Music Nerd Shadow Box: “Valentine’s Month” Edition

MNSB is my monthly series where I combine my childhood obsession with shadow boxes with my adult fascination with musical minutia. Because I’ve been too busy, I’ve thrown together a “Valentine’s Month” (which is now a thing, apparently) edition.

Our journey, aptly enough, begins with the documentary Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (1). My mom made me watch this when I was home for Christmas because it featured 80s music and Filipino men – both of which I’ve been known to have an affinity for. I could have analyzed the film’s complicated messages about global economic inequalities and Asian masculinities. But no, instead I had to obsess on how much Arnel Pineda (doing an eerily perfect Steve Perry) sounded like Sam Cooke. I had never made the connection, but a quick Wikipedia search revealed that the Perry was heavily influenced by Cooke.

To hear the similarities, compare Journey’s “Who’s Crying Now” (2) to Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” (3). This brings us to “Cupid” – aka the Mitochondrial Eve of modern popular music.

Besides the Journey influence, there are tons of covers. First, there’s Otis Redding’s (4), which seems fitting being as I have the embarrassing habit of sometimes mistaking Cooke for Redding, or vice versa.

Another cover that I’ve been hearing more recently is Amy Winehouse’s (5). The faux-Reggae thing is a bit much, but you can clearly hear Cooke’s influence on her.

We can’t talk about “Cupid” without talking about “Cupid Shuffle” (6). The singer/rapper Cupid earned his moniker for singing Cooke’s song and winning some award that I’m too lazy to look up right now. Again, you can hear Cooke’s influence, interspersed with the rap sections.

In keeping with the Valentine’s Day/Month theme, I want to close with Outkast’s “Happy Valentine’s Day” (7). This is amazingly crafted song that had the misfortune of sharing album space with “Hey Ya” and “Roses” – which both boasted superior ear-worm power. On The Love Below, Andre 3000 gives an archetypal embodiment of The Lover that should be in every textbook on Jungian psychology. If Cupid were an elected official, I think the majority of this country would vote 3000. (As a reminder, I am obsessed with this man enough to render his likeness in cross-stitch…)

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist, Instructor, Writer

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