Week 78: “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn (as covered by Erato)

If there was ever proof that less is more, this song is it.

A charming re-working of a decidedly mediocre song by pop star Robyn, this song, performed by Swedish vocal group Erato, does what all good cover songs do: it takes the original song, strips it down to its basic strengths, and fills the gaps with something completely new.

A clip of Erato (well, three of them anyway) singing the song became internet wildfire a couple weeks ago, and the simplicity of the video just adds to the song’s charm. Shot in black and white on a cheap camera in their cramped Swedish kitchen, it proves that beauty doesn’t need a big budget. (Robyn’s video, in case you were wondering, is an awkward combination of Flashdance and Napoleon Dynamite. You probably don’t need to see it, but if you’re curious and you enjoy feeling slightly uncomfortable, go for it.)

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The percussion. Erato trades in Robyn’s highly produced sound for used cottage cheese containers. No word yet on whether the success of the YouTube clip has boosted cottage cheese sales in Stockholm.

2. The three-part harmonies. Okay, this might contradict my “less is more” argument, but Erato’s vocal arrangement is gorgeous.

3. The lyrics. To be fair to Robyn, she gave Erato some good lyrics to work with. This is an interesting take on the break-up song; a plea for compassion from the “other woman”, making her case that honesty is the only approach to a complicated situation…that’s good stuff. Robyn’s come a long way since “Show Me Love”.

Recommended listening activity:

Building a castle out of Tupperware.