Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bastard of the Day

Way back in the early days of the DJWriter blog, I nominated Disney princess Hilary Duff's version of "My Generation" for "Worst Cover Song of 2004." It is with heavy heart that I inform you that the mouseheads are about to unleash an even more offensive assault on the ears of America. Today's Bastard of the Day is Walt Disney Records for conceiving and foisting upon us DEVO 2.0, aka DEV2.O .

Don't hate DEVO 2.0 because they are another prefabricated pop band. Don't hate them because they are a cover band. Hate them because they are desecrating the music of Akron, Ohio's finest band. Okay, that's not saying much, but just listen to this crap. And it just gets worse...

Read about the band. Lead singer Nicole (there are no last names in DEVO 2.0, which at least gives these kids a chance to lead normal lives as adults) cites as one of her musical influences Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. The idea of a pre-adolescent girl singing "Whip It" with "my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps" going through her head is rather disturbing, don't you think?

I know this concept has been done before, notably by A*Teens. But Abba was pop schlock from day one. DEVO is deeper than that. Beneath the flower pot hats, there is good music with interesting lyrics. A Wikipedia entry confirms my worst fears:

The lyrics to the songs they perform are also heavily edited, to make them more "family friendly" and remove all of the innuendo typical of Devo songs. (In "Through Being Cool", for instance, the line "eliminate the ninnies and the twits" is changed to "eliminate the time you waste in cliques", and the innuendo-filled "Girl U Want" is completely re-written and sanitized as "Boy U Want"... The song "Beautiful World" remains mostly unchanged until the end, where the line "it's a beautiful world ... for you, but not for me" becomes "for you... I guess me too".)
Damn, that was the best line in "Beautiful World" (it was bad enough when that song was used in a Target commercial). This is the fluffiest of fluff, Hilary Duff with New Wave backing music. I noticed that they didn't record "Gut Feeling" -- I'd hate to think how they would rewrite the "slap your mammy" part of that song (probably "hug your mammy").

How did this come to be? Disney had to get permission from DEVO to use the name, right? Did DEVO completely sell out? To my surprise and disappointment, the answer is a huge YES. From clubdevo.com:

DEV2.0 is a strange, Corporate-Feudal experiment that attempts to bring the original DEVO music sensibility to children in the 5 to 8 year old demographic range. The band is composed of 5 talented kids ranging in age from 10 to 12 years old. They are able to play and sing. DEVO produced the music for them and Gerald Casale directed all of the videos for the DVD which was funded by Buena Vista Records, a division of the Disney Company. From Billboard.com: The "Devo 2.0" CD is due March 17 via Disney Sound. A companion DVD will feature animated and live action videos for each of the tracks directed by Devo bassist and co-founder Gerry Casale.
When I first heard about DEVO 2.0, I never dreamed that DEVO had this much involvement. Now I'm not sure whether the Bastard of the Day should be Disney or DEVO! The only good thing ("everybody, it's a good thing") that can come out of this is a new interest in the original band's body of work.

What's next? A kid singing folk songs named "Bob Dillon?" A group of kids playing 1970s heavy metal called "Blue Oyster Club?" They could perform their biggest hit, a song about studying hard in science class called "Don't Fear the Beaker."

With Disney's marketing muscle behind it, we're sure to hear plenty about DEVO 2.0 in the next few months. "Through being cool," indeed.

1 comment:

MidnightBayou said...

Don't get me wrong. Disney's films are great, but the music they come out with sucks big time. Leave the original songs alone! They ruin the great classic songs big time!!! And altering the lyrics, not cool!