Girl U Want: A Mostly True Story About My Favorite DEVO Song
If you’ve been following Fuck Yeah Ohio for a while, you know I’m a big fan of a little band that started in Akron named DEVO. What follows is an incomplete, but mostly true, and only slightly exaggerated, story about how my favorite DEVO song has taken on a life of it’s own. Let’s go…
[UPDATE: If you’re reading this on the Tumblr dashboard, click through to see and hear the video embeds at FuckYeahOhio.com.]
1980 - Birth
DEVO releases the original version of “Girl U Want”. It was new and it was good.
Then, things start to get really weird…
1992 - The First Big Cover
Soundgarden, the last band you’d ever expect to do a DEVO cover, covers “Girl U Want” by hitting New Wave over the head with a shovel, burying it in the back yard, and replacing it with sludge and sex. WARNING: Both women and men have been spontaneously impregnated by this version. If your girlfriend starts hanging up Chris Cornell posters after hearing this, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1994 - Wait… What?
Robert Palmer, the English musical genius behind the hits “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted to Love” decides to take a go at it. Where Soundgarden slowed it down, Robert Palmer took the opposite approach to making it his own. There’s nothing I can do to adequately prepare you for this. Robert Palmer’s trademark voice, backup singers, and super thick production are in place, but I’m pretty sure he’d been influenced by the golden age of industrial music, because oh, the guitars, the double bass drums… Just take a seat and listen for yourself.
1995 - One of the Best Ideas Ever
Courtney Love assembles the soundtrack to the new Tank Girl movie and it’s way better than any soundtrack in the 90’s has the right to be.
There’s a rumor that either Love or director Rachel Talalay originally wanted to use the Soundgarden cover of “Girl U Want” in the movie, but could not afford the licensing fees. What do you do when you can’t afford to license a Soundgarden cover of a DEVO song? You do the only thing you can do. You ask DEVO to reunite and cover the Soundgarden cover of a DEVO song. Because DEVO is full of geniuses, they agree and create what is possibly the best version of “Girl U Want” ever recorded.
Let this sink in: DEVO covers Soundgarden covering DEVO. It truly is a beautiful world we live in.
2006 - “Boy U Want”
an unholy pact a bizarre and complicated joke agreement with Walt Disney Records to create DEVO 2.0 (AKA: DEV2.0).
DEVO 2.0 featured child actors who would sing, dance, and act like they were playing instruments to music rerecorded by some of the original members of DEVO. As strange as that may already sound, the real weirdness comes in with Disney’s changes to the lyrics. Now, I would never recommend a child actor sing a song with as much innuendo in it as “Girl U Want” without changing some of the lyrics, but changing “She sings from somewhere you can’t see. She sits in the top of the greenest tree.” to “He sings from a place where you want to be. He surfs from the sky till he touches the sea.” just seems gratuitous.
2011 - A Little Bit Softer Now
Like many of the bands before them, Freelance Whales also take the New Wave out of “Girl U Want”, but they do it by slowly smothering it to death with warm embraces and a nice cup of chamomile tea. The song that started as a jerky and sexually frustrated little tune is now sweet and a little sad, but beautiful. It’s actually quite nice.
2012 - Into the Future
We’ve only scratched the surface of existing “Girl U Want” covers and I’m sure bands will continue to cover it well into the future. If I’ve missed your favorite, hit the submit.