This is a very quality live jazz cover of “Tainted Love” but I’ll give you two guesses as to what I don’t like about it, and the first doesn’t count. (My wife immediately sussed it out, if that’s a hint.) Otherwise, it’s hella fun!
Music Video - Mediaclature
THE ROCKABILLY RAVENS – “Tainted Love” 
You might not expect me to be a big rockabilly fan, but I am! It’s so joyful and I love the brass and boisterous voices!
Consequently, I find this cover absolutely delightful, although it is oddly perfunctory, but I’ll take what I can get.
BROKEN PEACH – “Tainted Love (Halloween Special)” 
BROKEN PEACH are known for their outlandish, specialized Halloween-centric videos, and last year they chose to cover “Tainted Love” and it’s goddamn brilliant. Of all of the videos I’ll be posting in this series, it’s my favorite because it’s so goth.
Most covers of the song submit to being relatively demure, but this? This is all wild-eyes and abandon, and I cannot get enough of it. It has a crazed energy and sensuality and theatrics, and the video is fascinating as it posits the song as folks who are trying to heal (or pleasantly hurt) in a mental hospital.
It’s perfectly choreographed for an indie ensemble video, and the spiral kickdrum is the cherry on the top. It’s a video that leaves me feeling as delightfully exhausted as it appears they are, and what more could you want from that?
(There’s also a brief switch to “Sweet Dreams” and goddamn, it’s perfection. They fucking nailed what they wanted to do in every which way.)
“TAKE MY TEARS AND THAT’S NOT NEARLY ALL!”
“Tainted Love” Week
Welcome to “Tainted Love” week! “Tainted Love” is one of those few perfect pop songs that are amazingly specific, but at the same time can be construed in multi-faceted ways; it could be about a bad break-up, or could be about abuse or a traumatic relationship. There’s no wrong way to listen to it!
If you were/are a youth clubbing, this song — in one of its many variations — is an absolute staple. I can’t feature all of the covers — there are so many — but I can pinpoint my favorites, so buckle up!
M.I.A. “Bad Girls” (2012)
I’m not going to get into the politics of M.I.A. — and there’s definitely some questionable phrasing in “Bad Girls” — but I couldn’t help but think of this video from director Romain Gavras after watching RODEO. It’s an absolute banger and the video is quite the accomplishment and absolutely glorious. See for yourself:
“My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on my dashboard! My chain hits my chest when I’m banging on the radio!”
“Hands up! Hands tied!”
THE TING-TINGS – -That’s Not My Name- (2008)
For most of my life I went by a different name for weird reasons that were not my own. There was always a lot of confusion — it took me forever to finally pivot to the easiest solution and, truth be told, I’m not completely happy with it! It does not help that the name I go by is constantly misspelled. (I’ve harped on the Glenn-with-two-ns in the past!)
I realize that isn’t exactly the point of the song, but damn, I identify with it too much.
I fucking love this song, not just because of that though. It has a brilliant build-up; it absolutely glows and gives comfort! It’s so much fun, especially with all of the blonde and caps and bangs and primary colors and percussive naught-looks! It also has a confidence that I can’t help but allude to. Stupidly, while I’m far too old for this sort of thing, it’s 100% a song I’d bounce on my bed to.
“I miss the catch if they throw me the ball! I’m the last chick standing up against the wall!”
My favorite part of this video is how breathless it is at the end. I can never get enough of folks exhausting themselves.
THE AVALANCHES – FRONTIER PSYCHIATRIST
My wife introduced me to THE AVALANCHES, well before we were even engaged, and as it was all sampled-laden heaven, I loved it.
A few lines have stuck in my craw over the past few years:
The stuff about a bird hurts, because I stupidly and absolutely grew up around exotic birds. Climbed a tree to rescue one as a youth. And yeah, of course a parrot talks because it’s reaching out. I am literally written into a will to receive a parrot, which I’m sure our neighbors are not looking forward to.
The “tighten your buttocks” riff is something I can’t help but think HARLEY QUINN cribbed from.
Frankly, I’m of the opinion that the original is far stranger than anything served up in the multifaceted rendition, but I applaud its efforts!
“Life’s a picture you can’t read.”
P!NK – U + UR HAND (2006)
I don’t know how much you know about goth or industrial clubs — at least in Chicago (and excepting EXIT) — but the general rule is: don’t fucking touch strangers, which I realize sounds antithetical for dance clubs. (I’ll note: movies definitely misrepresent these spaces, almost to a dangerous degree.)
Sure, there’s the accidental bumping, but for the most part? The great part of these clubs are: let people dance their dance and don’t intrude. That was kind of a strange idea for clubs when I was growing up, in the age of MTV groping, but damn I’m so glad they had that ethos. I have a lot of issues, but these clubs were safe spaces which — again — I realize sounds antithetical for dance clubs. It helped that most of them were nested in queer communities. I’m stupidly physical, but also extremely wary of anyone who comes into my radius, so it was delightful to have clubs where I could just feel free. (It also helped that I occasionally was the DJ.)
The Chicago club bouncers are very good at their jobs, at being mindful of bad behavior. Hell, even my wife and I were kicked out of NEO [R.I.P.] once for being way too rambunctious, and rightfully so.
To me, that’s what U + UR HAND — both the song and video — is emblematic of:
“Don’t touch — back up.”
While I love the song, I adore the video, especially with it leaning on all sorts of characters and dystopian design. It’s a video I return to time-and-time again, and not just because it’s also heavily riffed on in the severely underrated and under-watched 12 MONKEYS TV show.
I was lucky enough to enjoy this song when it aired (even as an older dude and absolutely knew what this was fully about), but read the YouTube comments and see how influential P!NK has been. She does not get enough credit.
“Just let me have my fun to—night, all—right?”
GOTHAM KNIGHTS (2022)
Let me be upfront about GOTHAM KNIGHTS: this is not a great game. The primary issue isn’t its lackluster visual design of the major characters, which some have generously stated as looking like a generic mobile free-to-play game. Nor is it due to Gotham feeling oddly empty for a metropolis. (That said, given the fact that Gotham seems to be a villain paradise, why would one choose to live there as a civilian?) It’s simply that the game is trying to do too much, and manages to falter at almost every step. I feel for the devs because this is very clearly an extremely expensive game that took a lot of time and effort and money to make, but it never quite manages the effortless flow of the Rocksteady Batman games.
It doesn’t help that the game commits multiple cardinal sins such as bullet-sponges, bosses with fake-out health meters, cheap insta-deaths, and is brazen enough to recreate a spiritual successor level to one of the worst Batman levels of all time: the Batmobile levels of BATMAN RETURNS. (Ironically, this is definitely one of the most enjoyable Batmobiles of any Batman game I’ve played, but the one Batmobile level goes on for way too long.)
To be reductive, GOTHAM KNIGHTS feels like it’s cribbing from the recent ASSASSIN’S CREED games: it features a new leveling system, including superficial crafting of armor and weapons, on top of what was already a byzantine litany of combos and combat approaches. Every minute you get some new alert or notification or useless mod or unlockable. It’s not just that it’s overwhelming, but that very little of it actually matters.
Additionally, goddamn, some of the boss fights are the roughest — and I played the game on easy mode because life is too short. I hard-quit during both the Mr. Freeze and Clayface fights, and the end of the game — while abiding by the rule of threes — felt like a tad too much.
However! It is a very playable game with a gripping gameplay loop. I went solo as Batgirl and genuinely glowed during the Harley Quinn fight, mostly because of the brilliant cover of Ricky Martin’s -Livin’ La Vida Loca- by NOBRO, and I am not alone:
That is an absolutely perfectly commissioned needle-drop. I’ll also note: the Harley Quinn here? Not my favorite Harley, but I still found her to be intriguing!
I’d also like to note that, unlike many other games, GOTHAM KNIGHTS has a bunch of women goons of all shapes and sizes, and I can’t help but appreciate that because — usually — it’s all dudes.
I bought GOTHAM KNIGHTS despite having read the lukewarm reviews because I was in a mood where I just wanted something I could zone out to and mindlessly mission back-and-forth to and it delivered, as so many middlingly-reviewed games are prone to do. It’s not perfect, but it does have moments of brilliance, and in-between it’ll rarely frustrate you which, frankly, is all I need from a game, and hell, I may just replay it with the alternate characters! (I’ve read that Nightwing is especially delightful to play as.)
PULP – AFTER YOU [SOULWAX]
Unpredictably, I fucking love PULP. Them + Soulwax? Perfection.
That is all.