Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Oh So Quiet...

Coming up Monday March 31st, Stereogum is releasing its latest exclusive tribute album. Following up on last year's Radiohead and REM tributes, they've assembled 11 artists covering Björk's 1995 album Post. While I had been peripherally aware of Björk as Icelandic and swan-clad, besides hearing Venus as a Boy in the film Léon it wasn't really until I got the Directors Label DVDs of the work of Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry (brilliant DVD, by the way), and Chris Cunningham that I was properly exposed to her music. I didn't exactly become instant fan... but there are some great music videos including Spike Jonze's video for It's Oh So Quiet, where the loud/quiet structure translates the mundane into a fantasy retro musical number. The moment with the mailbox... well that's just pure joy right there!

Though it became her biggest hit, Björk vaguely regrets doing it because as it turns out It's Oh So Quiet is in fact (gasp!) a cover song. Written by Hans Lang and Bert Reisfeld, the song originally titled Blow a Fuse was performed by Betty Hutton in 1948. Like the covering a cover phenomenon of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, all the covers of the song are of Björk's version, so much so that even a 2005 Betty Hutton compilation uses the new title.

Betty Hutton - Blow a Fuse
If you thought the shrieking was just a Björk quirk, you'll find she's actually fairly faithful to the original. It sounds like a Broadway musical number, but it's not, at least as far as I can tell using the surprising lack of google-able information on the matter.

Björk - It's Oh So Quiet
So says Björk in a 2002 interview: "The best bit was the video."

The Happy Girls - It's Oh So Quiet
From the film Happy, Texas, a film I would describe as pleasant but completely forgettable. I've seen it but barely even remember this being in the movie though it's ostensibly the climactic musical number that part of the plot revolves around... with the plot being 2 escaped convicts being mistaken for the gay organizers of a children's beauty pageant.

Noise for Pretend - It's Oh So Quiet
From a Björk tribute album, this would be the most drastic interpretation cover of the bunch. Drastic in a good way. This dumps the big band in favour of an eclectic indie pop arrangement.

Lucy Woodward - It's Oh So Quiet
Pretty much a note-for-note cover of Björk's cover with a different voice. From the soundtrack to The Ice Princess... gee, didn't manage to catch that one.

Lisa Ekdahl - It's Oh So Quiet
This jazz cover eschews the loud and goes the oh so quiet route. I still like it even though it stays pretty subdued throughout.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Thank You!!!