The band Bastille acts like a stripper

The band Bastille acts like a stripper

or

“Why you up there dancing for cash? I guess a whole lot’s changed since I’ve seen you last.”

An Open Letter to Bastille, Regarding Their Version of This Song

 

Bastille,

“What would you do if your son was at home, crying all alone on the bedroom floor because he’s hungry… for an emotional range and your song destroys any chance for change?”

When you make this song poppier, more direct, and clearer, why do you also eliminate the whole point of its existence? The original is impactful. It’s an empowering parable. It says the suffering of single motherhood is beatable. You cut that part. Why?

  • Do you think an audience can only process one emotion per song?
  • Would you rather have memorable repetition than impact your listeners?
  • Is empowerment off-brand?

These cuts are a cop-out. They’re the bad version of selling out—not the “selling out” that just means “making money,” but the one that means making directly harmful art. Specifically, here’s what I’m talking about:

 

The original version of the song’s bridge, as written by City High:

(What would you do?)

Get up on my feet and let go of every excuse

’Cause I wouldn’t want my baby to go through what I went through.

(What would you do?)

Get up on my feet and stop making tired excuses

Girl, I know if my mother can do it, baby you can do it.

 

Bastille’s cover version:

(What would you do?)

Get up off my feet and stop making tired excuses

Get up off my feet and stop making tired excuses

(What would you do?)

Get up off my feet and stop making tired excuses

Get up off my feet.

 

Sure, this is a small change, but it’s the whole point of the song. As Wikipedia describes:

“The song, along with the accompanying music video, is a motivational anthem for single parents dealing with poverty and especially acknowledging all the single mothers who feel forced into prostitution due to the need to support their children.[4] It encourages them to keep strong, and keep going on for the sake of their loved ones, and passes no judgment on their profession.”

 

It’s a motivational anthem. To motivate someone, you have to change their emotional state. All you’ve changed is the song, from empowering to wallowing.

… And what about “Get up OFF my feet?” Your new line doesn’t make sense! The original line is “Get up ON my feet”—as in “get up and make a change.” Do you really mean to tell the stripper, “Relax! Take a load off?” Did you cover the song without first understanding it?

Without these changes, I’d prefer your version over City High’s, but you cut the only part that made me cry. I hope this is welcome commentary–if I made such a misstep (and I believe it’s a misstep, not just a matter of taste), I’d want someone to tell me. You might have cut the track to make it more digestible or easier to play on the radio. But even through the corporate lens, if a song has no effect, why listen again?

I listen to City High’s version on repeat to feel better. It moves me. It makes me want more than their one released album. When I hear your version, I feel angry at the state of stripped-down, repetitive, surface-level mass media that would rather profit from suffering than improve lives. If you could re-record it, Bastille, what would you do? 

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