Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Charli Adams covers The 1975’s ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’

“Would you please listen…”  

Rising Indie newcomer, Charli Adams poignantly covers The 1975’s apocalyptic track ‘I Like America & America Likes Me’. In the week leading up to one of the most powerful American Presidential Elections in modern history, her cover flags the current unrest, protest and political mood over the past four-years in the US, under Trump’s term. By posting this cover now, especially with the lyrical video, Adams joins many artists – from Lady Gaga to Stevie Nicks - in a collective call for Americans to vote. 


The original track is from The 1975’s third studio album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. Matty Healy, the band’s frontman, described the song as “a homage to the now now now, right now, musically” (Interview with Radio X). The song was released in 2018, and remains relevant right now in 2020: a time of real confusion, desperation, tension, generational gaps and political differences.  


Stripping it back to raw acoustic sounds, the Nashville-based singer’s cover reflects the current zeitgeist of young liberals in America – her ethereal tones and timbre mirror a deep feeling of disenchantment and despondency towards the political directions of America: “I wanted to cover [the song] in a way that matches the emotions I felt when I heard it for the first time” (Charli Adams, in conversion with Earmilk.) Adams’ cover amplifies the fragility and entrancing nature of The 1975 version, adding perhaps even more pathos and anguish from a young American’s perspective.  


The original track has clear associations with trap music – and when Matty talks about this, he goes further and identifies trap as “this generations’ punk”. Punk being the ultimate political voice in music and anti-establishment genre. Adam’s maintains this feeling through her hypotonic vibe and melancholy tones; she “cried to the trap beat of the original version because the lyrics are so devastating”.   


Adams version gives a new breath of life to the lyrics. Her cover shares the original cultural references, but, in 2020, it also adopts new meaning of its very own… 


I’m scared of dying / is that on fire? 

This reference to thanatophobia (death anxiety) takes a whole new meaning with the dawning of Black Lives Matter, while the Wildfires in America made global news as they devastated California, Oregon and western states – clear evidence to all of the raging climate crisis.  


Kids don’t want rifles / they want supreme 

Mass shootings and gun violence problems dominate American life. This distressing lyric plays on the effortlessness ability to purchase a gun in America – easier than buying designer clothes. But also, Adams cover highlights the voice of America’s liberal youth, who don’t want these problems dominating their future.  


Adam also adopts The 1975’s referential style in her cover’s video - visually echoing another 1975 track Love It If We Made It, while capturing the millennial voice. Her performance is recorded via webcam, showing her performing the safety of her bedroom, and juxtaposed with a montage of device-filmed footage, depicting civil unrest, protests and anxieties, plays in the background. This could be read as a signpost for global lockdown or isolation, while in parallel, it also visually demonstrates the ongoing and continuous stream of chaos that carries on the world around us; showing that even if something doesn’t directly affect us, it still exists.  


Through performance and visuals of the video, Adams emphasises the lyrics, particularly the refrain “would you please listen”.  Young people feel like their voices of progressive change are being drowned out by regressive ideals. Healy said this track demonstrates the “feeling of being drowned out, being misrepresented, being so powerful as a unit but not knowing how to utilize it” – a feeling many young people can relate to right now, especially in America.  


And Adams offers is a solution by sharing this cover. Her generation are finding their political voice, and, especially in these current times we find ourselves in, it’s truly inspiring to see music and art being used as a powerful mediator for social change.  


With the Presidential countdown concluding by the end of this week, artists make their final attempts to call on liberal Americans to vote out Donald Trump – a President that worsens both national divides and international tensions, doesn’t recognise the 21st century problems and, ultimately, is a liar.

- Amber Marie Howard

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