minstrels and maestros

Music Monday: North American Independence Special

Actually, this really has nothing to do with either Independence Day in the United States or Canada Day in … I forget which country that is. The real theme of this #MM is quirky artists and songs. So, get your inner Zooey Deschanel in gear and enjoy.

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1. Gone Baby Gone, by Gnarls Barkley

First up are a pair of songs from Gnarls Barkley and The Violent Femmes, both widely-accepted as artistically quirky bands. The twist here is they’re singing each others’ songs. Okay, that’s not an M. Knight twist but, hey, there it is. First up, the bigger release of the Gnarls boys covering Gone Daddy Gone.

(I prefer this to the creepy Peeping Tom music video)

– – –

2. Crazy, by The Violent Femmes

And, now, for something completely different-er, the lesser known cover of Crazy by The Violent Femmes. Before you decide which one is ‘better’ just remember that both covers are meant to stylistically differ from the originals. Perhaps the previous cover more closely matches the original but, even so, they’re not meant to compete. They are meant to change the vibe and what Gnarls Barkley did slightly, The Violent Femmes pushed further, intonating the cusp of actual mental precariousness … which is pretty much a Violent Femmes thing.

– – –

3. Mama Nem, by Tech N9ne

Next up is a gentleman by the name of Tech N9ne (possibly not his real name, or so rumour has it). This machine gun vocalist has been all over the map thematically doing the normal baller-style rap music, quirky things like Jellysickle, self-aggrandizing riffs, and weird interludes between album tracks but then he put out a track like this (Mama Nem) that just melts your goddamn heart.

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4. Oh, So Quiet, by björk

And here we come to an artist the world-at-large knows is quirky, mostly because it’s so ingrained in her DNA that she probably refuses to use a knife and fork normally because it’s just way too normal for her. She was a freak long before Gaga came along and became the Freak du Jour (just making a point for the YouTube population who just don’t seem think anyone was weird before Gaga arrived). Here’s my favourite little borderline-psychotic, björk, doing her own version of a song which has been covered repeatedly since 1951.

– – –

5. Nerd Anthem, by Marian Call

Finally — well, looking below it’s hardly final but it was when I first wrote this — we’ve got the current Musical Queen of Geeks and Browncoat Matriarch, Marian Call. If there’s any one thing I like it’s eclecticism (see what I did thar?) which may come as a surprise if you, um, didn’t know the title of this blog. She’s done songs which people describe as anything from folk music to theatrical to jazz to cabaret to … stuff which involves playing the typewriter as a musical instrument. Seriously, there’s a typewriter in the Nerd Anthem:

– – –

Bonus Track

Note: I stuck with mostly bigger names because the less famous you go the exponentially more quirky and multitudinous you get until you’re stuck somewhere between folk punk and heavy metal polka.

As a bonus track for this week’s HFR Top 5 (he said, implying he has done a consistent job of making this a weekly entry), I present Cee-Lo Green guest starring in a Prince concert, singing the aforementioned Gnarls Barkley hit Crazy. It is possibly the most underused instance of guitar god Prince but, as far as quirky artists go, I’m pretty sure he is welcome company.

Honorable mentions: Edie Brickell, Sly & The Family Stone, Cyndi Lauper, Annie Lennox, They Might Be Giants, and some woman named Tori, um, Tori Spelling, no, um, Tori, Tori … Swift? No, that’s not it. Well, maybe someone could help me out with that.



About Angelo Barovier

I was born. I'll be around for a while. Then I won't.


3 thoughts on “Music Monday: North American Independence Special

  1. LOVED the cover (of crazy) by violent femmes (who i ALREADY love anyway)… and was surprised at how much i liked cee – lo’s cover of the same ;O

    Posted by jaye Cherry | July 2, 2012, 3:44 pm
  2. I need to add my list to this, just because.

    Let’s start with the lady that got honourable mention above. One of my favourite artists ever, Tori Amos. When it comes to quirky it isn’t just her music, but also her personality. The song I chose for her has more to do with the operator of this blog than anything else. Yes, that is a piano in the song. Really, it is.

    Tori Amos, “If 6 Was 9” (Jimi Hendrix cover)

    Next is a funny little punk band called The Mr. T Experience. With a name like that how could they not be quirky. The only constant in the band is Dr. Frank (Frank Portman) who writes and plays guitar. Most of the songs are comical rather than serious such as “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend”. If you like this song you should check them out, but they are a punk band, so not all their tunes are acoustic like this one.

    The Mr. T Experience, “Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You?”

    Next I am going with one of the greatest bands of all time and possibly one of their most known songs, Queen, I really shouldn’t have to say anything else about them because you should know them, so I won’t.

    Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”

    One of the earliest electronic bands, Kraftwerk were also incredibly quirky. These guys were incredibly influential and produced a great deal of their own instruments. Many of the instruments used today in electronic music have their foundation in the toys built by these guys.

    Kraftwerk, “Pocket Calculator”

    Finally I am turning to one of the weirdest and dirtiest collaborations in musical history. Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) and Hecate (Rachael Kozak) were dating at one point and made a small album called Nymphomatriarch. I will let you search on your own how this entire album was made, but needless to say quirky is putting it mildly.

    Venetian Snares and Hecate, “Blood on the Rope”

    Posted by Adam Bernstein | July 5, 2012, 12:05 pm

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