Cover Me Badd: Trashing the Classics

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Twinings Tea and John LewisI am probably (and hopefully) not alone in noticing the recent penchant that ‘down with the kids’ advertising moguls have had for taking various songs of yesteryear, churning out a twee acoustic cover of said ditty and slapping it over a sentimental advert.

It seems to me that in times of economic hardship (especially in times as hard as these), people tend to seek some sort of reassuring oasis of calm, something they know, some place that they can hark back to that has a mythical essence of ‘better, simper times’, an essence that probably never has or never will exist (Oh hey Michael Gove! How are those academies working out for ya?). That said, there is nothing wrong with wanting to find reassurance in uncertain times and situations. Like when you’re in da club and realise that everyone went to BK and then home half an hour ago and that nobody thought to tell you. Enter stage left the big-bucks businesses that spot this chink in our emotional armour and dive in head first. That’s capitalism, n’est-ce pas? Sure, that will never change.

However, what does hack me off are the people who coo over John Lewis adverts, heralding them as ‘beautiful’, ‘magical’ and the C word… ‘cute’. Sure, I love snowmen and shopping as much as the next person. Frankie’s The Power of Love got to number one in 1984, and it was great. In 1984. Have we really ran out of ideas? Wringing the originality out of a song, gluing on a guitar and a girl with a pretty voice and then proceeding to tack it on to the back-end of a department store isn’t going to make me want to go there any more than I already did. It won’t improve the shopping experience, the quality of the product I buy, the store’s social or environmental credentials, and it certainly won’t make it any less another brick in the wall of consumer culture. It isn’t a mate who I want dinner with, my favourite jumper or a confidante; it is a building filled with cashmere scarves, cupcake holders, bunting and mini tagines and nothing more.

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Twinings isn’t my best friend. they are just a company who make a wide variety of tea-based beverages. Charlene Soraia’s drippy cover of The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go won’t earn them a place on my list of friends. They make tea, I buy tea. No strings attached. The business and banks who rake in our cash, who don’t declare their taxes and who are invariably, at their hearts, nothing but a band of Range Rover (or better) driving men sat around a board room table looking to ‘maximise positive growth’ may unavoidably lie in my wallet. However, they most certainly do not lie close to my heart, and I pity anyone who falls for the Trojan Horse that is the acoustic cover ad. Who knows, maybe in 2032 I will be wowed by so and so’s acoustic cover of Super Bass? Merry Christmas.

About Andrew Bailey

PhD student at Leeds interested in cinema, americana, current affairs, transport, francophonie, and post-modern architecture.