Monday, June 23, 2008

The Best Song Remake That's Better Than The Original

I have hit on the perfect new job for me/entertainment art form. I am going to go into Remaking Great Sports Events.

Think about it: We already remake everything. Movies are being remade at both a prodigious and ever-faster rate; The Hulk came out only about five years ago, and they just remade it now. They're releasing Batman Version 3.0 later this year. They remade Superman. I understand they're remaking The Happening right now for release later this year. (Oh, wait: that's just my dream. That movie should have been called The Crappening.)

TV shows are being remade. Books are being remade. No, I'm not kidding. You would think that there is no reason to remake "words on a page," but you would be wrong. Apparently, the charms of The Babysitters' Club cannot be discovered by a generation unless the Babysitters also text message. I'm worried that they'll remake the Emil books. Leave my classics alone!

But one area has remained unremade. (Try saying that three times fast): sports. Sure, there's ESPN Classic, the least-needed cable channel ever. (If you spend any of your time watching a game between Ohio State and Minnesota that was first played on September 23, 1978, and it's not September 23, 1978, then you need a serious amount of help.)

You need help because you could be watching Football ReDone!, the newest entertainment Instant Classic From The Trouble With Roy Productions! There are hundreds and hundreds of classic sporting events that exist only in the past and on ESPN Classic. But hearing about them from your grandfather is boring, and watching them on ESPN Classic is like hearing about them from your grandfather (that is, boring). Plus, they were played by all those old guys, guys like "Joe Montana" and "Terry Bradshaw." Terry Bradshaw? He's bald! How could he play football?

No, the kids of today deserve the classics of yesterday played by the sports heroes of today! So at The Trouble With Roy Productions, we will re-play the classic sporting events you loved so much using today's stars. You can relive that 49ers-Bengals Superbowl with "The Drive," only this time, it's Brady Quinn leading The Drive, against a star-studded defense featuring Ray Lewis, Jason Taylor, and special guest defensive back Rainn Wilson! (Note: Rainn Wilson will speak in that special cool, hip, trendy in-the-huddle lingo. That's one tackle that can't be untacked, homeslice!)

How about that 1957 World Series? While I'm not 100% sure that it was a great Series, I'm reasonably certain it was because every baseball game played in the 1950s was a classic! So why not replay those seven classic games between those two teams that played those games, but put in Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Mark McGuire and Pete Rose? They can't play baseball today anyway -- but they can relive their glory years while you relive yours!

You think I'm kidding about this. You watch: This will be on TV in your lifetime. And then I'll sue for royalties. But it will be on TV because we live in a culture that remakes everything. For a society that theoretically prides itself on progress, we sure hate anything 'new.' Even the various 'retro' crazes are simply remakes of old fashions. Kids with their "wide-legged" pants are simply remaking the "bellbottoms" from when I was a kid.

Frankly, I blame Brian Setzer. While he is one of the two greatest forces for social change in the world today, he also kick-started the remaking craze when he formed "The Stray Cats" and began playing remakes of Fifties' music in the 80's. Then, still not satisfied, he remade a bunch of swing songs and brought that back (although Swing music is cool, so I can't be totally mad at him.) I bet next we'll have "The Brian Setzer Trio" and they'll play chamber music and he'll be rocking the pianoforte, and powdered wigs will be sold at Juicy Couture.

If we're going to live in a culture that remakes everything from earlier days, if we're going to have TV shows that simply re-tell the stories we heard on TV shows when we were kids (I'm looking at you, Family Guy), if we're going to have movies that simply gather up all the 'good' jokes from Mike Myers' earlier movies and put moustaches on them (seriously, in a world where we have "Scary Movie" and "Date Movie" and "Superhero Movie," why wasn't "The Love Guru" simply called "Mike Myers Movie?"), then at least do it right. If you're going to take a slice of history -- a movie, a tv show, the Teapot Dome Scandal -- and remake it, then make sure that you remake it better. Remake it Best.

Like Cheap Trick did when they remade Don't Be Cruel. Sit down, Elvis fans. (I'm one, so I'm sitting down. But, then, I was already sitting down because I type sitting down.) I'm sorry to have to say this, but Cheap Trick out-cooled Elvis on their remake of his song.

Elvis did the song "Don't Be Cruel" and did it great, of course. Everything Elvis did, from singing to dancing to peanut-butter & banana sandwiches fried up, was great.

But then along came Cheap Trick, and, skinny ties, weird guitars, and guy named "Bunny" and all, they just out-Elvised Elvis. They took the same basic song and tweaked it up to bring out the beat, bring out the bop, and make it more fun and more catchy. They even kind of had Jordannaires-style singing in there-- but a better kind of Jordannaires-style singing.

"Don't Be Cruel," by Cheap Trick, is a great example of how to remake something. They didn't just take a song, say Rock On, and add a generic drumbeat to it. They didn't steal something from Tommy James and sing it in a mall. They didn't country-fy a rock song or rock-ify a country song. That's all as easy to do as changing "Betty called Sue to come over" to "Betty Texted Sue: Come ovr." Easy to do, and junk.

Cheap Trick didn't make junk. They took the song, took it apart, and rebuilt it with the same basic structure but all new lines, all new underpinnings, and a whole new feel, making it theirs while still leaving it Elvis'. That's a lot harder to do than simply putting Christian Bale in the Batmask.

To remake something the right way, you've either got to have Rainn Wilson as the defensive back, or you've got to have a motive beyond Let's make some money by assuming that kids today won't sit and watch anything if it doesn't have cell phones in it. I've mentioned before that people viewing art always view it through their own perspective, and that's true. So if you're going to remake something, you've got to look at art in your perspective, then remake it to put your own perspective back into it for people to look at and put their own perspective on your perspective of the original artist's perspective.

Put another way: To remake something and have the remake not just be sucky, you have to look at art, say this is what it means to me, and then mold that into something that's both old and new, and give it back to the people, so they can look at it and have it mean something to them, but mean something that the original didn't mean.

Oh, never mind. Just listen to Elvis' version, and then Cheap Trick's, and you'll see I'm right, and that "Don't Be Cruel" by Cheap Trick is The Best Song Remake That's Better Than The Original:

And watch for Sports Remade coming soon to a TV station near you!

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