If you watched True Blood on Sunday night, you probably heard the Nick Cave/Neko Case version of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” that played over the end credits. We were pretty excited to hear about this collaboration, but unfortunately it proved somewhat less than the sum of its parts – Case’s vocals were decidedly lackluster while Cave, as our own Judy Berman put it, sounded “like the deep-voiced guy on every early-’90s house track.” Ouch. There have been plenty of heinous duets over the years (like this one, which is like the musical equivalent of pairing Beelzebub with Elizabeth Báthory) — but no one expects anything good to come of such things. Somehow it’s more disappointing when it’s two artists you genuinely like and respect who combine to create something that proves a whole less exciting than it sounded on paper. Like this lot, for instance.
Björk and Antony — “The Dull Flame of Desire”
Recording a song with the word “dull” in the title is a risky move, particularly if said song is seven-and-a-half minutes long and based on a Russian poem. Most of Björk’s bold artistic moves over the years have paid off in spades, and we’re big fans of Antony and the Johnsons, but for whatever reason, this song just doesn’t work. Or, in fact, the reason is pretty clear — it drags on and on and on, as Björk and Antony try to out-emote one another with ever more histrionic vocals, and the brass section grows ever more raucous, and we get a headache.