Friday, April 6, 2012

Leona Lewis Guilty Pleasures the Guiltiest of Guilty Pleasures

While watching a show on Netflix that I am very somewhat embarrassed to admit I was thoroughly enjoying watching (hint: it may or may not be called The Bampire Viaires* **), I heard a cover of one of my guilty-pleasure songs, Snow Patrol's "Run." 

For your reference: 

(Note: I'd never seen the video before but it's sort of epic. Why are they wading through water and waving around road flares?). 

I discovered that the cover was by Leona Lewis, singer of one my FAVORITE guilty pleasures, "Bleeding Love": 

(Another video I've never seen, but also thoroughly epic. Sparkly dresses! Smudged eyeliner! Rubbing up against a wall! Also, I really want that one girl's patterned tights. THOUGH WHY DOES SHE GET INTO THE BATH WITH THEM? GIRL, YOU'RE GOING TO RUIN THEM.)

Hey, did you know that "Bleeding Love" was written by this dude, another thorough guilty pleasure. I DEFY you not to enjoy the following song:  

Why is used-to-be-on-a-CW-show-Summerland Jesse-McCartney* not as famous as Justin Beiber or Justin Timberlake? Life is unfair. Maybe cause he kinda looks like Frankie Muniz? GUYS HE WROTE "BLEEDING LOVE." 

*oh, CW. Why can't I quit you? 

Leona Lewis is also the performer of this guilty pleasure, the it-was-in-the-Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire-trailers: 

(I HAVE seen this video before. It's WAY DEEP and watching people interpret it in the YouTube comments is pretty amazing). 

Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, so I found the Leona Lewis covered "Run." AND DISCOVERED SHE HAS AN EP CALLED HURT. 

Hurt is Leona Lewis covering four songs. 

Basically, it's like a little walk through the Guilty Song Pleasures of Laura's Life. 

The titular song is a cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." Which was my guilty pleasure when I was 12. (I thought I was being SO BAD ASS for liking Nine Inch Nails). 


Of course, nothing can beat Johnny Cash's cover. Nothing. 

But you know what? I think Leona Lewis does pretty well! I was pleasantly surprised. 

Really, the iron test for me of a cover of this song is how the performer sings " sweetest friend..." That phrase DID things to me when I first heard Trent Reznor sing it. And she delivers. 

The next cover is "Iris" by the Goo-Goo Dolls, Laura's Guilty Pleasure from age 14. 

I brought this up last night, when I went out to drinks with @theKFoss, Other Electricities, Bad Cholla, and Calendar: Cooking among others. When I mentioned Leona's Magical Guilty Pleasures EP including "Iris," Other Electricities looked like he was in physical pain and suggested that The Goo-Goo Dolls were, quite literally, the Worst Band of All Time. 

@theKFoss suggested, quite reasonably, that the Goo-Goo Dolls couldn't possibly be the Worst Band of All Time, when Nickelback existed in the world.

Look. I first heard The Goo Goo Dolls' "Name" when I was twelve, around the same time I discovered "Hurt" and was like OMG I LIKE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC MAYBE THERE'S A HOPE OF ME BEING COOL SOMEDAY. And yes, NIN and The Goo-Goo Dolls are not exactly the same thing, but, see: I was twelve. We were living in LA for a year, I had just discovered KROQ, and I was lonely and didn't have any friends. And "Name," like "Hurt," really hit me where my twelve-year-old-self lived, and I could finally come to school and talk about the music that other people were listening to and I had a KROQ sticker on my binder and other kids complimented me on it and that was a big deal. 

And then "Iris" came out when I was fourteen, and it was on the City of Angels soundtrack, along with Sarah Mclachlan and U2 and c'mon HE WAS AN ANGEL AND HE GAVE UP FOREVER TO TOUCH HER and I WAS FOURTEEN and I'M NOT MADE OF STONE, people. Plus THERE WERE TELESCOPES IN THE VIDEO. 

I will say that the song was so overplayed, both by me and the radio, that I can no longer stand to even listen to a bar or two of it. 

And Leona Lewis doesn't really add new or revelatory to it: 

The next song on EP is "Colorblind" by the Counting Crows. Guilty pleasure of age 17! C'mon! It was the song that Ryan Phillipe and Reese Witherspoon made love to in Cruel Intentions!

I will say that Leona Lewis' cover of this isn't so great. It's too quiet for her; she does better with big, sweeping choruses. I think a raspy, limited-range voice actually suits this song better. Plus, she sings "REDD-E" in this weird way -- is it the British accent? Dunno. 

Finally, we get to the cover that started it all. Leona Lewis' cover of Laura's Guilty Pleasure of Age 22, Snow Patrol's "Run." 

Now, it may be no great feat to defeat Snow Patrol, but I think her cover of "Run" is better than the original. She does fabulously with the quiet beginning and the soaring chorus (the touch of having a gospel chorus in the background is brilliant). This is one of the moments where I think there truly is a moment of greatness. Snow Patrol is a mediocre band but "Run" has touches of brilliance and Leona Lewis' voice has its moments of greatness too, and they really come together here. She's got the X-factor, yadda yadda yadda. 

Honestly, her cover has moments of being really, truly, great. 

(Can't watch the whole video. I love her wispy bad-ass-fairy-princess dress, but her running in slow-mo ruins the emotional effect of the song for me. Also, like the Snow Patrol video, she's running around a forest. Tribute to the original video? Ur-archetype of the forest as a metaphor for the unconscious?). 

*Okay, The Bampire Viairies. This is how I end up watching any TV show or movie, and it's been that way my entire life. My best friend roomie says, "Watch The Bampire Viaires! It's silly, but the plot moves really quickly. It's quite impressively plotted, actually. Every episode has something super-plotty happen and it keeps you guessing but it's not exactly hard to follow and you really only need to pay attention when someone dies or someone extra-pretty comes onscreen. Perfect way to relax. " 

Me: "No, no, never, too much pride, etc." 

Later, I get bored and start watching and then go, "It's silly, but the plot moves really quickly. It's quite impressively plotted, actually. Every episode has something super-plotty happen and it keeps you guessing but it's not exactly hard to follow and you only really need to pay attention when someone dies or someone extra-pretty comes onscreen. Perfect way to relax."

Plus, it's by Kevin Williamson, creator of Dawson's Creek, to which I had a love-hate relationship back in the day. And what's particularly engaging about The Bampire Viaries is that it's very much like Dawson's Creek (love triangle between Earnest Guy Who Tries to Be Nice and Secretly Insecure Snarky Guy and Brown Haired Girl Who's Not Very Interesting!*** Improbably pretty teenagers in a small Southern town! Swelling pop music montages at the end of an episode!****) but it's got the super-duper plotty supernatural-creatures-have-evil-plots-to-take-over-town aspect, which makes it much more entertaining.

 PLUS, characters can have an angsty plot line and THEN THEY DIE because it's in a supernatural world and so they can get eaten by a vampire or staked. This means secondary and tertiary characters can play their part and THEN THEY GO AWAY. Seriously, how much better would Dawson's Creek have been if characters had been able to DIE REGULARLY? Once Unconvincingly Gay Jack***** or I'm Way Too Good For This Shitty Show Because I'm MotherFucking Michelle Williams had played their part and had an angsty plot line and become annoying/superfluous, THEY COULD DIE. They wouldn't have had to wait till Season Six to kill Jen! She could have tragically turned into a vampire and gotten staked in Season 1! Or tried to cast a spell to save Joey Potter's two vampire lovers and died of the exertion! And we could have pretended not to tear up as a the swelling chorus of a Guilty Pleasure pop song had played in the background as the other characters wept over her dead body before the show INSTANTLY TURNED AROUND AND STARTED ANOTHER PLOT. 

***To be fair, the character of Elena and actress Nina Dobrev are better/more interesting than Joey Potter/Katie Holmes, she of the I-have-two-facial-expressions-and-they're-both-annoying. 

****As I've mostly been watching Supernatural, which actually has, like, kind of good classic-rock music on its soundtrack (The Rollings Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc. When they do have more dubious-quality-but-UTTERLY-brillaint choices like Asia's "Heat of the Moment" or Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison," they do so in a very self-conscious, ironic, deliberate way), I'd forgotten about the climatic-pop-song-montage-CW moments and damnit I'D MISSED THEM. Shut up. The heart wants what the heart wants. 

*****Okay, looking up YouTube clips and seeing the comments about how Jack's character really meant a lot to many young gay people makes me feel bad about snarking on Kerr Smith's uncomfortably wooden acting. Still.'m going to go doing something else because I'm a GROWN-ASS woman these days, and am no longer concerned with all this NERDY, TEENEY-BOPPER-SHIT. 

Oh, you hush, broken-glasses me. 

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