Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Jonas Blue ft. Dakota – Fast Car

So many cover versions. Everyone’s got a fast car these days…


Cassy Gress: I am morally opposed to house covers of Tracy Chapman hits, but I am open to reconsideration of this view in the event of a particularly good one.  This ain’t it.  As a standalone house track it’s… fine, although that opening “Ooohhhhaaawhoooa” is terrible and it sounds like she turned into a cat in the middle of it.  But it’s very hard, at least for me, to hear a cover of something when I have heard the original a thousand times and not mentally overlay the original on top of the cover.  From that perspective, this doesn’t work a bit.

Iain Mew: Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” is a song few listeners will be unfamiliar with. Its UK chart peak (#4) was not in 1988, but in 2011, after a performance of the song by Britain’s Got Talent contestant Michael Collings. It has reached a place of such comfortable high presence that, in Jonas Blue’s UK context, you’d have to do something quite startling with it to make another return worthwhile. Purposefully unobtrusive house where the vocal is a shadow of the original and the synths imitate panpipes is not that treatment.

Alfred Soto: I’m not opposed to a Eurodisco cover of the Tracy Chapman classic, but 1995’s Nicki French cover of “Total Ecilpse of the Heart” had better beats.

Thomas Inskeep: I am so fucking sick of these “dance” covers of older songs which gleefully strip them of all meaning: “This is easy to do and some people who remember the original might like it too! And be sure to make it ‘tropical house,’ cuz that’s hot right now!” Dakota doesn’t understand a fucking thing about these lyrics, I can promise you, and Jonas Blue should be ashamed – but I’m sure he’s too busy counting his cash to feel anything. This makes me actively angry and I wish utter failure for those involved in its “creation.” Watch this performance of Tracy Chapman’s original instead and feel its power all over again.

Will Adams: “Fast Car” has been covered approximately five billion times, so at this
point, any discrepancy in emotional value doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s a natural choice, whether for fake deep crooners looking for a fast-grab at listeners who love the original or for DJs, who can easily spin the familiar guitar hook for the dancefloor. So covering or remixing it is at once safe and risky; there’s immediate gratification from catching listeners’ attention, but also the easy opportunity to compare it to superior versions. And superior they are: Tobtok’s cover (also released this year) is less concerned with the serious message and preserves the guitar figure, Sharon O’Love got a singer who at least tried to sound like Chapman, and actual bootleg mixes make more room for interesting departures. Jonas Blue and Dakota’s take is as safe and bland trop-house as you would expect in early 2016. Dakota emotes for the sake of it, the flute synth’s appogiaturas attempt to humanize the melody but sound obviously programmed in, and piano chords are set to autopilot. Jonas Blue can take solace, though; at least he’s not Xiu Xiu.

Brad Shoup: I think the Chapman original is still my brother’s favorite song; mine might be “3,000 Miles.” Close enough, I guess. I think they’re of a piece. He hasn’t texted back with his reaction to this. I’m cool on it. It’s better than the Tobtok take,
if only because it goes full tropical. Chapman’s immortal lick is suggested by piano, then turned into a pipping trill. Similarly, Dakota discards Chapman’s real-time negotiating, preferring to render the situation coolly. There’s no induced sense of stakes; the words are deemed enough.

Edward Okulicz: I don’t like Tracy Chapman. It’s not rational. It comes from how “Give Me One Reason” hung around in the charts so long and felt like it went for six minutes even though it didn’t and how I used to suffer through an awful middle-aged trivia night host with a bad moustache who would mark the questions while pumping this on the pub’s PA and soulfully miming along to it. But I appreciate at least the verses of “Fast Car” as nakedly vulnerable and optimistic, and the chords under it are classic. You can see what attracted people to sample and cover it. This version just leaves the whole thing as sterile, as if the story’s not important and it’s just a song about a fast car, which it isn’t.

Scott Mildenhall: DJ Sharon O Love must be seething. His version of this was going to be a hit a decade ago before being pulled for some triviality called “clearance issues,” and while it was a bit different to this (and better), it was also pretty much the same. Lots of people like “Fast Car,” and so it’s always been a handy jumping-off point, whether for Gabrielle, or that bloke off Britain’s Got Talent, or anyone else with little imagination and a guitar. It’ll probably only be another ten years before “Fast Car” is a hit again, barely changed and just about living off the original.

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4 Responses to “Jonas Blue ft. Dakota – Fast Car”

  1. I’m not mad about this. Jonas Blue was probably the most obvious about jacking “Fast Car,” but a lot of people are stealing from it these days (e.g. Old Dominion’s “Nowhere Fast”)

  2. I enjoyed the disagreement on which dance cover is the best. For me, it’s Jonas Blue < Tobtok < Sharon O'Love < the Soundskin bootleg

  3. “Clubby beats laid out before us and your synths felt nice wrapped round my chorus”

  4. “and iiiii had a feeling that this was bland
    iiii had a feeling i could sing that song, sing that song, sing that song”