Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cube41: No, They Don't Care About Us

Hey all, sorry it's been a long while, but life happens. In any event, I'm back today with a great post on Cube41. I hadn't really heard from these Italian alternative rockers for about a year now (I know! a long time, but here they are again), but it seems that their time has been spent well: they're working on a new album, and have just released the first single and video on Youtube. Now, from the start, I'm way curious to see what these guys have got: their last music video for their song "Nasty Mind" (from the second release of their previous album, PLAY) was sick, and the song itself has crossover potential written all over it. You may remember that it's got a crunching guitar riff and bass line, as well as wicked strobes and vocals that blast forward in brash fury and alternative attitude. The drums, too, are exceptional, providing a rhythm that is altogether addictive. Listen here for a refresher:
But now the Cube guys have returned with something completely different, and I must admit that in the beginning, even I am confused. The first release from the as-of-yet untitled new album, a cover of Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us," seems an odd choice for an Italian alternative-rock band whose last video threw back to artists like Shiny Toy Guns and Nine Inch Nails. The video, too, is weird in the truest sense of the word. Simply a flash mob with the desired choreography and totally minimalist, Cube41 themselves don't even make an appearance in front of the camera, and even the song seems drawn back a little. Though the video is just a girl in a studio demonstrating the choreography to Cube41's new rendition of a Michael Jackson classic, the video is at first a disappointment as it's so far from what I saw in the "Nasty Mind" video. But then it dawns on me: these guys have evolved; grown in artistic musicality and performance direction; they don't need a front shot in a video to establish their dominance over the track. I listen once, twice, three times, four, and then it becomes addictive; Cube41 have succeeded here precisely because they've done away with the superfluous effects of their last video and focused solely on the music. The "video" then is just a transport by which Cube41 can debut their new song to the public. In it, I at first think it's Michael Jackson himself singing, expecting some dramatic change to happen any moment now. But then I realize that this is them, this is Cube41; they have succeeded in their cover so brilliantly that I couldn't even tell it was a cover. They own this song and with the intrepid vocals laying staunchly over reverb guitar, and a bass/drum combo that makes the song.
The video of the flash mob in the main square of Cube41's hometown, Verona, Italy, is a powerful sight. In addition to having the power of an unexpected performance, when coupled with Cube41's cover of the Michael Jackson's classic track, the song takes on a guise it had never donned before. Is the cover minimalist? Yes. Is it odd and unexpected? Yes. Does it work? Yes! Yes! Yes! Cube41 have triumphed in their stripped-down cover of a Jackson classic, and prove that they can hold their own against the King of Pop while at the same time nodding to his legacy. Do they really care about us? I don't know, but after this cover, they should.

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