As part of an ongoing project to classify, catalogue and groove to every cover version in history, The Tramp turns her attention to Lounge covers. And so, in the club style…
I know some consider it cheese, but it’s not – Lounge is sexy. It’s that husky voiced femme fatale in the red sequin dress, purring into a 30’s style microphone, eyes, sensuously, half closed. A very distinct tinkling of piano ivories, suggestive of a gentleman with a large whiskey propped atop his baby grand and a grin to rival the Cheshire Cat’s. It is a brass section, in a song that you never imagined needed a brass section, played by guys in loosened collared black tie that hints of muscles and sweat. It’s the Terry Thomas of music; roguish, moustachioed and always suggestive. If lounge is a flame I am the moth irresistibly drawn to its twinkling musical kitsch charms.
Lounge may not be mainstream but it has its followers and they are happy to pay over the odds for a CD or download. If there’s a lounge lover in your circle of friends you’ll know, because we cannot resist sharing our favourite discoveries. They’re fun. They’re smart (just because the musical rearrangements seem effortless it doesn’t mean they are) and they’re sexy.
This Mostly Covers is being devoted to some of my favourite lounge covers. Sadly most lack a video. I say sadly because this is the sort of music that a director could really get their creative teeth into. Have a listen and see what I mean. And should you find yourself tapping your feet and sporting a daft grin… Well we welcome all to the lounge fold.
Hungry Like the Wolf
Duran Duran went with 80s synth and the nasally rampant Simon le Bon earnestly singing that he was on the hunt and after you. There’s no synth in this version, just a slow lazy trumpet and a beautiful jazz voice purring the lyrics, do be do be da do be da dobe daa. Like it? Listen to it again with your feet up and a glass of something in your hand. Did you close your eyes? Were you transported to somewhere else? Somewhere that little bit more opulent?
If you are wondering if you have heard this arrangement before, well maybe you have. Here’s the chinalicious Bruce Campbell lounging it up with some leggy stunners, an open fire and a very luxurious looking rug in the name of Old Spice – ahoy!
That rrrrough at the end is sexy as hell isn’t it. That’s the ‘sex’ I was talking about. Not the pert bottomed, gold hot pant wearing sexiness of pop. Rather the sexy that is a velvet tuxedo jacket, wry smile and gentle swirl of a brandy glass – decadent, luxuriant, mature.
Real Slim Shady
Lounge can cover anything – punk, rock, pop, opera, even rap. Until you hear this you would be forgiven for finding it hard to imagine Eminem as a lounge cover, which is of course the genius of this particular cover. Is it a musical gag? Perhaps, but so is the original, so it’s fitting.
I’m sure Eminem would love it if when he sang “my bum is on your lips. My bum is on your lips, so give it a little kiss” it sounded as wry and knowing as it does here. Eminem is aggressively in your face, the Vitamin Lounge is the nice band on stage with maturity and experience to hand and here they are husking that you should kiss their arse. Wonderful.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The Cooltrane Quartet
Those listening may have observed that there is a definite ‘vintage jazz’ and ‘swing’ vibe to the lounge covers I am picking here, which the Cooltrane Quartet really highlight. It’s hard to listen to this version and remember the original; the trumpet fits so perfectly, the purring songstress so seductively easy on the ear. I am a huge fan of the angry guitar strumming original; that riff and wonderful “uhhh” belong in the music hall of fame. Yet listen to this version and, like all the greatest covers, the song takes on a new persona. The protest has gone, instead we have a call to bed, the trumpet underlining that only a fool would say anything other than ‘stay’.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
That’s right Paul Anka, the Canadian superstar sings Nirvana. Anka, who has been around long enough to have sung with the likes of Sinatra and Dean Martin, considers the Karaoke approach of Messers Williams and Buble beneath him. No, if you’re going to swing do it lounge style. Take a rock classic, a growling anthem of teen and tween discontent with thrashing drums and screeching guitar and make it smooth. When Anka suggests you “turn the lights down”, it’s with a sultry smile. If he’s going to entertain you, well you probably should have packed a toothbrush. He may be 73, but that’s not stopping him. Grrrrrrrowl!
Sad Clown With The Golden Voice
OK I accept that my final pick challenges the idea of sexy, particularly when you watch the accompanying visual. If anything it’s verging on creepy. But close your eyes and listen. His voice is honey folks. Sweet, golden, viscose, delicious honey. There’s no complex arrangement here, just a virtuoso piano and a soft jazz drum, but it needs little else. I like to imagine that this is an audition for X-Factor. Now wouldn’t that be fun. Or the Voice, just imagine their faces as they turn around to spot – well a suspiciously tall and broad looking chap with a preference for dressing like a character from a horror movie. Seduced by the voice and then faced with the clown, mentally hoping one of the other judges turns around and gets picked over them. I mean, what do you do with that? Pop it on YouTube and watch the hits clock up of course. Enjoy.