Cover v. Original Verdict: Friday Night, Saturday Morning
Cover v. Original: Friday Night, Saturday Morning
Verdict: Francophiles love Nouvelle Vague
First, let me admit my own ignorance.
If that isn’t enough to turn you away from reading the rest of my review, let me also admit that when I think of ska, the scene in Clueless featuring the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones flashes through my mind.
There. I’ve laid it all out on the table. I’m totally unhip.
On the other hand, my naivete is precisely what qualifies me to choose Nouvelle Vague’s cover of the song: I’m a fan of French pop.
In fact, that’s what introduced me to the song in the first place. I hadn’t heard of Nouvelle Vague until a friend of mine, who I’ll characterize as a religious New Wave/post-punk fan, recommended the album to me. …after I disclosed my then-obsession with Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin, and Francoise Hardy.
(Evidence of Francophilia: “Je T’aime, Moi Non Plus” performed by Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg)
“Friday Night, Saturday Morning” was a single track on a compilation that meant nothing to me but for my interests as a Francophile. I felt no nostalgia. I did not think of Manchester or Factory Records or the recession in Brixton. (Uh-oh. Foot in mouth. Did I forget to mention that I’ve never worshipped Ian Curtis?)
In this way, I approached the song in a similar way that the chanteuses approached it. (See further reading, article by Dorian Lynskey in The Guardian: “Camille [Dalmais], like most of [Nouvelle Vague's] singers, knew nothing of the songs she was reinterpreting, which is why the performances sound so liberated. If you don’t know the musical history, you can’t feel its burden.”)
I had no preconceived notions of how “Friday Night, Saturday Morning” was supposed to be played when I first heard it. I just knew that I liked the song. I played it again and again until I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I dislike the Specials version. What’s not to like about a party-style song about a night of partying? The Specials’ lyrics match the catchy music and vice versa. It’s a dose of fun sans hangover.
On the other hand, Daniella D’Ambrosio’s innocent voice and Nouvelle Vague’s melancholy delivery is exactly what caught my attention. Although fervent fans may disagree, this ironic crooning towards self-destruction seems to acknowledge the hollow underbelly of any party scene, especially the New Wave/post-punk era.
Cover v. Original works like this: A contributor presents covers and originals in a post. Readers debate over which is better in the comments. Final verdict is given about one week later.