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A class of music that always seems to work is acoustic remixes – be it an acoustic cover of a song, or an acoustic live recording by the artist themselves. I’m not usually a fan of novelty, or even covers, but there’s just something about acoustic performances that I enjoy.

The first big difference between the acoustic version and the original version of a song is that generally speaking, the lyrical content of the original will be drowned out by the music. It may just be something about me where I listen to the music more than the words, but it’s not until you get the stripped-down acoustic version of a song where it’s a guitar/piano and the vocalist that I feel the lyrics are really relevant. For example, the song “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon went completely past me. I liked the song, and listened to it dozens of times in the past, but I never would have been able to tell you what it was about (despite being able to tell you what it sounded like) until I heard a few acoustic covers of it (such at this one). I wouldn’t say acoustic covers make songs better. They just restore some meaning that might have been lost in the distortion, or bass, or digital effects.

Another thing about acoustic performances is that they force the artist to conform to a degree of musical integrity. Like lyrics, mistakes are easily masked in the “noise” of music. When you strip everything away, you can’t really make mistakes. You have to play well and sing well, or else the song will sound bad. I like having that in a performance. Oftentimes, I would say it allows artists to show how good they really are. An amusement: I believe I’ve said in the past that people are always falling back to Lady Gaga’s old acoustic performances when they try to prove she is a talented artist – now you know why. Another acoustic song I liked for this reason is Jessie J’s “Who You Are,” which I heard on SYTYCD this past week. It’s a bit of a silly song originally, but I like it a lot in the acoustic performance. She’s a better singer than she looks.

The last, and perhaps rarest, instance that I like in acoustic performances is when they are actually better than the original. For me, this usually happens when someone redoes an older song, because I just don’t like much music from, say, the 80’s. I had this song in mind when I started writing this post: Ryan Star’s cover of Losing My Religion. To all of REM’s many angry fans: their version of this song is too poppy and energetic for its subject matter. I swear that it was not until the 90’s that bands started showing up who realized you can’t have a sad song that sounds like this.

That’s that. Every artist could do with making an acoustic version of at least one of their songs, just as a challenge. (For anyone interested, the guy in the blog picture is Derik Nelson)

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One thought on “I’m a sucker for acoustic remixes

  1. Pingback: Listen To Better Music

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