Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GWAR, "School's Out"

Alice Cooper's "School's Out" is the unchallenged, definitive end of the school year anthem. Each June, every classic rock station in America puts it in heavy rotation. It's soundtracked enough films, TV shows, commercials and montages to make it possibly the most internationally-heard hard rock song of all-time, up there with "Iron Man" and "Back in Black." It's been on The Muppets Show and two different episodes of The Simpsons. It's also been performed by the casts of Glee, American Idol and even Alvin and the Chipmunks, although the latter diffused the "School's been blown to pieces" lyric with "School's ancient history."

But for the sake of contrarianism, let's celebrate the end of school this month with GWAR's version. 

Even GWAR's biggest fans, like yours truly, will tell you that they're not great songwriters. If KISS put the show first in their career, GWAR made it the only thing that matters in theirs, releasing albums for the fun of it between tours and video collections. Yet it's a blast to hear them romp through "School's Out," by far the catchiest and most reverent thing they've ever recorded. Said reverence doesn't stop them for amending the lyrics to be even more offensive ("We've got no metal detectors!") but like the best covers, they manage to be faithful while putting their own filthy stamp on the original. The music video is also a gem, featuring a suspiciously adult-looking class and a quick tribute to class Eddie Van Halen in the "Hot for Teacher" video. Class dismissed.

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