Thursday, May 28, 2009

Covers: "Don't Stop Believin'" by the cast of Glee

I'm not sure what bugs me more: that a cover of "Don't Stop Believin'" by the cast of Glee is No. 4 on the Hot 100--five spots higher than Journey's original peaked--or that it seems to rip off the Petra Haden version. (At least the intros.)

An a capella take on a song isn't necessarily such an original idea that two people can't come to it independently. Haden's cover is from a relatively obscure compilation. A compilation with a "guilty pleasure" theme, in fact. Who knows whether or not the crew of some network television studio is aware of Haden's 2007 cover or not.

They knick the sound, but lose points for effort. Haden went so far with her vocals that she even sang the guitar solo. The Glee kids, however, wimp out. After about a minute, in come the drums and the rest of the band, and by the end of the song the a capella concept seems to have been entirely fazed out.

It's an obscenely bombastic arrangement: the a capella backing vocals stick around, horns show up, and a man and girl duet in the shrieking style of drama kids--Adam Lambert is kicking himself over a missed opportunity right now. (Speaking of Idol, if the girl on this song was a contestant she'd have "pitchy" ringing in her ears.)

If anything, it's that earnest stage sincerity that sets the Glee cover apart. Haden's version is more low-key, goofy, and even seems to be making fun of the song, or at least teasing it. The Glee version sings to the rafters and is intended to get those 12-to-15-year-olds bopping on their couches.

As for how the cover stacks up to Journey, well, who do you trust: Steve Perry or a nation of tweens with iTunes?



2 comments:

Midgard Dragon said...

"Haden went so far with her vocals that she even sang the guitar solo. The Glee kids, however, wimp out. After about a minute, in come the drums and the rest of the band, and by the end of the song the a capella concept seems to have been entirely fazed out."

Sounds like you have a definitive answer about this not being a ripoff contained within your own post.

Pango! said...

I do not understand your criticism, Midgard. You consider copying an entire minute of a song to not be a rip-off just because it's not note-for-note the whole way through?