Song covers can be pretty fun! When artists work to put their own spin on music that they did not originally make, it’s bound to occasionally come up with some interesting, maybe even revelatory, results. For example, how about an alt synth-pop trio doing a rendition of a punk-turned-groove-rock band’s material?

So, a little programming note: Next Sunday June 17th, I’m going to the first of two days of The Radio 104.5 11th Birthday Celebration with my girlfriend, and although there are numerous bands on the bill—whoo Portugal. The Man, and we both think some Thirty Seconds to Mars ought to be fun—our main draw was that CHVRCHES (canonically pronounced as “chuh-vurr-chizz,” pronounce that V, FYI) would be there, so we’d get to see them live!! Thus, in celebration and anticipation, the music posts this week will be in tribute to them.

Moving on...

triple j Like A Version
CHVRCHES
“Do I Wanna Know?”

I love that there exists a segment on some Australian radio station entirely dedicated to having bands and artists come on board to perform covers of others’ songs. And that a bunch of them get uploaded to their YouTube channel for all the world to hear. That was how I heard this two-worlds-collide gem.

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The Arctic Monkeys are a pretty solid band, and the original “Do I Wanna Know?” is quite the nice chill yet groovy song. Its main weapon, the anchor and through-line that holds the whole thing together, is an excellent guitar riff looping throughout most of the track, from which the rest of song sprouts forth.

So what does CHVRCHES do? Throw away that fundamental riff almost entirely. As one naturally does.

They keep the chill rhythm going with a slow and sparse drum machine beat, and Lauren Mayberry’s singing mostly keeps the same melody that Alex Turner had on the original. However, in place of that central riff is an entirely new chord progression, played on synthesizers, that nonetheless complements the vocals brilliantly.

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It’s the kind of significant departure that illuminates an entirely new side that the song can take on. With those chords, the lyrics have a different emotional dimension to them, as suave desire gets replaced with something a bit more vulnerable.

Oh, as for how the riff is only almost entirely done away with? Well, in the second part of each chorus, Lauren sings those words along with the tune of that original melody, slightly modified. It’s a moment of things coming full circle that is all the more potent by being withheld as long and often as it is.

This whole musical interpretation just fits so well, really.


RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.