There are some voices in pop, punk, and rock and roll that are truly inimitable. God knows that doesn’t stop me from trying though.
I don’t know if this is just me? Is this a thing people do?
I do most of this ‘trying’ in the car. To work. From work. To McDonald’s. From McDonald’s. You know, on my standard commute.
I mean, I know people love busting a jam in the car, but do other people work on impressions of their favourite artists? Am I weird? Surely, yes – given the history of the response to this question being strongly in the positive.
I’ll listen to songs on repeat trying to learn the lyrics. I play them again and again to get the attitude and style right. I’m aware of how tragic this sounds, and I don’t care.
I find it’s important while singing in the car, to treat it as though you’re on stage. Make it a flipping performance. For those moments of solitude, you can be any one you want to be. And if someone starts giggling at you from the car next to you at the traffic lights (it will happen), the best thing to do is smile and power on. If you commit to it, you’re taking away their power to laugh at you, and you’re bullying them in to laughing with you. It’s a whole Amy Poehler, “there’s power in looking silly” sort of strategy…
The following songs are some of my picks for top-shelf car-singing…
Dog Days are Over – Florence and the Machine
To me, Florence is a beautiful, ginger guru. She’s all about peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men – solid mumbo-jumbo. There are times when I think that Florence and the Machine is less a band, and more a religious movement for the sorts of people that are into hula-hooping as a devotional.
To get Florence down-pat you’ve got to make sure your gesturing is on point. You want big, wide-open, ballet/tai chi arm-flailing. It’s not really conducive to safe driving…
Florence is also dead-on sexy. I think so, anyway. To do her right (titters, maturely) bedroom eyes are a must. I haven’t mastered this element yet. You’re shocked, I know.
Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan.
I’ve definitely heard this song over one million times while trying to learn the rhymes.
I still can’t do it. I feel this works in my favour though.
All you really need is “Johnny’s in the basement fixin’ up the medicine…” and the rest you can flub your way through – sounds better, in fact.
When you don’t know the words you better impersonate that Dylan-impenetrability.
Also, you’ll duly note that Dylan can pick up the same sort of cadence as William Shatner. The trick is to add pause when the listener least expects it. It also helps to channel the ramblings of your local crazy person.
“What’s he saying?”
– “Who knows. It’s clearly revolutionary though…” continues to reminisce about the 70s.
Every You, Every Me – Placebo
This is a nice, easy one for beginners.
Hold your nose, and look like you’re inches away from self-harm.
Bird on a Wire – Sarah Blasko
I once offended Sarah Blasko over the telephone.** I suggested she was a singer-songwriter, and she was not impressed. I felt thoroughly chastised. I immaturely planned to place a moratorium on her appearance in my playlists… then Mum demanded her album for Christmas.*
Ms Blasko won in the end.
And continues to. I love her so much.
* Pathetically, this is pretty much my only ‘celebrity’ story – it’s also my favourite.
** I’m sorry, Sarah.
No, I can’t continue with this one, I’ll just further ruin my chances to ever be the president of the Sarah Blasko Fan Club…
Tom Waits – God’s Away on Business
Have you ever wanted to frighten a small child on their way to school? Singing this in the car is an excellent way to go about it.
Smoking and working on your Tom Waits impression are damn great ways to make an absolute hash of your throat.
The iconic husky voice is just the half of it though. You’ll also want to deliver it with cold, dead eyes.
I like to hit “there’s always free cheddar in the mouse trap, baby. It’s a deal, it’s a deal” really hard. I think selling that line is crucial. The thought of dying based on cheese-greed is something that’s quite real for me.
If you feel you’re not getting the gravelly rasp right, this might prove useful:
Bonfire – Childish Gambino
Cultural appropriation is bad. My friends are still trying to teach me this…