Paola Iezzi is one half of the famous Italian sister duo Paola & Chiara, who are easily my all-time favorite duo, and who I would place in my top 5 if I made a list of my favorite artists. Suffice to say I’m entirely biased here. But I’m the publisher of this site, so I get to praise my favorite artists if and when I want to. Besides, I’ve been told that people like the fact that our reviews tend to be positive. My idea has always been to simply say to hell with releases we don’t like and just not cover them rather than writing a bunch of totally negative reviews. So, sometimes I’ll write a mixed review, but usually I just cover things I feel positively about. Besides, all critics are biased. Everyone has their favorite artists. You’d better believe the senior writers at Rolling Stone get to cover the releases of their favorite artists and that they do so with bias. I mean, when Springsteen or U2 drop a new album, it’s going to be a fan who gets to cover those. The magazine might not admit it, but I believe it to be true. As for websites, well, I’m sure reviews get assigned by many of them, which explains why there are so many negative reviews out there, because people aren’t covering the artists they like. And maybe that’s how you think it should be, that nobody should get to review an artist they’re already a fan of. You’re entitled to your preference and I’m entitled to mine, so I am going to review Paola Iezzi’s new EP and be biased about it and you can read it or not; it’s up to you.
First of all, this is an EP of covers. Three covers, in fact. Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Ah-ha’s “The Sun Always Shines on TV” and Madonna’s “Live To Tell.” But none of these covers are paint by numbers. They’ve all undergone major surgery in Paola’s hands here, so if you don’t like covers where they make major changes then don’t read any further.
The EP opens with the “Cat Paradox Radio Edit” of “Get Lucky.” Don’t ask me why she opened the EP with what would seem to be a remix instead of her original version of “Get Lucky.” And don’t ask me why there is no original version of “Get Lucky” anywhere on the eight track EP. In any case, this Cat Paradox radio edit of her “Get Lucky” cover sounds like a normal version of a song, not a remix, so maybe that is the original; perhaps it was produced by Cat Paradox and that’s why it’s called that. Who knows. In any case, Paola has transformed Daft Punk’s song into more of an electro-pop tune with punchy beats and humming synth, among other sounds, like some sultry bass guitar. It actually sounds like what I’d expect a Moby remix of “Get Lucky” to sound like. It has that spacey, slightly trippy vibe. To that end, this is probably what the original version of the song would have sounded like if Daft Punk had made the song with electronic programs and gadgets — the way they used to make music — instead of going the organic route and recording it with live instruments. So, if you’ve ever wondered what “Get Lucky” would have sounded like if they’d recorded it like old Daft Punk material, check this out and you’ll get a pretty good idea. In any case, I like what Paola has done to it. It retains the funk of the original, but it’s punchier and more sexual, Paola letting out little moans here and there throughout the song. Plus, it’s just plain interesting to hear the song from a female point of view instead of a male point of view. (Sorry, Pharrell.) If Daft Punk heard this, I think they would like it. They might even be impressed.
Next up is the “radio edit” of Paola’s cover of Madonna’s “Live To Tell,” which she begins with all sorts of ambient sounds — kind of like James Blake — before acoustic guitar enters the picture, soon to be followed by little bursts of electric guitar. It’s only after she sings the chorus the first time that a danceable beat kicks in. That said, the beat doesn’t dominate the mix, Paola’s voice in the forefront with the guitars just behind her. Now, do I like it? To be perfectly honest, I’m on the fence about this one. I mean, I do like it, yes, but it lacks some of the passion that Madonna sang it with. There was a desperation in Madonna’s voice on this classic. But Paola sings it like a pretty straightforward pop song. Why she didn’t sing it with more longing in her voice, I don’t know. It baffles me because she sang “Get Lucky” with that sort of desire in her voice. Not that “Live To Tell” quite needs that sort of desire, but it does need a touch of fear. Keeping this secret isn’t easy, But Paola sings it like it’s no big deal. At least that’s how it sounds to me. I give her props for daring to cover a Madonna song though. Madonna is like a goddess and covering her songs you’re always going to fall short of the original. At least Paola’s version is different and doesn’t come across like a cheap imitation.
“The Sun Always Shines On TV,” an Ah-ha cover, follows, also in “radio edit” size. To be honest, I barely remember the original version of this track, so I can’t exactly compare them, but I do think Paola delivers a great song here. Production-wise, it reminds me of Festival, Paola & Chiara’s second best album (in my opinion; Television is their best). It has layers of sounds with different string instruments and all sorts of percussion — its’ a very interesting listen. And when Paola sings “touch me” and “hold me” you’ll want to reach out and grab her because she sounds like she needs a hug here, which is great because the lyrics call for some serious longing and a touch of desperation. So, she delivers the sort of vocal that she should have done “Live To Tell” with.
The remainder of the EP consists of remixes. I haven’t reviewed many remixes and don’t read reviews of remixes, generally speaking, so I don’t even know the terminology for covering these things. But I’ll write a few thoughts about them anyway. By now you’ve probably already decided that I’m an idiot so my commentary here really can’t make you think any less of me. I hope.
The first remix is “Get Lucky (Tamashi Vs. Doriani Rmx),” which kicks up the tempo of the “Cat Paradox Radio Edit” a few notches. Unfortunately, the Cat Paradox version’s warm and bubbly beats are gone, replaced by harder beats and some weird percussion. I mean, there’s an instrument that sounds like someone is just tapping on a metal can with a pen or something. And there’s a beat that sounds like someone using an empty laundry detergent bucket as a drum — like you see people doing in major cities all the time. To that end, I ultimately found this remix to be slightly annoying. So, perhaps I may be biased but by now you should have figured out that I can still say so when something doesn’t please me.
“Live To Tell (Nico Romano Extended Rmx)” follows and kicks off with some throbbing beats but the beats soon go away and you just hear Paola singing the song along to the guitars for a moment or two then the beats come back. You also get a healthy dose of synth. For the most part, I quite like this remix. The only complaint I’d have is that there are portions of its seven minutes and nine seconds where there’s no Paola, just beats going on and on. That’s fine for a while, but I felt like the vocal-less parts should have been shorter. That said, I do understand that this is a club remix and that’s how club remixes usually are. So, I’m sure people who review remixes would give this one an A but I’d say it’s a B-. Not a bad grade though.
“Live To Tell (Nico Romano Edit Rmx)” is up next. I quite like this one because the beats I found excessive are gone. This is basically a dance radio style remix and it’s a nice one at that. The beats infect you like a virus while Paola’s voice distracts you. By the time the song is over, you’re hooked on it and can’t get it out of your system. But you don’t even want to. And, speaking of Paola’s voice, the way it’s accompanied by the heavy beats here makes things sound more, shall we say, serious. So, the lack of desperation in her voice isn’t so noticeable. I like this version more than the normal radio edit of the song accordingly.
“The Sun Always Shines On Tv (The Rejected Far From The Spotlight Rmx)” begins with Paola singing the chorus along to tender piano with an echo on her voice. Then some subtle beats drop and are soon followed by some much larger beats that are probably heavy enough to qualify this remix as a banger. When I listened to the “radio edit” of this track, in the back of my mind I was wondering what the remixes might sound like and this one is pretty close to what I imagined. So, I have to give it props for that. Seriously though, it’s a very, very good remix.
Finally, we have “The Sun Always Shines On Tv (The Lumberjack Rmx),” which is under three minutes long. This one has deep dubstep style humming but it never gives you the wub wub sound that makes dubstep so ridiculously catchy. Aside from the dubstep element, there are lots of other sounds in this remix, some of which I couldn’t even begin to describe. You know why the person who did this remix is called The Lumberjack by the time you’re done listening to this because it’s like he assaulted the song as though he was chopping down a tree. Ultimately, this is not a pleasant listen at all. It could have been if some of the weirdness was absent, but, sadly, it’s there and the song is beaten up and wrecked.
The bottom line: Paola delivers two fantastic covers here and a third that’s not so bad; it’s just shy of greatness. Considering that she’s selling this 8 track EP for $3.99 on iTunes, I’d say it’s well worth your money even if you might not like all of the remixes. So, go grab it already. And if you like it, check out Paola & Chiara, Television and Festival especially, and you should be able to find those on Spotify.