29
Jan
12

(Bad) Cover Version #2: ‘Pop Muzik’ by Fuzzbox (2010)

The origin of the cover: Released as a single

Original recording artist: M

Grade: F

Here’s a question for you: what do Steps, Suede, Ultrasound, Spandau Ballet and Fuzzbox have in common?

The answer is that they have all reformed in recent years.

Some groups – such as Spandau Ballet – have recorded new and original material, while the likes of Suede have mainly stuck their former days of glory.

However, you could say that Fuzzbox may have been a tad astute when they marked their brief comeback in 2010 – albeit in the absence of original drummer Tina O’Neill – with a cover version of M’s ‘Pop Muzik’.

They could’ve returned to the pop scene with no strings attached, and no commitment to write and record an album; just a cheap cash-in to jump on the bandwagon.

The problem, though, was that Fuzzbox have never been any good at covering songs.

During the “We’ve Got A Fuzzbox And We’re Gonna To Use It” era, the group went through a phase of recording a series of ill-conceived covers.

It kept to their DIY punk ethos and free-spirited nature but, unfortunately, Fuzzbox put very little thought and effort into them.

Their hopeless recording of ‘Spirit In The Sky’ (which was originally a b-side to ‘Love Is The Slug’ and later resurfaced as a b-side to ‘Pink Sunshine’) had an interesting – if somewhat dirty sounding – bassline, without any other redeeming features.

Similarly, their cappella of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (which appeared as a b-side to ‘Self’ in 1989, after being recorded 1987) was out-of-tune and treated as a lazy joke.

Some people may class these versions as ironic or tongue-in-cheek, but cockiness and a lack of talent were far more prominent.

And when then they took their covers seriously – as seen in 1989’s flop single ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ – it came across as cold and forgettable.

Therefore, given the omens, it shouldn’t surprise you that their version of ‘Pop Muzik’ is just as bad as their other covers.

From the start, it’s hackneyed and laboured; at least their covers in the 1980s had some misplaced enthusiasm.

The track has the inevitable attempts to modernise Fuzzbox’s sound with subtle electro-pop undertones, but there’s a distinct lack of freshness.

However, what’s surprising – for a group that seemed to pride itself of its energy – is that their acceptance of their blandness.

They’re clearly jaded, but the spirit and ideas have gone; it almost sounds like that they didn’t want to reform in the first place.

Fuzzbox peaked when they were a bubblegum girl band with guitars and no pretension, and this version of ‘Pop Muzik’ may have worked if it had retained the slick production values of tracks like ‘Pink Sunshine’.

The brash arrogance has gone, but the lack of effort to hide their apathy is telling.

This is not pop music, it’s nothing.

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