Why karaoke and tributes are art forms

by phil on Sunday Jul 4, 2010 1:52 PM

I just watched an inspiring 18 minutes of Beatles covers by the Fab Faux. I don't know enough Beatles covers, but for me, this is also the "Best Beatles cover I've heard:"

As beautiful as this video is, someone commented:

This is not what classical orchestras do, conductors/orchestras interpret. This is pretty impressive craft. Not much art.
I disagree. I think it's just a different kind of art. You'd know it if you loved karaoke, and believed that karaoke is an art, like I do. Emulation is about trying to reach a goal post that gets further away the closer you get. I've tried to do Beatles covers before, and the pleasure is in the tension and release between two thoughts, "I really nailed that one little nuance of the original!" to "Hmm, but I'm still missing this one component." For example, in the beginning when Frank Agnello does Paul McCartney's part of You Never Give Me Your Money, you notice that as his voice bounces around his cheeks, it comes out slightly more muffled than McCartney's original. But that's fine. Hell, that's the point. After watching this cover, I now have a heightened awareness of the details of the original. Actually, let's stop calling them "covers." These are studies in masterpieces. And you come away with a finer appreciation of those masterpieces when the emulation is done well.

The instinct to interpret and to emulate are distinct. For example, when I tried to learn Japanese, I obsessively went through books and tapes about Japanese accents, so I could get it just right, and convincingly sound like I naturally learned the language. Alternatively, I could have tried to interpret Japanese, and create my own pidgin or Japinglish. Both approaches fulfill important human inclinations. And art is about distilling these natural human inclinations into something appreciated for its own sake.

(Link to Fab Faux via waxy)


Guru said on July 4, 2010 4:18 PM:

Man this is solid. So solid it's spooky! George must've watched over them!

Long live George.

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