Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

God bless this man transforming classic songs into bizarre paeans to life in COVID-era America

Illustration for article titled God bless this man transforming classic songs into bizarre paeans to life in COVID-era America
Screenshot: Allan Herrod

We thought we were done with COVID parody songs. Over the past year, the genre willed itself into existence and became totally saturated almost simultaneously. By the end of last April, the COVID parody had become not just unfunny but downright grating—a gnat buzzing in the ear of everyone who didn’t want to hear anything that wasn’t absolutely essentially about the pandemic. But now we’ve seen the work of Allan Herrod, a man whose portfolio of parody songs forces us to reconsider our stance on the genre thanks to a singular, profoundly strange artistic vision.

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Here, for your consideration, is a prime example of his work: A COVID-themed cover of “House Of The Rising Sun.”

The essential elements of Herrod’s best work are all included here, from the off-tempo lyrics and surreal CGI backgrounds to the use of a face-mapping effect that turns famous figures into singing, blinking, busy-eyed Terry Gilliam nightmares. There are so, so many of these videos to enjoy. The channel includes COVID parodies ranging from the Elvis Presley cover “COVID Hotel” and Elton John’s “Goodbye COVID-19" to Frankie Valli singing “I’ll Keep My Distance From You.”

For about a year now, Herrod has been uploading videos about the pandemic and American politics. The latter category of material is similarly captivating—check out a George Harrison cut-out singing “Not Guilty” over a bed of MIDI horns or the exceptional Jimi Hendrix cover, “Orange Stain”—but it’s the COVID tracks that really capture the spirit of a time when lots of people are sitting at home, developing new and unexpected hobbies.

Viewers interested in following Herrod’s progression as an artist should check out a few of his older videos, too. In the Creedence-based “Have You Heard Of COVID 1-9?” Herrod’s early, pre-CGI approach is demonstrated, and in his version of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” we see an early version of the face-mapping technique that would become part of his signature style being explored.

In his channel description, Herrod says that he “frequently [thinks] of new lyrics that match my current situation” when he hears songs, which helps explain the focus of his work to date. We don’t know what kind of direction his music will take once the pandemic ends, but we sincerely hope he finds a new muse that keeps him just as inspired as he seems to be right now.

[via Boing Boing]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.