In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re picking our songs that highlight some of our favorite guitar riffs.
I have not verified this, but I’m pretty sure AC/DC’s “Back In Black” is at or near the top of every greatest-riffs list ever created, right up there with “Smoke On The Water,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The song—written as a tribute to the band’s former singer Bon Scott, who died in 1980—deserves that place, mostly because of those sharp, bold guitar lines, first the one that crunches, then the one that squeals, then the one that stutters. They’re more memorable and important to the composition than the vocals, the rhythm section, or the guitar parts that underline the chorus. They are rock ’n’ roll encapsulated. So what happens when a New Zealand woman with roots in Hong Kong and no musical training (or ear) decides to cover the song—and a lot more AC/DC songs, too—using only a cheap synthesizer and her own trebly voice? Here’s what happens: The riff lives. That’s part of the strange story of Wing, who has released more than 20 albums that mostly feature covers of songs that she loves. It was Wing Sings AC/DC that first got her lots of Internet attention, because it’s just so impossibly strange. It works, though, because she’s not winking: She covers “Back In Black” earnestly, programming those indelible guitar parts as rinky-dink keyboard sounds and draining the song of its dangerous energy, but capturing its spirit—somehow—just the same. Wing ended up an fleeting viral celebrity, even appearing on an episode of South Park, though that attention didn’t cause her career to blossom. But she’s still making albums, and for $10, she’ll even call you or a friend and sing a song, riffs and all, presumably.