*** Due to unfortunate circumstances, this version is now found on the Australian charts and is now charting due to a huge fiasco with Jonas Blue's version. I've discussed it all and compared the two in my Jonas Blue review. Is it fair that I compare the two, especially since Tobtok's came first? Probably not, but they both came to my attention together and they will be forever lumped together. See my review of this here: http://www.australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Jonas+Blue+feat%2E+Dakota&titel=Fast+Car&cat=s
* Why cover an emotional, story based song like Fast Car if you're going to strip it of all emotion and overbear all the lyrics with horrendous production that's completely out of place? Well, it would be out of place if the vocal wasn't that completely horrible generic dance artist voice that probably comes from a computer somewhere. This needs to die in a fire.
*** Also dass hier auch keine großen musikalischen Ambitionen hinterstecken, den Chapman-Klassiker in das hinlänglich bekannte Deep-House-Gerüst zu pressen, ist ja klar. Ich muss sagen, dass mir diese Version aber zumindest weniger schlecht gefällt als die ja nahezu gleichzeitig erschienene von Jonas Blue. Die Masse votiert da den aktuellen iTunes-Charts zufolge aber genau andersrum. Joar gut... ich verstehe diesen Trend ja sowieso nicht so wirklich.
**** Music is wonderful. Even in the constraints of direction to keep a song 'listenable', there are just soooo many ways you can go that means I can rest assured knowing I'll never have 'heard it all'. Though I often hear otherwise, I do genuinely think that the pop charts are a great example of this, because it's a competitive, survival of the fittest scenario. To reach the highest notoriety, it's almost essential to have some sort of gimmick to a song or artist, solely to push them ahead of all the others doing something similar. Marketing helps too, of course.
Though the gimmicky nature may leave plenty of people disinterested (heck, the vast majority for me just falls somewhere between listenable & pleasant), I find it always interesting. After all, it's interesting to see how the lines are drawn, and what can ascend to the very top of the pack. Because while the gimmicks may get attention, the vast majority of the charts seem to be controlled by people who don't necessarily want any of that. At least not explicitly. Particularly with the rise of streaming, it becomes vital for these songs to, at their core, retain convention so they can slip into someone's playlist without an eyebrow raised.
Why I mention all of this is because it's an experimental nightmare. Basic knowledge of science will let you know that if you want to truly examine the effects of variable traits, you can only really do it by simulating the same scenario twice, but under two slightly different settings. But the issue for this with music is that it's just so impractical to do that, because most hit songs have so many different factors that make them wildly stick out. No one can consistently reach the top because it's impossible to truly determine what makes a song tick for most people. You can't just perpetually release the same song with tiny alterations either, because that'll just make diminishing returns on principle, even if the newer idea is more fundamentally sound. I often find it hard to rate songs when there are so many (often conflicting) ideas going around that it's hard to make a score whose accuracy goes beyond 'yeah, that looks right'.
You might think that this is tran...sitioning into me trying to grasp the distinct popularity levels of the two "Fast Car" covers released around the same time, but I'm not (I do think it's about label clout more than anything, and I imagine that the other one is picking up sales intended for the other but have gone lost since that one got the head start. Rather, I find this an excellent way to truly weigh up the redeeming qualities on the two releases, and reach a conclusion that goes beyond my typical knee-jerk reaction of tropical house remakes that probably has more to do with the song choice than anything about it.
Sometimes I wonder if there's much to offer me with the tropical house stuff. Just because it seems clear that there's not much interest in pumping out variety for mass consumption. It's appropriate that arguably the biggest star in Kygo has the most trouble not retreating back into the same tacky drop in nearly every one of his songs. Could it be amusing that the track that apes his style so hard ends up charting higher than anything of his? Probably not worth it.
That Jonas Blue record is not remotely to my interest for that reason. I feel like I'm waiting for the Fonz to jump over a shark, not because I think everything's gone bad, but because this really does mark a full realisation of how little effort it can possibly take to win people over. I's a shame too because I think this record on the other hand was well made, and actually does exemplify some of the best that tropical house can do. For starters, it sounds like it was made outdoors, rather than indoors, and as such the general livelihood is off the charts. This does what my favourite covers do: stays true to the original enough to justify bothering to writing around it (retaining some of the light acoustics really is a nice touch), but at the same time not resting fully on those laurels and thus justifying not just listening to the original and nothing else.
My favourite example of this is in the way Frente! covered New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle". Neither sound remotely similar to the point that I was familiar with both but the fact that they were the same song never clicked for me until I put a name to the cover. But what's most important is comparing both renditions and what sticks out about them. For New Order, it locks into a wonderful feeling of bliss that makes every moment of it a joy. For Frente! it feels more focused on individual hooks, and what ends up being most remembered about it are the way Angie Hart's voice runs through specific parts of the song.
Now, I can't claim this goes remotely close to that, but it does have those little touches that stick out to me. Now granted, it's a bit egregious to hear a song of poverty sung by someone who I'd sooner expect to be stylistically poor for instagram likes than legitimately poor. But it is what it is, and I like the fact that the vocalist is engaging, which is something I have good evidence on working when I compare it to the other version that sounds like they're reading the words for the first time. The production keeps up with this too. While it's upbeat the whole way through, I feel extra effort went around the hook of the song. Just like when Tracy Chapman does it, the big moment comes with the elongated 'I', but since that need not be replicated, instead we get a slight boost of flavour on the 3rd bar that just hits the right spot for me.
Now, I can't at all say that on trend covers of proven popular songs of the past is something I get behind. Rather it's always to me shown the biggest distinct difference between tastemakers & the general public, as the former will probably not even acknowledge it (unless they're one of those types who relish on picking down easy targets) yet they've been a near constant presence in the charts for as long as pop music has existed. You'd think the existence of YouTube and boundless content would render them obselete, but good marketing goes a long way. I wonder how many people who instantly rejected "Bound 2" in 2013 as soon as they found out about the video, but unwittingly had Sigma's "Nobody To Love" on their playlists some 6 months later because it was on the radio and sounded exciting. So in the end, this gets the faint, damning praise of being one of the more enjoyable ones.
**** A fascinating record in multiple ways. First off, it can be bizarre when a seemingly random artist that makes my chart (of which many of the artists that make my chart since 2015 are) manages to score a hit. A few months before I came across this track, Tobtok's track "Shelter" made it into my chart. It's pretty cool when things like these happen, even if it's with a weaker song than the one I really got into.
I do think "generic female dance vocalist" is an odd choice for covering a song like "Fast Car", a song that is distinct in that department for having those vocals which lead to confusion over what gender the singer is. But I personally find those type of vocals appealing generally, and this an example of that. River is not perfect but she is lively and I find she sounds more interested in singing the song than Dakota. In particular I think she nails the "Iiiiii", it's very lovely to listen to. Not only that, but in comparison to Jonas Blue's record this is an improvement production wise. This song legitimately sounds like summer and appropriately suited to a tropical context. It's also just more interesting too. I can't imagine people mistaking this for the original like someone I know did once when they heard Jonas Blue on radio. Its existence is not absolutely redundant.
I originally preferred Jonas Blue but it's easy to see now that this is the more enjoyable cover of the two. I wish this better nailed the emotion of the original, but props for at least trying to make something a little different. It's also much better than many other tropical house hits this year. Also Tobtok goes on the small list of famous people who have replied to a tweet of mine on twitter, so go him :)