Xtravision in Ashbourne had a box of discounted CDs that I used to trawl through. We used to do laps of the town and it was a regular stop throughout my middle teenage years. When I was about 17, I bought Pharrell’s “In My Mind” album. I think it cost me €6 from the Xtravision bargain bin. It was in a blank case with no album booklet.
It was a pivotal album in my musical brain development. I think I knew that it wasn’t a perfect album. Pharrell’s lyrics were often lame or a bit jarring. It was so strange because it’s an incredible piece of production and he obviously understands what sounds cool at a scientific level, but it was very much a transition for him from the producer or featuring artist to being the leading man.
There’s a couple of songs that I love on the album but my favourite has always been “Angel”. I think it’s in part because it’s kind of a sing/rap crossover from Pharrell. The other thing I love is the level of nonsense in the lyrics.
“She got an ass like loaf of bread
Make you want a slice
But she’s the girl, you take her home to mother
But she dont want ya bread
Brother, ya betta think twice (twice)
See, you can see the heat I will be her butter”
I love the idea that he said that and it got past a full team of people. Madness.
It kinda makes sense that the album would have mad shit on it because Pharrell was just on top of the world as a producer. You can hear it in “Angel”. The beats are classic Neptunes beats. The falsetto singing from Pharrell and the harmonies are incredible. The piano verse is super punchy. I think when you can do all that you’re allowed write nonsense lyrics.
You can listen to “Angel” by Pharrell here.
The Daft Punk “Get Lucky” buzz has pretty much worn off at this point and this is as good a time as any to talk about what, I thought, were the best of the billion covers. A piece appeared on the Guardian’s site as a guide to the covers which missed the best and the worst of them.
The standards for what makes a bad “Get Lucky” cover were pretty much set by Linda Martin. As the Guardian guide shows, there were some really crappy covers, but this is the worst that I’ve heard. Embarrassing. Very embarrassing.
Honestly, to make a decent cover, all anyone had to do was not to that. My two favourites were by San Cisco and George Barnett. I think what made them so good were the little vocal changes. George Barnett adds a great woohoo kinda thing on top which really bulks the song out a bit. Listening back to the original, it seems a little empty in comparison. I love Pharrell, but I think George Barnett sings it better. His break down is fantastic and I love the harmonies. My only issue is that he does the vocoder bit, which was also a weak point in the original (credit to Benjamin Finnegan for speaking the truth). It’s just not working for me. His version is a little tricky to find, there seems to have been some video deleting on Youtube, as is the custom. The track starts at 7:00. I picked this video because it’s from his official Youtube account so you can (and should) download the entire mixtape from there. Credit to Sunset in the Rearview as where I first heard of him.
I think I prefer the San Cisco but who knows. I like it for different reasons. It sits in between the original and the Daughter cover that had a lot of buzz. It’s a bit more chilled but it has bongos and bongos are sexy. I originally heard it via Indie Rock Playlist so I didn’t know the back story and then found the Triple J video of it’s performance. It samples N.E.R.D. – “Hypnotize You” (super creepy video…), which is magical. I think Pharrell was the highlight of the whole Daft Punk comeback for me so the more of him the better. The singer also has a mean falsetto so that’s a mega plus.
So those are my picks! There’s a lot of covers so there’s probably tonnes I haven’t heard but I think these’ll take some beating. Lemme know what ya think are the best takes on the track and what makes a cover a good cover.