Bad Cover Version
by Pulp

Album: We Love Life (2001)
Charted: 27


  • This song was the last single to be released by the band in their original phase before their hiatus in 2002 through to 2011, and the band's penultimate single released to date before "After You" in January 2013. It was released in April 2002 and charted in the UK at #27.
  • The lyrics are a lengthy attempt by the narrator to explain that his former partner's new/current relationship is a pale shadow of what they used to have in comparison. He uses a string of metaphors to compare how this relationship compares poorly to what they used to have, including how Tom and Jerry ended up talking in later series, the Rolling Stones' career post-1980s, and the TV adaptation of Planet of the Apes - the meaning being that all of the above mis-stepped badly and failed to recapture past glories, much like his ex-partner.
  • Humourously, one of the many metaphors used to talk down the narrator's ex-partner's new relationship includes a reference to Scott Walker's 1970 album 'Til The Band Comes In, which featured original compositions on the first side and cover songs on the second side - perhaps this is where the title "Bad Cover Version" partially came from. Either way, Jarvis Cocker wrote these lyrics in advance of the album recording, and later found out that Scott Walker himself would be producing the album and therefore this song.

    Cocker explains: "Doing [this song] was probably the most embarrassing moment on the record, for me, because the song had been written a long time before we knew we were gonna work with Scott Walker, and in the end section of the song there's a list of inferior things, but unfortunately in this litany I included Scott Walker's fifth solo LP, 'Til the Band Comes In. Because that record's always mystified me, because it starts off with original material, and it's pretty good, and then suddenly on the second side he just does six cover versions, and it's like he just kind of gets sick of the whole thing and just gives up halfway through the record. So I've always found it a very strange album for that. Then of course when we were working with him, this became a problem for me, because I felt that I had to mention it to him. I didn't want him to suddenly realize it himself, and then come and punch me or something. So I was thinking about it, and it was coming closer to the day when I was gonna have to do me vocal, and I was really trying to find the right moment to broach the subject, but it never seemed to come along. And then one morning, it was getting to be a bit of a problem for me actually, so I was traveling there on the train and thinking: 'Right, first thing, as soon as I get into the studio, I'm gonna have it out with him, I'm gonna tell him, I'm gonna tell it how it is.' So I was thinking to myself: 'Yeah, gotta do it, gotta do it, gotta do it.'

    Got off the train, walked into the studio... pinned him up against the mixing desk, and just kind of blurted it all out: "Er, Scott well, I've just got to apologize for something, because, like, okay, at the end of the song, like, I make a reference to 'Til the Band Comes In, right, in a list of crap things, and, what I was trying, y'know, obviously..." And just kind of said all this stuff. And he just kind of looked at me in a very mystified way, of like, 'What is this nutter ranting on about?,' and then it kind of clicked with him what I was on about, and he just laughed and said: 'Well, gee thanks guys, that's the way you repay me.' I think he doesn't actually own any of his old records so I think he'd kind of forgotten that he'd made that one. But for me, it was embarrassing."

    Ultimately it was fairly moot, as Walker has since admitted he shares the same view on 'Til The Band Comes In, considering it one of his weaker works - so Cocker was entirely justified to criticize it in the song.
  • The tune itself Cocker credits to Candida Doyle, the band's keyboard player. "The main tune came from Candida. I wrote the words at night, then I went to bed, woke up in the morning and thought, 'I bet they're really s--t, them words'. But then when I sang them they worked alright. When we recorded it with other people it never sounded right - it sounded like a pastiche of something. It's just a pop song but I find it quite emotional."
  • In a pastiche perhaps of the Scott Walker 'Til The Band Comes In debacle, the CD release of this song came in a 2-CD format, with the first CD comprising of the song and 2 B-sides, and the second CD comprising "bad cover versions" of Pulp songs - specifically a version of "Disco 2000" by Nick Cave (of the Bad Seeds) and a Roisin Murphy cover of "Sorted for E's and Whizz."
  • The music video becomes a hilarious send-up of charity singles, in particular "Do They Know It's Christmas?," with a huge litany of popular artists being impersonated and filmed singing their parts a la the original Band Aid single. Ironically, Jarvis Cocker is one of the many artists impersonated (along with Tom Jones, Craig David, Kyle Minogue, Kurt Cobain, Phil Collins and MANY more), yet Cocker himself appears in the video - impersonating Queen guitarist Brian May!


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