MUSIC

OK Go Cover Morrissey for a Political Performance on James Corden

The band turns "Interesting Drug" into a guitar-driven rock song with a video aimed directly at the incoming President.

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You turn on The Late Late Show with James Corden because OK Go are performing and you know that's going to be a fun show. The Grammy-winningband behind some of the best, most mesmerizing, most innovative music videos of this century—"Here It Goes Again," "This Too Shall Pass," "White Knuckles" and, most recently, "The One Moment"—carries a reputation for stunning visuals and exciting stunts. Their newest album, 2014's Hungry Ghosts, features more of their favorite electronic pop/rock songs, high vocals, and precise rhythms.

What you might not expect from the band is a cover of a Morrissey song, especially one as politically potent as "Interesting Drug," and a performance of the cover just a day before the inauguration of the next U.S. President. Yesterday afternoon, they released their cover along with a music video on YouTube that takes any ambiguity out of the lyrics and their subject(s).

"There are some bad people on the rise," sings Damian Kulash, lead vocalist, and the video immediately flashes the first of many hilariously timed video clips and photos of the President-Elect-for-one-more-day and his gang of unfortunate beings. "They're saving their own skins by ruining people's lives," he sings with a smirk in their performance on Corden's show, totally aware of the comic intention.

The cover, as it's especially evident in the video, is aimed in the opposite direction of anger, at humor. The band is making fun of the PEOTUS with meme-worthy images flashed between heavy lyrics. Even Morrissey's lyrics, which are unchanged except one line, are stylistically light, simple, restrained. "There are some bad people" sounds casual compared to a song off American Idiot or London Calling.

The song does create more specific images: "You married couple in debt, ever felt had?" The song criticizes the gap between the always-rich power class and those stuck in their system. "Oh mum, oh dad, once poor always poor," he sings. The song would be relevant for this moment if that was the lyrics' only target, but OK Go make one tiny change to aim their cover exactly where they want it.

Morrissey's pre-chorus repeats the line, "A government scheme designed to kill your dream." OK Go changes the last repetition to call out a more specific subject: "A Russian scheme designed to kill your dream." If it wasn't already, completely obvious by the video and the timeliness of its release, its intention is inescpable after that. That explains why OK Go won't be performing at the inauguration.

"Look around, can you blame us? Can you blame us?" Kulash sings at the end of the performance, echoing the desperate thoughts of so many people wondering how things have become so divided and how each side is so unable to have dialogue with the other. But many style points to the band for taking the humor route instead of the angry or hurtful. They've put together a great cover of a great song that would be a joy to listen to, even without any political context. The video's a success, too—it's refreshing to laugh with fun and not shame at images of the new guy.

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