PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Amanda Palmer: Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele

Photo (partial) by Brian Viglione

Kindly refer to album title.

Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele

Label: 8ft. Records
US Release Date: 2010-07-17
UK Release Date: 2010-07-17

There's no written law that expressly forbids people from covering Radiohead songs, but the general consensus is that it's just not a good idea. It has been well established that the members of Radiohead are actually aliens who have continued to bewitch and befuddle us earth folk with their divine musical super-powers for the last two decades. Not even the most talented among us posses the wherewithal to reproduce something on par with what the band has created. It's of little surprise that the few successful Radiohead covers projects tend to be instrumental (the Classical piano recreations of Christopher O'Riley) or vast departures from the source material (Easy Star All-Star's reggae infused Radiodread).

Enter Amanda Palmer, one-time Dresden Doll and noted slayer of sacred cows. With the Dolls on indefinite hiatus, Palmer has tripled her workload. She has published a book with fiancé Neil Gaiman, adapted Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea for the high school stage, and will spend the Fall of 2010 as the Emcee in a Boston A.R.T. production of Cabaret. The jewel in her crown to date, though, is Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, her astonishing Ben Folds-produced solo album. Though the album was a critical success, Palmer's relationship with Roadrunner Records was damaged beyond repair when, according to Palmer, the label demanded shots of Palmer's stomach be removed from the video for album track "Leeds United".

To celebrate her escape from major label tyranny, Palmer has elected to treat her loyal fan base to an EP of Radiohead covers. On the aptly titled Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele, Palmer looks to pay her respects to the band's music as well as their business acumen. Palmer is self-releasing the EP and charging fans a quite reasonable 84 cents for a download. While most of that loose change will end up in Radiohead's coffers, Palmer has bundled the EP with a good deal of homemade swag. If a limited edition vinyl doesn't bring home the experience for you, there are hand painted ukulele's to be purchased at 1,000 bucks a whack.

As for the EP itself -- it comes pretty much as advertised. For an artist as fearless and unpredictable as Amanda Palmer, it's disappointing to find a track list consisting of the same safe Radiohead songs routinely covered in coffeehouses all across the land. While she effectively recreates Thom Yorke's vocal tics, adding spot-on harmonies along the way, there's nothing particularly exciting or revelatory in Palmer's takes on "Fake Plastic Trees" or "No Surprises".

The EP comes to life only briefly when Palmer's playful side surfaces. While the world scarcely needs another cover of "Creep", it's impossible not to smile when Palmer adorably attempts to mimic Jonny Greenwood's legendary pre-chorus guitar stutters on her ukulele. Her galloping take on the twitchy "Idioteque" makes one wish that she'd tackled more post-Kid A material. Ironically, the most successful cover here is the ukulele free cover of "Exit Music (for a film)". Recorded live at the Sydney Opera House, the piano-and-string-soaked track suggests that Palmer has the goods to compete with Radiohead without sounding foolish.

Until she decides to re-arrange In Rainbows for dog symphony, her inoffensive ukulele ditties will have to suffice.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.