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Weekend Earworms: The Moog Cookbook

Weekend Earworms: The Moog Cookbook

An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times that we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things ever.

We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs, if only for the weekend. We’ll be scouring the internet for the best earworms we can shove into your grey matter!

Man, I was doing so much better recently by bringing new or at least somewhat relevant music that has something to do with the pop culture landscape these past few weeks, and today I mucked it all up with music from 20 years ago. I suppose that’s OK because this column is first and foremost about a song’s ability to get embedded deep in one’s mind, and in that regard, today’s songs are pretty damn powerful.

I cannot remember how songs by The Moog Cookbook showed up in my collection and can only assume they seeped through the musical ether into my iTunes library where they knew they’d have a comfortable home for many years. The duo of Brian Kehew and Roger Joseph Manning Jr. have put out a few albums of very interesting cover songs created entirely on analog synthesizers. Moogs especially. I dare not go into “old fart” mode when I’m already sharing decades-old music but analog synthesizers are really special things that are just a bit better than anything digital. It’s basically the same argument used by people who give vinyl endless nostalgic praise. There’s just something about it.

“Buddy Holly”

There might not be a more epic version of Weezer’s “Buddy Holly”. Almost everything The Moog Cookbook did sounded like a combination of what someone from the ’50s would classify as “futuristic” and music recreated by extraterrestrials if they had no knowledge of conventional musical instruments. Taking a song that is already an earworm to begin with and converting the lyrics to repetitive tones and bells makes sure this won’t leave your head for days. The only time I’ve ever disliked this version is when it occasionally sneaks its way in as the soundtrack to a nightmare, but even then I can’t be too mad because it’s so fitting.

“Buddy Holly” too upbeat for you? Well, even with somewhat “downer” (wrong word for the thing I mean) songs, they can’t help but be strangely upbeat.

“Black Hole Sun”

This is another track off their 1996 self-titled album and sure, I could have shared ones off other albums like their versions of Foo Fighters’ “Big Me” or David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” (I guess I just did), but the ones embedded take on a life of their own somehow. While “Buddy Holly” sounds like a nightmare circus, their cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” takes an otherwise morose song and transforms it into lounge music fit for a ’60s era sci-fi movie.

There’s just something about the way a The Moog Cookbook sounds that keeps these songs in rotation. If they were made today in any number of synth apps I don’t know if they’d have the same effect. It might have something to do with the fact the duo played each of their songs as opposed to preparing programmed loops so not every note is perfect. Just like conventional instruments, hearing the small imperfections give it a more realistic feel.

Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic about weird cover songs I havent been able to escape for more than a decade. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)

Image: Synthtopia

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