Andy Refheldt is a Los Angeles based musician and host of a Youtube channel which has for a few years now been having a lot of fun with popular videos and musical styles.
What he does is take a song rooted in one style and then by recording his own backing tracks and sometimes adding new vocals too changes it in to a whole new style, and in the process he creates something that is highly post-modern and also loads of fun to listen to. Ever wanted to hear (and see) a Death Metal version of ‘Moves Like Jagger’? How about a Reggae version of Megadeth’s ‘Symphony of Destruction’? Or Motley Crue in a Bossa Nova styleeee? Then Andy’s your man. Sometimes he throws a bunch of styles together, such as in his Jazz Country Metal version of Eminem’s ‘Love The Way You Lie’. Admittedly, the results achieve varying levels of success (although all of the aforementioned are well worth checking out) and for some music fans amongst you the effect might not be that interesting or amusing. However if you’re interested (I am, I am!) then there is much entertainment to be gleaned from his reinventions. Here’s three video’s that are not only favourites but represent in a broad fashion what it is he does…
Culture Club – Karma Chameleon (Metal version)
Andy’s favourite trick is to turn out Metal versions of songs completely outside the idiom with often startling and hilarious results. This is a perfect example. What you have to understand is that it is not just about the audio but the visuals too. What makes this work so well is the perfect synchronicity between the two that creates a rather unsettling juxtaposition between what you expect and what you in fact get. And what you get is Boy George with a voice like Satan, and the band ‘performing’ something in a style that is completely counter-intuitive to your expectations. Yet it works! There are many other Metal versions worth checking out (Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ being one of them) but none that capture this strand of Andy’s reinventions better than this.
Metallica – Enter Sandman (Smooth Jazz version)
This works kind of in reverse to the last example. Instead of Metalling-up here he Metals-down if you like. Unlike the last example this retains the original James Hetfield vocal but restyles the track in a genuinely satisfying way. And this is the difference between the two examples so far: the first is clearly a musical joke, and is created for amusement and nothing more, however whilst there is an element of that here this is also actually a decent and listenable reworking of the song at hand. At first I was amused by hearing these Metal stalwarts seemingly ‘perform’ something closer to Steely Dan, but by the end I was genuinely enjoying the way the track had been re-imagined. I found myself thinking that maybe Metallica should record a Jazz-Metal album. Then I imagined how horrible that would in all likelihood sound and stopped myself from imagining any further. Then I listened to this again with a big smile on my face….
Chris Brown ft. Busta Rhymes – Look At Me Now (Polka version)
Some of the best things he does involve the Polka style (check out his slightly demented version of Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’) and for sheer laugh-out-load kicks none work better than this. It works on a number of levels. Firstly, because we all loathe Chris Brown (we do, right?) and this makes ridiculous fun of him. Secondly, because the rapping actually seems to almost made for this style and fits perfectly. And lastly, because once again the audio-visual rupture is fantastic. The dancers actually seem to be dancing the Polka, and the comic elements of the music puncture completely the self-important air of Brown and Rhymes, and by extension this kind of self-aggrandising Hip-Pop that has become all too prevalent in recent years. You just know that Brown himself would fail to see the funny side, and that just makes me laugh a little harder.
What I love about these examples and the gist of his YT channel itself is the sheer sense of musical irreverence and the way he plays with common musical literacy and familiarity. We all know Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World. We all know what Metal and Reggae sound like. Yet hearing the unfamiliar result of them all together skews that in a wholly amusing (the first time round, at least) fashion. Thank you Andy Refheldt, we here at MVD salute you!