Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Butler, Mark. "Taking it Seriously: Intertextuality and Authenticity in Two Covers by the Pet Shop Boys." Popular Music 22 (January 2003): 1-19.

Artistic authenticity is a central concern in the genre of rock music. "Covering" previously recorded songs directly involves rock and popular bands' rendering of a cover song as either authentic or artificial (inauthentic). Two cover songs by the Pet Shop Boys exemplify two opposing notions of authenticity. Their cover of U2's Where the Streets Have No Name casts the original version as artificial, as the Pet Shop Boys ignore the original song's emphasis on individuality, undermine the structural importance of motivic elements, recast the song in a quasi-disco style, and make other significant musical changes. On the other hand, the Pet Shop Boys' version of Go West heightens the authenticity of the Village People's version. The song evokes the climate of "1970s urban gay culture," with an emphasis on community and the freedom to be liberated by going west. The Pet Shop Boys' cover not only recaptures the Village People's message, placing it in its 1970s pre-AIDS culture, but also uses musical devices to also evoke the song's new context in an post-AIDS culture. For example, the interaction among the musicians seems more formally restrained, which resembles the heightened sense of caution members of the gay community must take in an AIDS-stricken world. Ultimately, the Pet Shop Boys' Go West celebrates the history of gay culture and casts the Village People's version as authentic.

Works: Bono (Paul Hewson) and U2: Where the Streets Have No Name as performed by the Pet Shop Boys (4-7); Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali, and Victor Willis: Go West as performed by the Pet Shop Boys (7-15).

Sources: Bono (Paul Hewson) and U2: Where the Streets Have No Name (2-6); Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio: Can't Take My Eyes Off You as performed by Frankie Valli and by Boystown Gang (5-6); Henri Belolo, Jacques Morali, and Victor Willis: Go West (7-12); Pachelbel: Canon in D (13).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Victoria Malawey

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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