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Why do fading pop stars record awful covers of Bway songs? (re: Owl City's "Waving Through A Window")
Last Edit: GrumpyMorningBoy 12:27 pm EDT 07/13/17
Posted by: GrumpyMorningBoy 12:27 pm EDT 07/13/17

They're pretty much always super blaaaaaaaah.

Let's discuss when pop stars make covers of songs from Broadway musicals. Or, to be more current, let's discuss it from 1969- forward, after The 5th Dimension topped the pop charts for weeks with "Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In."

[ Because I'm not so interested in the era when Broadway music was popular music.]

Why are these tracks almost always soooo bad?

I'm talking about Michael and the Jackson Five recording singles from PIPPIN, about The Pet Shop Boys singing "Losing My Mind," about Kelly Clarkson singing "All I Ask Of You." By and large, it seems like pop singers only record Broadway songs after they've moved beyond the peak of their fame. Lady Gaga decides to branch out and try new things, so she sings THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the Oscars and dips into the Gershwin and Rodgers & Hart catalogue. So did K.D. Lang. And Queen Latifah. And Sheena Easton. And Sinéad O'Connor. And countless others. I suppose those who go retro and sing American standards tend to do pretty well, but if it's anything more recent, god help us. Stevie Wonder fucked up the "Seasons of Love" track on the RENT cast recording.

Even Streisand didn't return to recording theater songs until she was decisively in the Adult Contemporary category. And those arrangements drive me batty.

No one ever records theater music when they're huge stars making relevant music that's taking the nation by storm. The latest example: Owl City's boring, derivative edition of "Waving Through A Window." The dude had a big radio hit. In 2009. He's the guy who records DEAR EVAN HANSEN? Yeah. Cuz Justin Bieber wouldn't go anywhere near it.

Why?

I'm bitching about two things, i guess. One, I'm bitching that the recordings themselves aren't more exciting. And two, I'm bitching about the fact that these pop stars don't get around to throwing us a little love until their star begins to fade. As if they realize that there's a whole other market out there... the uncool kids.

I suppose we should make a few exceptions. Jay-Z sampled "Hard Knock Life" and Gwen Stefani sampled "If I Were A Rich Man" while they were still making big, relevant hits. "The Hamilton Mixtape" gave us a damn good Sia recording of "Satisfied."But none of those tracks has any real chance of breaking out and becoming radio / streaming hits (despite the great new video for "Immigrants: We Get The Job Done").

But why can't anyone make a cover of a theater song that's actually a good pop hit that deserves a high rank on the pop charts?

At least... since 1969??

- GMB
Link Owl City: Waving Through A Window (on Spotify)
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