Saturday Flashback: Alvin & the Chipmunks – Always On My Mind

“de-Chipmunked”

Tom: Are y…

Tim: YES I KNOW but let me speak. Squeakiness is a cheap easy gimmick – bit rubbish, but it seems it sells well enough for them to keep doing it. That’s why they’ve made over fifty albums (including many Greatest Hits albums, several Christmas albums, and indeed more than a couple of Greatest Christmas Hits albums). A typical reaction is to listen for twenty seconds, think “oh this is a bit fun”, skip to the next track and repeat until bored. One other reaction, had by SoundCloud user chipmunkson16speed, is to think “what would happen if I slowed this down?”

Tom: Huh. They covered the Pet Shop Boys version, not the original. That dates this record, certainly.

Tim: So, as it turns out, a de-Chipmunked Chipmunks cover is the version of Always On My Mind that you never realised could be so good.

Tom: Hold on, no. We’ve talked about this before. This is no Willie Nelson.

Tim: Oh, and I’m not remotely suggesting it is. My point is just that it’s just so unexpected – the slightly whiny backing vocal sounds a bit off, but otherwise I find this really enjoyable. It’s worth remembering that this was recorded back in the days before digital pitch shifting, so this is, roughly, what was originally recorded, and it does sound good. The most surprising thing is that even though the whole Chipmunk song idea is so cheap and cynical, the singer, whoever he is, is singing it with no small amount of emotion. No need to do it, there’ll never be any recognition, but he still went for it.

Tom: I’ll grant that, but I suspect a lot of that emotion is brought in by the graininess that comes from all the processing that’s been done. Although I’ll grant you the harmonies are pretty good.

Tim: A sad post script, though: according to the Alvin & The Chipmunks fan wiki (because of course there’s one), the Reception section for this one’s album consists of one single sentence: “This album did not chart.” Oh well.

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