First of all, if you don’t know what this is about, read the post below this one. Basically, to promote the upcoming release of 27: Second Set #1 on September 14, I decided to record covers of nine one-hit wonders and put them up online. Most of the song selections are based on suggestions from readers, which is as it should be. I started working on this on Saturday morning, and I’ve given myself a few rules:
1. The tunes will all be performed via solo acoustic and vocals – no other instruments, no other production. That doesn’t mean I can’t use pedals, but I’m not going to put in drums or tin whistle.
2. The definition of “one-hit wonder” has to remain a little loose. I mean, if you ask Aqua whether they’re a OHW, they’ll probably say no, but I don’t think that most people could name another hit of theirs besides “Barbie Girl.” For my purposes, I decided to take suggestions as OHWs even if I suspect they might have another hit or two out there. I mean, if someone thinks a band is a one-hit wonder, then they sort of are a one-hit wonder – at least to that person. Good enough for me.
3. I decided not to include video of myself performing the tunes. I only gave myself a few days to pull this whole thing together, and if I wanted to get the songs out at all, something had to go.
After a lot of back and forth on which tune to start with, I picked A-Ha’s classic “Take On Me.” I’ve got five songs out of the nine recorded, and the fun part of the project has been coming up with the song arrangements. Most of these one-hit wonders are very heavily produced, with many instruments and voices, so finding a way to make them work (hopefully) with just guitar and vocal was a pretty cool challenge. Here’s the original version, if you’ve never heard it:
For “Take On Me,” I went with a pretty straight fingerpicking approach. I incorporated melodies from the band’s parts when I thought they made sense, but left others out. That’s what I think you have to do when working on a cover – make it your own, but try to figure out what’s essential about the original version. For guitar/theory nerds, I took the song up a third so it would be a bit easier to get the falsetto parts, and capo’ed on the fifth fret.
Here’s a link to the MP3:
And the YouTube clip (such as it is):
Enjoy – another one tomorrow!
(Thanks to Jim Zubkavich, the fantastic writer of Image Comics’ Skullkickers as well as many other cool upcoming things, for the suggestion on this one – it’s one of my favorite songs, so there’s a chance I would have done it anyway, but I’m not going to be chintzy about it. Zub earned himself a signed copy of 27: Second Set #1 – maybe you’re next!)