Which cover of MGMT’s ‘Kids’ is the best?
This weekend the Flaming Lips entered the canon of contemporary artists covering “Kids.” Since MGMT broke through with the single three years ago, it has become a modern classic. Veteran bands like Weezer and Jack’s Mannequin adopted the song into their live set, and it even crossed over to acts that you wouldn’t ordinarily think would like the psychedelic pop offering like B.o.B. (whose version I think might be the best) and Chiddy Bang, who sliced up the riff when he sampled it in last year’s “The Opposite of Adults.”
Here for your approval are the “Kids” covers that are available online.
This Flaming Lips version is the one we were talking about. They get extra points because they rearranged the song to almost sound like a folk standard, and then they invited MGMT founders Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser to join them on stage for a verse. Sorry for the small size of these first two. Sometimes we have advertisers who put ads on this portion of the story, and if I do not post it like this, it looks even weirder. Trust me!
What’s great about Weezer’s medley of “Kids” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” is that it points out how these two songs might be cousins. However, they don’t do enough with either song to make it their own. Try to ignore that the video is a little out of sync with the audio on this one.
B.o.B. did this cover at the same gig that Weezer did. You can watch this version below, or check out the superior studio version below that.
Here’s the audio version…
Ben Lee oversings his version a little bit, but he makes up for it when he kneels down to greet the little dog who wanders up to him at 1:29.
Matt Hires actually nails it. His whistle is an obvious choice, but one that must not have occurred to any of the other coverers, and his voice is perfect for the melody and his jumpy strum is a welcome variation.
Here is a studio version by Cage the Elephant. It’s cool how they switch up the rhythm in the beginning, but they don’t really seem to do enough different things with the song to merit spending time on it in the studio recording it. It sounds more like something to bust out at shows.
The Kooks don’t really do much with their version.
Jack’s Mannequin overplays on the piano a little. This version is neck-and-neck for the blandest award with the Kooks one.
VIC. don’t do that much different except turn it into more of a bar rock song. But if I were 22 and full of beer, I’d probably be pumping my fist too.
Lady Danville win points for experimenting with a slightly different arrangement, but their harmonies on the chorus are a little grating. Sorry, guys. You’re down on the bottom of the list.
Wait, who are you guys? How did you get in here?
Mac Miller’s “K.I.D.S. (Live it Up)” is like high school version of Asher Roth or Sam Adams, and with his “My parents out of town, so we gonna put it down” suburban party ethic seems like the exact type of people the members of MGMT were when they were, er, um, kids.
Chiddy Bang at least has the ambition to cut up the original version a little bit, but what’s tough about that is the notes of the original riff were so perfect that hearing it stunted and stuttering simply make the listener want to hear the original. That said. Chiddy Bang’s rhymes are great and are the exact opposite of Mac Miller’s. He even raps at one point, “Somebody tell Roth that I don’t love college
Cuz the real world’s kinda like ‘Real World.’”
Oh, and you should also listen to the original again, if you have gotten this far. Here you go…