From rock ‘n’ roll to jazzy pop
Covering another artist’s music is never an easy feat. But covering a music icon, changing the genre and still managing to stay true to your sound and theirs? Practically impossible. Yet that is exactly what The Bird and the Bee set out to do with their newest release, Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2 (A Tribute to Van Halen).
The Bird and the Bee are an indie-pop duo from Los Angeles consisting of vocalist Inara George and producer Greg Kurstin. Kurstin has also worked and produced for many popular artists including Adele, Kendrick Lamar and the Foo Fighters. George and Kurstin met while working together on her debut album thus deciding to create the duo The Bird and the Bee and focusing on a more pop and jazz sound.
On their website, Geroge and Kurstin make it clear just how long Van Halen have musically influenced their lives and how excited they were to take on this project. In Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2 (A Tribute to Van Halen), The Bird and the Bee channel their typical jazzy pop sound and mesh it with the structure and lyrics of some of Van Halen’s greatest hits. In their cover of “Hot for Teacher,” for example, they keep the drums that are so prominent in the original but make it sound more electric, almost more futuristic, while omitting the famous electric guitars. As in their rendition of “Panama,” they replace the intense guitars and drums from Van Halen’s version with their signature jazzy piano sound.
Perhaps the song that sounds the most like jazz is “Runnin’ with the Devil,” with its pronounced piano and old-school vocals which make it sound the least like its original counterpart. In fact, that strong jazzy piano coupled with clear vocals is very reminiscent of something off of a Sara Bareilles album. Even in “Ain’t Talking ‘bout Love,” The Bird and the Bee manage to make the once true rock classic into a softer, slightly sultry pop ballad. However, maybe the cover most like its namesake is “Jump.” The original already leans a little more ’80s synth-pop influenced, so The Bird and the Bee definitely took that concept and ran with it for their own interpretation. Throughout the project, The Bird and the Bee keep that currently popular indie influence at the forefront, make great use of vocals and layering to keep the styles of the songs true to the originals but true to their own sound as well.
If you’re a fan of The Bird and the Bee’s older projects, worry not, this album still holds the very essence of their fundamental sound that put them on the scene, to begin with. While the sound of Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2 (A Tribute to Van Halen) cannot be mistaken for anything but indie-pop, the core of the songs still exude that unique Van Halen vibe. Turning the classic rock sound of Van Halen into a soft pop sound with a jazz flare seems a bit unachievable, but The Bird and the Bee manage it quite well.