Try This at Home: Variations on Rihanna’s “Umbrella”

I love live music, and I also like listening to or watching recordings of people performing. It’s nice to hear them play either original compositions or popular music, and sometimes the alternate, simplified versions can be quite good! In fact there are times I prefer listening to a simple piano rendition of a song over the full recording. I’m also impressed by the skill and creativity amateur musicians may possess, and now, with the Internet, they can make their performances available for all. It’s interesting to see in how many different styles a song can be played.

To demonstrate this, I’d like to showcase a song and then show a number of performances of a “cover” of the song. The song I’ve selected is “Umbrella” by the artist Rihanna. There are actually a number of major artists covering the song; I’ve omitted any well-known performers.

To begin with, here is the original song:

This young woman, Marie Digby, plays in a sweeter, less intense style.

Next is a young man named Ben Deignan who has performed at a coffee shop my friend frequents. It’s jazzier version, not so much like the other renditions. (thanks Jux2p0ze!)

These two harmonize quite well. An electric keyboard provides the percussion.

The next artist doesn’t allow her videos to be embedded in other sites, so I can’t show it here. She uses a ukelele instead of a guitar—it’s a refreshing bit of variation—so you can see the video at YouTube.

And finally, probably my favorite: though having hair that long would certainly annoy me, it’s a good cover and I was especially amused by the cardboard box percussion.

Please feel free to share any finds of your own!

This post is dedicated to Skim.

I Need to Wake Up

“I Need to Wake Up” is the beautiful song Melissa Etheridge wrote for An Inconvenient Truth. It is the only time a song from a documentary has won the Academy Award for Best Song.

It is a wonderful song, catchy and meaningful. The lyrics are beautifully apropos, expressing horror and shock transforming into determination.

I remember the first time I watched An Inconvenient Truth. I knew about global warming before that. We’d learned about it in high school, and in recent years there were increasing reports in the scientific literature of its effects on weather systems and ecosystems. But yet, very few people appreciated the magnitude or urgency of this problem. There can be little doubt that An Inconvenient Truth brought global warming to the public’s attention and has played a significant role in the current environmental movement.

Al Gore asked Melissa Etheridge to write a song for the film, and she agreed. After watching the film, she immediately felt moved to write the song, but wasn’t sure where to start. Her partner suggested she write about how the film made her feel. Etheridge asked herself, “What do I want to hear? I want to hear somebody else who feels the way I feel, which is ‘My God, have I been sleeping?’ ”

I think a lot of us had been sleeping.