Songs Of The Day 11/15/2014: Four Queen Covers


Quarterly Covers Report: This is the last day of the last Quarterly Covers Report of 2014, and I felt like doing something spectacular and fabulous. In that course of spectacular and fabulous thought my mind usually turns to Freddie Mercury, who shuffled off this mortal and woefully insufficient coil 23 years ago this coming November 24. My unending affection for Queen, in spite of and sometimes because of their flaws (you know, like "Body Language"), roused me to scour the net for four great renderings of some of their greatest hits.

I found two great renderings. But you're still getting four songs. Starting with:


Beach House, "Play The Game": "Play the Game" is like the Robbie Rist of Queen's singles: It's only after seeing him by accident on reruns that you remember Rist was Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch. Nobody requests "Play the Game" by Queen, even though it's entirely in step with their most recognizable formulae. It's also an important song because on all of their albums before The Game Queen made a big point of mentioning somewhere in the liner notes that their albums were made without the assistance of any synthesizers whatsoever. It was a big point of pride for them, a pre-emptive fist in the air for their hard rock fans. Then The Game comes out, and they somewhat sheepishly say in the liner notes "This album includes the first appearance of a Synthesizer (an Oberheim OBX) on a Queen album." And when it finally shows up halfway through "Play the Game," holy crap does it show up. It had to be inevitable, 'cause Brian May's an astrophysicist. This sweetened cover of "Play the Game" is from Baltimore dream pop band Beach House, and it's got synths all over the place.

Shoot, just realized I'm gonna get hate mail from the Robbie Rist fan club. I did not mean to cast any aspersions on Mr. Rist whatsoever. Let it be said I admired his work in Sharknado. Then again, I admired everyone's work in Sharknado. Moving on.


Xiu Xiu with Michael Gira, "Under Pressure": Jamie Stewart is the most panicked singer in contemporary music, so this duet with Swans' Michael Gira is almost as unsettling as anything else in Xiu Xiu's repertoire. I enjoy Stewart and Gira's interplay here. Kind of sounds like a Potter-Dumbledore relationship. Gira's trying to calm him down, possessing just enough measured calm to acknowledge the difficulty of what's going on, letting Stewart have his psychotic meltdown, even letting him have unfettered access to the saxophone cabinet, the way Dumbledore let Potter destroy his office near the end of Order of the Phoenix. Stellar work, gentlemen, and I'm happy to inform you your insurance covers this. Unlike:


Snoop Dogg, "We Will Rock You": So this is from a 1999 quickie comp called Fox Sports Presents: Game Time!. Look, I'm just glad it wasn't Fox News Presents: News Time! although I understand Sean Hannity does a sublime version of "Dance: Ten; Looks: Three." But who doesn't, really? Somehow Snoop's calm, meditative, medicated delivery results in a more even-tempered, level assurance that his team is going to prevail. There's no need to get all worked up over it, they're just going to dominate. Snoop is Bill Belichick to Freddie Mercury's Jim Harbaugh, in other words. There'll be no drop-kicking the clipboard in the referee's direction at Snoop's house. But there will be baked goods. Because getting baked is the best way to experience the finale:


Michael V., "May Isa Na Namang Kumagat Sa Alikabok": All right, all right, just stop it with the letters and phone calls, okay? Here's the Tagalog-language version of "Another One Bite the Dust" that you've all been begging for. It's from Michael V., a popular Filipino comedian and entertainer. I'm not familiar with the structure or characteristics of the Tagalog language, but it sure sounds like they need a bottomless supply of syllables more than the English do. The chorus in this one is a true calisthenic achievement. My tongue hurt just listening to it.

That's it for Quarterly Covers Report week. Maybe we didn't break the internet, but count yourself lucky not to have seen me balance a champagne glass on my ass. That was a long time ago, man. I needed the money.

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