Australia’s Triple J radio station has a series called “Like A Version,” where artists stop by the studio to perform cover songs. This is the same segment that brought you Sharon Van Etten’s delightful cover of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ “People Ain’t No Good.” And now the Dirty Projectors recently stopped by Triple J for their own shot at a cover. What did they choose? Usher’s “Climax.” The Dirty Projectors covered Usher’s “Climax.” If reading that sentence made your eyes widen in fear and disbelief, then prepare to have your nightmare realized.
The band’s cover is, well, it’s not good. This obviously has nothing to do with the Dirty Projectors’ skills as performers; David Longstreth, Amber Coffman and the rest of their rotating cast are extremely talented. But this has everything to do with the fact that the Dirty Projectors specialize in herky-jerky rhythms and start-stop melodic lines. The Dirty Projectors often include R&B vocal trills in their songs, but going full-tilt into the genre just doesn’t work for them. Coffman sells it way more than Longstreth, and the bridge is the most not-awful part, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you are an Usher fan—and admittedly, some of us at CMJ are really, totally into Usher—you’re not going to like this. It’s as awkward and un-sexy as that cover your college a cappella group did of Ginuwine’s “Pony.”