We don’t often do covers unless there’s a very good reason and this one caught my attention. But not straight away I might add. It took me a couple of hearings to get into it because it isn’t really a cover at all, rather an original song which has been sampled in a fashion with the original original if you get my drift. It’s like Uma E’s version got inside A-ha’s like the Alien got inside John Hurt and then it burst forth, blood, guts ‘n all.
Let’s start with who she is – Ulriqa Fernqvist, trading as Uma E. I wonder if she is from Umeå, and the name is anagram word play?
It seems that she was asked to sing ‘The sun always shines on TV’ in a play she was acting in and eventually decided to slow it right down and treat it as if it were a poem, or even a prayer, and I have to say she succeeded at that. Then she made it all minimal, trip-hoppy and ethereal and that worked too.
Bear in mind that this version was written to support a play and even thought she tried to take that connection out, obviously because you can’t see what she was singing about, I’m not sure she was entirely successful. Even without the help of the video you can’t help but conjure up images in your mind to go with the music.
The original dealt with an obscure topic, the power of television and how if you aren’t careful it can become your only friend. You might argue that such a proposition merits a gloomier take on it than in A-ha’s original version and Uma E and her producer do supply that by way of some heavy duty bass lines and synthesiser chords, to a beat that might accompany a funeral procession.
Indeed they might have realised that, which perhaps accounts for some lighter synth notes which appear a third of the way through and which have the added benefit of padding out the melody.
The bridge is totally different as well, a breathy vocal, hung with suspense and intrigue while the ending might be one of a Doctor Who episode.
Some of the video looks as if it was shot on Mars but again it adds in atmosphere to a song which is an alt-version more than a cover.
It’s a brave attempt at remodeling a pop classic into something familiar yet unfamiliar. I don’t know how well it will go down in Oslo but I have a sneaking suspicion that Paul, Magne and Morten will at the very least acknowledge the interpretation as a welcome change from the usual club remixes.
‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’ was released on 24th November.
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