This post turns the Indie Obsessive mode of operation inside out. Typically, we are forward looking – featuring songs headed in a direction of increased visibility. And normally, we are not very interested in cover songs. But we ran into one of Duncan Sheik’s cover songs from his 2011 album “Covers 80s” and this blog is the result. Yes, it’s about a song with its best days behind it; and it’s a cover.
The album “Covers 80s” includes twelve covers of songs that surfaced in the 1980s. Perhaps it was too much at once, since no song stood out. On a drive last week, the song “Life’s What You Make It” rolled to the top of a playlist that did not include any other song from the “Covers 80s” album.
The original “Life’s What You Make It” was released by the English band Talk Talk. The year of release was 1985. The video was given extensive play on MTV during the middle of the 1980s, an era much different than today, since MTV was a music leader rather than the music follower it has turned into. In the 1980s, heavy exposure on MTV shot songs to the tops of charts.
Included below is the Talk Talk video for “Life’s What You Make It.” We enjoy the original. However, the features that cause us to appreciate Duncan Sheik’s cover even more include (1) the addition of a female voice that provides occasional contrast with the lead male vocals, (2) the use of less conventional instruments, in addition to the piano, and (3) the greater obviousness that some notes just aren’t melodic. It’s this third feature that has us wondering if we are reading into the song an element that wasn’t really intended. Thus, the melody travels along smoothly for the first 1:06, when notes are introduced that just don’t seem to fit. This occurs immediately after the male (Duncan) says “Baby, yesterday’s favorite” and the female responds “Don’t you hate it.” Yesterday’s favorite is now disliked – life is not a consistent melody.
"Life’s What You Make It" by Duncan Sheik
"Life’s What You Make It" by Talk Talk