Devo–Satisfaction

One of the greatest covers of all time, Devo obliterate any memory of The Rolling Stones with their version of Satisfaction.  Doing away completely with Keith Richards iconic opening guitar riff and Mick Jagger’s pleasingly smooth vocal, they instead create a jagged, angular space meant to produce unease.  It’s the complete opposite of everything The Stones so brilliantly accomplished: it’s deranged, mechanical and anti-dance.  Mark Mothersbaugh’s stilted, atonal vocals sound like the rantings of a madman at best, a skipping record at worst.  Yet the band have amazingly managed to reveal new layers in a  straightforward song that is universally known.  Devo push it from an innocuous tale of youthful ennui into a seizing meditation on the existential dread of modern life.  The real genius is the through-line between the two, the fact that it might take a surprisingly small nudge to get from one to the other.  By remaking a song we all thought we know into a vital piece of their dystopian vision, Devo achieve the almost impossible: they’ve owned the song more than its creators, and made it feel more relevant and vital.  The Rolling Stones wrote an all-time classic pop masterpiece, but Devo spun postmodern art out of FM gold.

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