In honor of Beyoncé’s four-night run at Roseland, which continues with a sold-out show tonight, Sound of the City is celebrating the singer with a series of features. While she’s a singular artist with her own way of handling tracks, it’s fun to imagine what would happen if other artists tackled her catalog. This list was crafted with a very acute awareness that certain songs shouldn’t be touched (cough, “1+1”), but know that the artist/track pairings we came up with pay homage to both B and her future tribute bands.
Dream cover: “Run The World (Girls)”
Why: Ideally, Merrill Garbus would ditch Major Lazer’s (somewhat overpowering) beat and get to work making her own loops. If you’ve ever seen her live, you know she’s as skilled at building up to a song as she is at disarming the crowd with her friendly demeanor. Add in her yelpy, “no-range-is-out-of-range” singing style, and, well, who better to sing about girls taking over the world?
Best musical evidence that it could work: “Killa”
Artist: Titus Andronicus
Dream cover: “Countdown”
Why: It seems like a little bit of a stretch, but consider the tempo; the New Jersey band could turn it into a power-punk vehicle really easily. And imagine Patrick Stickles and Amy Klein harmonizing on the chorus, then plunging into the actual countdown itself? It would leave your ears bleeding. In a good way.
Best musical evidence that it could work: “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future”
Artist: Bill Callahan
Dream cover: “If I Were A Boy”
Why: This suggestion came from a dear friend of SOTC, and it immediately earned my approval. The singer/songwriter tends to go for songs with simple lyric structure and repetition, which Bey’s single is full of. Plus, his gravelly, quietly serious voice would probably reduce us to tears if we heard him swearing to be a better man.
Best musical evidence that it could work: “Free’s”
Dream cover: “Best Thing I Never Had”
Why: The Brooklyn trio’s debut album is focused on heartbreak, and delivered with fuzzy guitars and a smoky singer. Add a little reverb and an almost-lazy vocal to the post-breakup better-off-without-you ballad and you’ve got a hit.
Best musical evidence that it could work: “Harsh Realm”
Dream cover: “I Was Here”
Why: Skeptics be damned: the Das Racist rabblerouser actually did a wonderful job covering The Strokes’ “New York City Cops” for the Is This It tribute album Stroked. I’d like to hear him rap the chorus and play around with the story behind this Diane Warren-penned ballad, so we can find out where he was when he realized how big a softy he really is.
Best musical evidence that it could work: “New York City Cops”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 16, 2011