I have actually been planning to write about the genius of one of my favourite Canadians for some time now, but when Dale had the audacity to post a piece featuring Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, I knew I had to take action post-haste. (Actually it was pretty funny.)
William Shatner is a true rennaisence man. He has reinvented himself so successfully so many times over the decades and has marketed his personal brand so brilliantly that it makes Madonna look like a chump. Have you ever wikkied William Shatner? The list of his work just keeps scrolling and scrolling.
And when he put out the album, Has Been, in 2005, he slyly capitalized on his notoriety for butchering a song, and for leaving piles of chewed up scenery in his wake. But then a really strange thing happened. Has Been turned out to be a surprisingly decent album. Mind you, when you team up with people like Ben Folds and Henry Rollins, your chances of producing something non-horrible increase immeasurably.
My favourite cover song of all-time is on this album. To hear William Shatner's version of Pulp's CommonPeople [mp3] is to witness a spectacle in the truest sense of the word. Bill's scenery chewing gusto is modified somewhat by Ben's actual singing ability, but there are some wonderfully odd moments (as one would expect). Halfway through the song, there's a random British guy singing for a few lines, either that or Ben Folds is channeling Jarvis Cocker, but he does come back to his senses for the remainder of the song. And then, of course, the big choir kicks in for the big finish.
It sounds like it should be a big mess, and it is, but it is an absolutely GLORIOUS mess. It is brilliant in its insanity and it makes me smile every time I hear it.
And if you are an old hack specializing in butchering spoken word pieces, is it not a stroke of genius to team up with the Henry Rollins to produce a ripping spoken word rant? "I Can't Get Behind That" [mp3]
There's even a bit of pathos on mending estranged father-daughter relationships in That's Me Trying [mp3].
Today on the Friday Random Playlist, I thought in honour of his genius, I would let Captain James Tiberius Kirk pick the playlist, by begining with his cover of Common People and seeing to where he would boldly lead us (where no man has gone before):
The SHAT Friday Random Playlist
2. Everything is Automatic - Matthew Good Band
3. London Calling - the Clash
4. Love Cats - OK Go cover
5. Young Offenders - the Constantines
6. How Soon is Now? - the Smiths
7. Paper Shoes - Hawksley Workman
8. Sub-Domestic - the Constantines
9. I Hurt You - the Pretenders
10. Melody Lee - the Damned