Week 2 Task

This week I’d like to test the collaborative capabilities of Spotify. I’ve created a playlist entitled ‘MED332 Week 2 Task Black popular music

  1. I’d like you to add a song that you think best represents the appropriation of black music by a different culture. I’ve started it off with Elvis’s cover of Arthur Crudup.
  2. Leave a comment below explaining your choice
  3. Be prepared to explain your selection in class

If you want to read some articles dealing with this topic (for inspiration) then try this Time feature, this Noisey/Vice article, and this article from the Daily Beast

You should be able to find it using one of the following links:

MED332 Week 2 Task Black popular music (web URL)

MED332 Week 2 Task Black popular music (Spotify URL)

By Rob Jewitt

Module Leader for MED332 and editor of

17 replies on “Week 2 Task”

My first set of songs are ‘My Girl’ – The Temptations and ‘I Need A Woman’ by McFly. I chose these two because the bass line at the beginning of both songs are very much alike. After doing a bit of research, I have found that the members of McFly took inspiration from the original song, written by Smokey Robinson. ‘My Girl’ kind of celebrated having a woman, whereas the McFly song has gone the opposite way by claiming they NEED a woman. *waves arm in the hair* I’m over here, guys!

The second set of songs that I’ve stumbled across are ‘You Don’t Have To Go’ by Eddie Cusic and ‘Down The Road’ by C2C. As you can hear, the Eddie Cusic song is very much related to the Jazz/Blues genre, which has been totally transformed when you listen to it’s modern name remake by C2C. It’s kind of turned a song which wouldn’t appeal to very many people today and MAKING it appeal to them with an electronic beat.

Me too, though they rejected my submission because they don’t wanna acknowledge film samples :'(

So, I’ve decided to bring up an 80’s entry into the fold of this little task. Prince’s “Kiss” (1986) and the synthpop extravaganza of Art of Noise’s cover of “Kiss” (1988).

I’m sure most people are familiar with both but its definitely interesting to see where the original took influence from the 12 bar blues in its construction while also taking some reference from vocalists like Little Richard from years gone by (especially the screaming finish to the song!).

However the later ‘white’ cover by Art of Noise in my opinion seems to lose something in its synth-style and “sexbomb” vocals from Tom Jones (but maybe thats just me!)

Another thing to say is that (im not too sure as I wasn’t born in the 80’s) there was only two years between the two versions of the song…Maybe it shows a difference in preferred style of music from two different countries at that time?

I guess the billboard and chart rankings back this up too!

Prince’s ‘Kiss’:

U.S Billboard Hot 100: #1
UK Singles chart: #6

Art of Noise’s ‘Kiss’:

U.S Billboard Hot 100: #31
UK Singles chart? #5

Regardless, I like the classic Prince version better. What about you guys?

This song choice may seem a bit of an odd choice (and may not even be relevant to the task) but it’s the only song I could think of to be honest.

I’ve chosen Dusty Springfield’s ‘Wishin and Hopin’. The reason why is partly due to the duet between Dusty and Martha Reeves (lead singer of Martha and the Vandellas) and the fact that Dusty was hugely influenced by Motown in America.

The duet comes from a Motown special hosted by Dusty in 1965 and it can be argued that she introduced Motown music to the UK audience and ultimately popularising soul music in this country as she was well known for soul ballads.

I’ve included “Easy” by Faith No More, a cover of the Lionel Richie-fronted Commodores classic, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ cover of the classic 1973 funk hit “Higher Ground”, by Stevie Wonder.

Richie took country and western inspiration for the slow balled “Easy”, with the intention of it being a crossover hit for the group.

More here:

Stevie Wonder wrote “Higher Ground” in 1973 and reached #4 in the US Billboard chart. California’s premier white funk exponents Red Hot Chili Peppers cover the hit in 1989, for their album “Mother’s Milk”. Greeted with less critical success, it reached #26 in the US Mainstream Rock Chart.

More here:

P.S. I’ve also added Vanilla Fudge’s “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, a cover of The Supremes’ 1966 #1 hit. The main reason for this is it garnered less success than it’s black forebear, similar to “Higher Ground”, again highlighting the increasing popularity of African-American music on a white American audience. Plus it’s also one of my very favourite songs!

I’e gone in a little bit of a different direction and added The Prodigy’s 1992 hit “Out of Space”. The song heavily features a sample from Max Romeo’s 1972 Reggae hit “Chase The Devil”, as well as a sample from “Critical Beatdown” by black Hip Hop duo the Ultramagnetic MC’s.

The prodigy took two songs from very different genres of black music and mixed them together creating a composition that fits another totally different genre altogether.

Ah, I love, love, love the Max Romeo song. I also, ahem, have danced enthusiastically to the Prodigy version. I quite liked the way The Qemists reworked the breaks for this version:

(Including links here too as I’m unsure if I’ve used spotify correctly.)

Burial: Unite.

There are at least two ways in which the track can be seen as an appropriation of black music:

1) Though currently the most successful contemporary electronic/dance musicians have a tendency to be white males (also true of Burial) this kind of electronic music is arguably derived from techno, which was invented by 3 black men that comprised Detroit Techno.

2) Sample-based music inherently revels in appropriation, and therefore the second way in which this track appropriates black music is through vocal samples, which are perhaps one of the most overt/direct examples of appropriation. Some may argue that the title is apt in that the track sees the unison of Gladys Knight (soul), Brandy (R & B), Chaka Khan (Funk) and Tamia (whose music spans the genres of R&B, neo soul, hip hop soul, pop, gospel, jazz, and soft rock) all in one track by way of a British future garage producer.

Forest Swords: The Weight of Gold.

Forest Swords, i.e. Matthew Barnes, is an English musician/producer. In The Weight of Gold an amalgamation of various cultural influences can be heard – whilst the guitar, vocals and synth sound like they operate primarily in the harmonic minor scale (traditionally associated with eastern European music), the rhythm section borrows just as distinctly from traditional dub which grew out of reggae, as becomes particularly evident around 1:40 onwards.

I can’t work out how to add to the Spotify playlist, but I have chosen the John Mayer Trio cover of “I Got A Woman” by Ray Charles.

The cover, unlike the original version of the song, includes heavier instruments, such as the guitar, which replaces the use of brass instruments in the original.

The original song was recorded in 1954, and was considered a “prototype” for soul music, and has since been covered by many other artists, and reached no. 1 in the R&B charts in January 1955.

The John Mayer Trio covered the song on tour in 2005, and gave the song a “rockier” edge with the use of distorted guitars and embellishments.

Hi Catherine

Are you able to see the playlist in Spotify? I think you may need to ‘follow’ the playlist and then you should be able to drag a track from the main window into it

Hi Rob,
On Spotify I have posted Love in Vain by Robert Johnston and The Rolling Stones and You Need Love/Loving by Muddy Waters and The Small Faces. There seems to be a number of these playlists, I have added mine to the 2015 playlist (the one above seems to be 2014!) Anyway I have chosen these as examples of blatant appropriation of black music by white artists. The first one by The Stones is a cover version, with added instrumentation (bass and percussion). The Small Faces song differs from Muddy Water’s version of Willie Dixon’s original, with slightly different lyrics and with a more instruments. These songs obviously leads onto Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta love’ which involves a measure of both with added lyrics and musical interpretation. I just hope I have updated the correct playlist!

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