“Motion Picture Soundtrack”
To cover a Radiohead song is to take a great chance — one that runs the risk of ruining the original, in some form or manner. Producer Shallou, however, just about manages to pull off this feat, transforming the grief-stricken anthem into his own version of melancholia, brimming with hope. That’s the beautiful thing about covers – they allow us an alternate understanding, they allow us a different outlook and are a proof of the fact that one song is never just one song – within a song, there are hundreds of other songs, some sadder, some quieter, some loud, some cheery but all of them – all of them lovely. That’s also the thing about music – it never has the same meaning, the same value for everyone and therein lies its infinite possibility: Its complete beauty. Shallou’s cover of Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack” reminds us of all of this – and more.
Listen: “Motion Picture Soundtrack” – shallou
A soft chord. A softer progression finding it’s way into the song- then, a distinct voice chimes in, mournfully lingering over the trembling keys, the music settling at the end of every second line, almost as if it were breathing a sigh of relief.
Red wine and sleeping pills
Help me get back to your arms
Cheap sex and sad films
Help me get where I belong
In a short breath, the voice turns muffled and hazy, distant like a dream. Multiple voices join in, building, adding, fleshing out– creating a short, muddled chorus of “I think you’re crazy..” which falls into a second of silence. There is a slur of sound, a rising crescendo. A new movement. This is where Shallou’s track departs from its ancestor, swirling into an unreal, illusory merging of instrument and voice.
The song morphs into an intoxicating rush, rising into a splendour of sound against the soft clap of the beat, satin vocals emerging and disappearing in quick seconds, wisping their way in and out of the song. It begins to seem like a track lifted off the soundtrack of an arthouse film, an outtake from a long, summer drive along an ocean road; a montage of falling images in one’s head, of glimmering smiles and welcome rain, of auburn leaves spiralling from trees, of the sky stretched out blue and clear, of warm hands reaching for you.
Returning from hiatus, choral voices carry a sense of urgency with them, a sense of ending with them as the lyrics move across the chords,
Stop sending letters
Letters always get burned
It’s not like the movies
They fed us on little, white lies
The accusations also make a return over a mounting beat with “I think you’re crazy” starting soft and deliberate, rising with the swift drumming, fast-becoming an amalgam of elements with the vocals, the keys, the beat all rushing towards something.
Here again, a soft chord and the distinct mournful voice returns, lamenting but also perhaps promising “I will see you again, in the next life.” The song ends on a chord and a spiralling of sound, the act of disappearing no longer restricted to the just lyrics but instead, manifested physically in the song itself as it fades away.
There is a tangible heaviness in the Radiohead version that can only barely be heard in Shallou’s rendition of the original angsty, elegiac song. Darker undertones are removed, replaced with a different atmosphere altogether; something that is more promising than punishing, more optimistic than opaque, allowing for both the feeling of suffering and relief to co-exist.
Listen: “Motion Picture Soundtrack” – Radiohead
While Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack” feels like a raw wound, an intimate journal entry, a painful glimpse into personal agony, Shallou offers us his own exploration of love and its miseries, taking us along on a different journey altogether. Through the merging haze of vocal and beat, of chord and quiet, of bleakness and hope, it becomes quite apparent that Shallou’s outlook is bittersweet – his song becoming a confirmation that it is indeed possible to be terribly sad and terribly happy at the same time.
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