Madonna‘s 2003 politically-charged album “American Life” is one of her more polarizing works, but it’s not without highlights, one of which is fan-favorite album track/Europe-only single “Nothing Fails”. The track was co-written by British electronic producer Guy Sigsworth and Welsh singer Jem. Originally called “Silly Thing”, the demo was recorded with Jem’s vocals back in summer 2001 and had never surfaced before… until last week, when Sigsworth finally reached into his vault and sneakily put it on Soundcloud. Though claimed a “work-in-progress demo” and “over ten years old”, the demo is achingly beautiful, even in its raw form. Jem’s pristine, light-as-air vocals carry an ingenue quality, in contrast to Madonna’s seasoned delivery on the finished track. In fact, it wouldn’t sound out-of-place on her excellent debut album “Finally Woken”, which makes me wonder if she ever worked with Guy on her own tracks. I am seriously in love with it, it makes me feel nostalgic for what I call “The OC age”. Oh how I miss her voice. To most people she might have been a poor man’s Dido, but I’d love for her to come back and give it another shot. Thank you, Guy, for sharing with us this lovely gem.
STREAM: Jem – Silly Thing (Demo For Madonna)
You can read the story behind it on Jem’s blog. Apparently, she’s working in film production now?
Saint Etienne have become somewhat of a serial cover mount tribute CD contributor as of late. Roughly 2 months after their Beach Boys cover for Mojo, the band has once again lent their reinterpreting talent to Q’s Amy Winehouse issue. They picked “Just Friends”, their least favourite track on “Back To Black”, for fear of ruining the better ones, but I think they did an excellent job. I could be fooled into thinking it’s a St. Et. original had I not known better. As Louis Walsh would say, they really “made the song their own”.
Preview 30 secs of each track here, though I should warn you it features bits from ‘The Cribs’ and ‘The View’. View the full tracklist after the jump.
If you happen to subscribe to Mojo Magazine, the latest issue comes with a free CD of “Pet Sounds” covers in celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Beach Boys. Saint Etienne contributed their part with a lovely version of the iconic track one “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”. It starts with a lush a cappella intro, then merges into a mellow bossa nova summer groove. It’s definitely something nice to tide me over while waiting impatiently for the new album to come out. It’s not the first time Saint Etienne covered a Beach Boys song, having done “Stevie” for another tribute compilation before.
STREAM: Saint Etienne – Wouldn’t It Be Nice (The Beach Boys Cover)
Are you still clinging to what little’s left of summer sunshine? Well, the new Kings of Convenience video won’t make things easier. Here’s what Erlend & Eirik have to say about this rather unexpected present:
“This song is from Declaration of Dependence, that was released almost 2 years ago. We thought it deserved a video and 2 weeks ago the weather-forecast was good. We called up our friends (who has got some rather advanced video shooting equipment) and made this one-take video, on top of Eirik’s roof. The audio is the album-recording of the song. Bergen is not always as nice as this, but it’s days like this that makes us want to live here.”
Now that’s a lovely way to bid adieu to summer.
For the occasion, how about a nice bonus b-side? Here’s their rare cover of Badly Drawn Boy’s “Once Around The Block”, originally released on the Toxic Girl single back in 2001. That’s 10 years ago!