Monday, June 30, 2014

Elsa Vedder? Maybe Not

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Last week, during a show in Milan, Pearl Jam inserted a few snippets of the Oscar-award winning song Let it Go into a medley which included time-honored PJ numbers Daughter, It’s OK, and Jeremy. The effects on social media were immediate, the feedback divisive. I’m on the camp that thinks the “cover” stank like cat piss, mainly because of Eddie Vedder. You can watch the whole (12 minute) video here.

Elsa Vedder

Sorry, Eddie. Elsa is not amused. Taken from KSDK.


Don’t get me wrong. I love Pearl Jam, and I love Eddie. And I understand that they sang it for fun since the chord progression for Let it Go and It’s OK were technically similar (listen to it!). I don’t think it was a terrible thing to do. But that doesn’t mean that I think it was a good cover. And here’s why.

1. Idina Menzel is a tough act to follow.

Seriously, have you heard this woman’s voice? I never knew who she was before Glee, but when I heard her sing for the first time, I took notice. And as did the rest of the world who didn’t spend plenty of time checking on who’s who in the theatre / Broadway scene. Her voice is such a gift to humanity that the Demi Lovato version of Let it Go is like a slap in the face of everything that is holy.


2. Eddie Vedder’s voice is naturally crackly.

Let’s admit it. Eddie has a great voice. But he’s no tenor. His high notes are often sung from the very top of the head tone, which means he always sounds like he’s screaming his higher octaves. And it’s no different in the few bars of Let it Go; his voice starts cracking when he gets to the higher notes of the song, which makes him sound like a little kid on puberty.


3. The song was sung as part of a medley of other great Pearl Jam numbers

I’m not entirely familiar with It’s OK, but I’m pretty cool with Daughter and I love Jeremy. Vedder was singing at the top of his game in the other numbers in the medley, which made the few bars of Let it Go stick out like that crunchy static you hear from overdriven guitars with grounded cables.


4. The rest of the band did an awesome job.

You know, this is the worst part of the whole debacle. Since the rest of the band was basically in the middle of a segue from Daughter to It’s OK, the music was great. I think I get that Vedder was playing with the crowd when he started singing Let it Go, but I’m convinced that he could have chosen a better song with similar bars to fool around with—and a song that he could have sung more efficiently.


So I think I’m going to stop calling it Pearl Jam’s cover of Let it Go, because for all intents and purposes, it wasn’t a cover song at all. It was a joke by Eddie Vedder, and one that probably made most of the people at the Milan concert grimace for a bit; that was probably worth it for Eddie. But dude, really. Don’t do that again. Or at least, practice the bloomin’ song first.

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