The gentle art of the cover, pt. 2

One particularly interesting brand of covers is what we might call “The reclamation of the guilty pleasures”: when a ’serious’ artist covers a song originally performed by an artist considered somewhat tacky or unhip, such as a boy “band” or Las Vegas crooner. Often, it’s more than welcome – after all, girl and boy groups composed by record companies ain’t what they used to be. At times, the interpreter manages to bring forth completely unexpected nuances in the song – often retrieving a rather pretty little melody from under a mountain of unnecessary drum machines and synthesizers.

Today’s subject for that treatment is teen-pop star turned trailer-trash queen Britney Spears. Travis’ version of Baby one more time was just as amusingly shocking as undeniably good when it came out – could a “serious” brit-pop band really do that? They could, and they succeeded.

Things begin to get really interesting, though, by the time we get to the later output of ms. Spears’ songwriters. The charming little Dutchess Stevie Ann sure puts the right spin on Toxic, but the true killer is when The Chapin Sisters veil the same song in their angelic yet sinister vocal harmonies. Absolutely gorgeous, and major kudos for listing their influences at the page as “The Carter Family, The Chapin Family, The Manson Family“. The fact that one of the girls is the daughter of horror maestro Wes Craven makes perfect sense.

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