Terrible Tribute Showdown: Porter Robinson's "Language"
The thing I hate about karaoke, aside from drunk bachelorette parties and my own crippling fear of singing in front of people, is the music, these bad knockoffs pretending to be the songs we love. I know spending all day making pretend versions of songs isn't the most glamorous job in the world, but would it kill these people to take pride in their work?
Photo by Julian Bajsel Porter Robinson goes full Jesus pose.
In addition to karaoke mills, there's a whole industry out there dedicated to pumping out crappy knockoffs of good music. Thanks to the various streaming music services, the awful versions of the songs you know, be they karaoke or "tribute" versions, are just a mouse click away.
How awful are we talking? That's what I wanted to find out.
Porter Robinson performs in Houston tonight for the third time in the past 12 months. Since his track "Language" was one of the best singles to come out last year, I decided to make it our test subject.
Let's start with the original version of the song to see what we're working with:
Not the easiest song in the world to cover, but certainly not the hardest. The tricky part will be matching the overall sound of the original. Robinson produced the hell out of this track: Top to bottom, it just sounds good, from the synth selection to the drum sounds used to the mixing. Nailing the effects-heavy parts may prove difficult as well.
On to the pretenders:
Contender 1: "Language" by Big Tunes 2012
One of the things you'll notice when you get to the meat of this track is that there's no bass. Something in the mix is playing bass notes, but it's buried so low that it might as well not be there at all. Because of this, the song sounds very thin and unfun to listen to. It has a whole mess of other problems, but its biggest sin is a lack of dynamics.
To their credit, they at least did all six minutes of the track, the vocals aren't terrible and the drums sound close to the original, so there's that.