Gangster pop and TOFOG

August 9, 2012

I discovered Megan Nicole’s YouTube covers of pop songs when I came across a duet with Tiffany Alvord covering the Hunger Games theme song in a Richard and Kahlan fan video, and started browsing her other uploads yesterday.

She’s awesome. Her Raise Your Glass cover with Jason Chen is more convincing than the original, because these two can be believed calling themselves or their friends “too school for cool.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed I like YouTube covers better than the hit recordings that make a song cover-worthy, maybe because of the way pop hits often use a notably neutral interpretation of the lines being sung, so there is very little indication of how each word is meant from inflection, intonation, or minor tweaks to the melodic rhythm like meaningful accents and pauses.

But covers aren’t the only YouTube videos to be found that are more specific in the use of a singing voice, interpreting the lyrics a certain way instead of trying to leave as wide a field of possible interpretations available as possible.

That’s something you notice in Russell Crowe’s music too – perhaps a carry-over of a performance strength he’s known for in acting, being able to convey an emotion or experience in a very “specific” way, so that you have a high-definition view of what’s going on inside his character’s head, so to speak.

This one is a throwback to a time when outlaw ballads were known as adventure-story diversions rather than a heavy-handed autobiographical medium for hip hop stars from the block.

He’s singing with TOFOG, which was Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts at one point but became The Ordinary Fear of God. Word play is something these guys don’t get too self-serious about, and you can find autobiographical rap in their body of work too.

They say mass marketed music is usually stripped of detail in terms of what the song expresses to better appeal to audiences too diverse to agree on how the lyrics should be meant.

That is, I would say so by extension, seeing how persuasively someone at cracked.com put forward a similar theory for why big budget movies have absolutely no subtlety in terms of human behavior – see monster, run fast, big bada boom, etc.

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