A Cappella Covers


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by Duke University Archives
09 Monday 09th April 2012

main image: Duke University Yearlook

To kick things off, we've got the performance that triggered the conceptualisation of this whole piece: one dude pulling off the theme tune to The Simpsons on his ace. It might be something to do with his 'made for children's TV' air instrument skills or his  totally rad scenery backdrop but something about this warms my heart. Anyone who's ever sung in a choir, played in a band and/or been to music school of some kind will recognise the work that goes into pulling apart a song that's already been written and reducing it to the sum of its melody parts. It turns out The Simpsons theme song is actually rather complicated, huh? [Ed - Hey, it is Danny Elfman!]

We've seen another net sensation tackle a track of the more pop-oriented variety, and make a whole music video to match. This one's for Sisqo's 'Thong Song' and shines out on so many levels. Matt Mulholland, the man giving us his best micro-body rolls here, does well to take on a pop song with a surprisingly rich combination of harmonies and melodies while battling through the task of imitating artificial synthesiser sounds.

The result is mostly ridiculous, but you've got to admire his commitment to getting through the whole thing with a straight face. Singing "shakin' that thang like who's the ish" without breaking down at some point gives him at least ten brownie points in my books.

This next one is really cringey to watch, but worth it for the weird things this man can do with his mouth. Reworking Flux Pavilion's 'I Can't Stop' (yes, the very same one sampled by Kanye and Jay-Z on 'Watch The Throne'), a man known to the internet as Aaronic Stuff picks apart everything but the original vocal sample and clapping sound here. His creepy-as-hell facial expressions and elastic-looking neck make for awkward viewing but there's just two and a half minutes of that to endure.

For a trip back in time to some 90s dance classics, Danish choir Local Vocal have a sweet medley put together too. Not much to say about this one except there are surely few things better than Ace of Base re-interpreted by a group of elegantly-lit Scandinavians.

To play us out, I'll leave you with Drunk Bohemian Rhapsody Guy from the week before last. In case you missed his online fifteen minutes of fame, he showed drunk people may sometimes forget how to walk straight but can hold onto all the lyrics of an epic song if they love it enough. Just think what he could accomplish with a loop pedal, mic and amp.

Any covers you've come across on the net that you think are great/weird/terrible/worthy of a share? Let us know.

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