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Acoustic warfare

Why do people do this?

Adele, a Welsh woman of occasional chart success and media coverage, is currently your number one recording artist. On Tuesday she sang a stripped down version of her song “Someone Like You” at the Brit Awards, her performance was followed by James Corden doing what wrestling fans refer to as the “Owen voice” to let you know how solemn this performance was. Five days later the song had climbed 46 places in the charts and was keeping the Daisy Dares You V2.0-isms of Jessie J and the Canal Street gutter debris of “Born This Way” off the top of the charts.

I mean, I can understand why people popped for that performance: I watched the Brit Awards and when placed in the middle of Rihanna failing to provide any acceptable memes during her performance (why would you waste them on a UK audience) and Tinie Tempah still looking to all the world like the least useful sales assistant in any given branch of Dixon’s (“So yeah, you want a computer do you? Yeah…. We’ve got, like, some new ones over here”, there’s something at least distinctive about a bit of faux-modesty in a world of failed bombast.

And to your common-or-garden “kind of” music fan with their iTunes voucher and their two gigs a year and their taking Fearne Cotton’s album review column in Glamour magazine seriously, there’s a clear line in the sand. Stripped down = honest, loud = fun. So you’re meant to forget the dreariness of your life working in local government by “going out” and “shaking a leg” to Roll Deep, and when your boyfriend finally tires of your shit and leaves you you go and bump Mumford and Sons for their emotional deepness. It’s fucking bullshit of course, but at least you can sit down and understand how this makes it easier for major labels to market their acts. If you want to make money from Chase And Status you don’t insist they write the new “Your Song”.

But the world of stripped down acoustic covers on YouTube? I don’t get it. At all. When Soulja Boy was starting out, he would upload his tracks to Limewire under the names of then popular chart hits. So the original exclusive demo versions of “Crank Dat” and “Yahhh!” are presumably still out there in cyberspace but they’re tagged as being, say, “Let It Go” by Keshia Cole. Presumably this is the only reason these stripped down YouTube covers exist: you’re hoping you can get people to look at your work under the delusion that you are actually the real Jason DeRulo, except you’re a white guy with an acoustic guitar and Jesus hair.

And even then, I suppose “Look! Look! ‘Pass Out’ or ‘Empire State Of Mind’…. BUT SLOW AND QUIET!!!” might have some vague novelty value to simpletons. But why take a song that’s already slow and stripped down… and do a slow and stripped down version of it? Why remake an Ellie Goulding album with Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche? If you’re doing this, you’re not going to encourage anyone to a) experience your wider catalogue or b) take you remotely seriously. You’re basically turning yourself into a bar band, except a bar band that doesn’t get paid any money. You’re prostituting yourself for free on some “girl at the party who got dumped two weeks ago” tip.

Anyway, I vaguely knew the broad in this video once. Once she was fretting about a date she was meant to go on and worrying about the dude finding her “fat and ugly”. I responded with “don’t be silly, you’re not fat”, and she hasn’t spoken to me since. She also claimed to have been rimmed by a current popular British stand-up comedian. If you can guess which one in the comments, you win…. Some stuff.


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