Two Indie Rock Singer/Songwriter Ladies Cover R&B Songs

Hear The Art

Pink Nasty – “Burn” (Left-click to Download mp3)
About once every two months I get a craving to listen to some Usher slow jams and wonder why Confessions isn’t on my iPod, then I realize it was one of those Sony BMG rootkit discs loaded with spyware, which prevented me from ripping it. That drives me to try to illegally download a CD I already own, which I eventually forget because I don’t have the patience to wait eight hours to unlawfully procure something I should be able to legally grab in a matter of minutes. It’s very frustrating.

What does this have to do with Austin-based singer/songwriter Pink Nasty? It’s usually hearing this cover of “Burn” that triggers those Usher cravings. Hearing her recontextualize this R&B song into something that sounds very adult alternative, like something that would sound at home playing after an epic Dawson-Pacey-Joey love triangle showdown makes me think about two things:

1) A lot of urban pop tracks are really not that far removed from contemporary country, which is interesting because there is virtually no crossover between fans of those genres. Maybe my memory is failing me (and it’s entirely possible, as I paid these genres pretty much zero mind for several years), but I haven’t spotted this kind of convergence since All 4 One and John Michael Montgomery both had a hit with “I Swear.” This could definitely happen again. If you’re telling me “When It Was Me” by Paula DeAnda isn’t waiting for some country chick to knock it out of the park, you’re out of your mind.

2) Maybe the ubiquity of “Burn” during the summer of 2004 had less to do with Usher’s voice, personality or abs and more to do with it being, at its core, just a damned good song, which is something I would’ve never guessed until I heard this cover.

Mara Carlyle – “1Thing/Hey” (Left-click to download mp3)
In much the same way, I always figured the only appealing thing—and don’t get me wrong, it is a very appealing thing—about Amerie’s “1 Thing” was the impeccable Rich Harrison beat. Amerie’s headache-inducing terrier-yip vocals on this song always drive me bonkers, but I never changed the radio station any of the thousands of times I heard it during the early part of 2005, and that had everything to do with the drums, man.

You might have heard Mara Carlyle’s solo ukulele version of “Game for Fools” at the end of Jamie Lidell’s remix album, Multiply Additions (which you can and should cop on the cheap if you get a chance). Here, she turns the Amerie song into a slinky makeout joint, ditching the hyperactive beat altogether, instead, matching it against “Hey,” by The Pixies. Surprisingly enough, it totally works. Amerie’s version is all about nervous sexual tension, while Mara Carlyle’s is all about lust and I definitely prefer the latter. Regardless, Carlyle’s cover made me realize there’s actually a song in here. It also made me reconsider the original, which is something any good cover should aspire to do.

Tuesday March 20th 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Music
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