In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: In honor of Leap Day, we pick our favorite songs about time.
Fans of the Los Angeles-based noise pop outfit Medicine who discovered the band through its appearance in the 1994 cult film The Crow were hit with a bait and switch. The band performs as itself in The Crow during a club sequence, performing “Time Baby II” from the band’s 1993 EP 5ive. But the original soundtrack features Medicine’s “Time Baby III,” a remixed version of the same gorgeous love song. (There’s also the original “Time Baby,” a rough early demo recorded before lead singer Beth Thompson joined the band, around two minutes longer than “II” and “III” and oddly structured, unlike the polished final product.)
Whether the switch comes across as an upshift or a downshift depends on how much actual noise you want in your noise pop. “Time Baby II” is harsh and unvarnished, making it a better fit for the moody, gothic film. “Time Baby III” sounds like the same song as performed by The Cocteau Twins, which makes sense as it was remixed by the Cocteaus’ Robin Guthrie, with additional vocals from the band’s lead singer, Elizabeth Fraser. The latter version is dreamier and more alluring, and for some Medicine fans, it was the first version of the track that they knew. “Time Baby III” was featured in the video for the song, used to promote the soundtrack for the film that contains a significantly different recording of it. To hear “Time Baby III” first is to hear “Time Baby II” and think it sounds like a less-than-successful soundcheck.
But every iteration of the song features the same beautiful melody and lyric (“No they don’t have to take you away”) that transform into the song’s resonant hook. “Time Baby II” and “Time Baby III” are both terrific love songs, but one is a tumultuous affair, and the other is a chaste fairytale.