The Dangers of Pretension.

I’m a bit obsessed with this shaggy-but-epic cover, by the British musician Cass Lowe and a bunch of other people, of The Shins “New Slang” and Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic”. Trust me for a moment, and just listen to it: The violin that comes in at about 2:40 just kills me, I can’t even stand it. What I love about this video is not only that the musicians involved are clearly both talented and enjoying themselves, but the lack of pretension about the whole undertaking. From a hipster standpoint, there’s certainly a lot here to scoff at. The Shins, who were once critical darlings, have lost much of their cachet because of their intense promotion in Zach Braff’s Garden State (a statement that is true of “New Slang” in particular). And Coldplay is, well, Coldplay. “Don’t Panic” was the opener to their first album, Parachutes, which came out before the band became everyone’s favorite whipping boy, but it’s still representative of everything people hate about the band. Yet there’s no snark in this video, no knowing winks or smirking looks. There’s no sense that we, the audience, are in on some kind of joke, as there often is in these sorts of covers (see: this). Instead there seems to be an underlying respect for the integrity of the original songs - these guys are pouring their hearts out - and it’d be a lot easier to laugh at them for it (Coldplay?) if what they mined from those songs wasn’t so undeniably impressive.