[Part 2 in an ongoing series that seeks to cover Justin Bieber’s hit song “Baby” in as many genres as possible. Check out Part 1, the Punk Rock version, if you haven’t already.]
Welcome to Part 2 of The “Baby” Project. Put on your cowboy hat, ostentatious belt buckle, and other stereotypical Southern accoutrements, because we’re going Country with this edition:
Yee-haw! What in tarnation is going on here?
For those of you less familiar with country music, particularly the older variety, you should take a moment to acquaint yourself with two of the major influences for this version of “Baby.” First, for the swung rhythm, I was channeling Hank Williams (Sr.). This recording of “Honky Tonk Blues” is a good example:
And for the baritone vocal delivery and countrified inflections, I was channeling George Strait’s recording of “All My Exes Live in Texas”:
To me, the main difference between the punk and country versions of this song was that for the country version, I had to make some significant additions to the song in order for it to work. The punk version was, not surprisingly, very stripped down and added little to the song that wasn’t there already. The country version, on the other hand, adds vocal harmonies and a twanging lead guitar on top of the melody and chords, neither of which have any roots in the original version. Although I’m trying to remain as faithful to the original as possible in this series, I did feel it necessary to make concessions for the sake of making the song work within the genre.
A couple of things changed, as well. First, due to the slower tempo, I had to cut one repetition from each of the choruses in order to keep the whole song from feeling too repetitive. Which of course raises the question, do the choruses of the original feel repetitive? Why or why not? And second, I changed the “yeah, yeah, yeah”s at the end of the song into “ooh, ooh, ooh”s after finding that the “yeah”s felt very out of place in a country song. Perhaps this is because we’re more accustomed to hearing “yeah” in African-American musical settings, and that as a result, they sound out of place in country, a predominately white musical genre?
Speaking of African-American musical elements in a country song, there’s that ludicrous Ludacris rap breakdown that threatens to turn every installment of The “Baby” Project into a musical joke. I’m contemplating removing it in future installments, but it survives in the country edition, and honestly, it’s not quite as laughable as I thought it would be when I sat down to record it. The slower tempo definitely helps in this regard, as does the fact that there’s a tradition of spoken word in country music. The aforementioned country music legend Hank Williams recorded several such songs under the pseudonym “Luke the Drifter”:
Or maybe it still sounds utterly ridiculous and out of place. Let me know in the comments! And if you haven’t already, feel free to make additional suggestions for the next installment of The “Baby” Project. I’m going to start recording it within the next few days and have a little time to take additional feedback into consideration.
Since you probably want these covers of “Baby” on your iPod/iPhone/music playing device at all times, we’re now offering MP3 downloads of the songs for your convenience. Enjoy!