided. It’s clearly no In Rainbows – their greatest achievement for my money – but it will probably coax me into superlatives somewhere along the line.

    Travis’ first record was good, you’re right – and the b-sides from their early singles were fantastic (they were late Britpop, after all – everyone was doing better b-sides than a-sides). The Man Who is terribly dull apart from the singles, though.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      March 29, 2011 at 13:27

      Not got King of Limbs yet. As with In Rainbows, I’m waiting til they release it on CD so I can buy it for a tenner in Asda and play it in the car.

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