Over the course of pop music's evolution over the past century or so, history continues to repeat itself. New stars are "the next (fill in the blank)," genres are hyphenated versions of established music styles, and unless you come up with song titles like "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" or "When 2 R in Love," there's probably another one by the same name floating around.
Sleigh Bells has just revealed a song called "Born to Lose" from its forthcoming Reign of Terror, due on Valentine's Day, 2012. Although Derek Miller's hardcore squall and ethereal vocals by Alexis Krauss are decidedly their own, that title has a 70-year history that traces through country music's humble beginnings, many a punk pasture, a '90s teen soap opera, and a Juelz Santana project that we might never hear. "Born to Lose" hasn't had a happy existence over the years, but a memorable one all the same.
Here's Sleigh Bells' take on the song, and seven-and-a-half others that came beforehand.
Ted Daffan and His Texans (1942)
Poor Ted Daffan. Obviously, this guy had a beautiful ache in his soul when he composed and recorded the now-standard "Born to Lose." His label had so little respect for him that they didn't even let him submit the song under his own name, so "Frankie Brown" was born to take the credit for a platter that reportedly sold seven million copies.
Ray Charles (1961)
Daffan's classic showed up on the b-side of Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You" single. In typical Genius fashion, Charles makes the song his home to hang up pictures of lost loves, stock the liquor cabinet, and smoke cigarettes out on the back porch. It was also revered by Johnny Cash and one of the least definitive versions ever was later recorded by Leann Rimes.
Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers (1977)
This comes from the garage punk pioneers the Heartbreakers' only studio album, L.A.M.F. (Like a Mother Fucker), and it's a furious update that rides the rancor the phrase would hold for to years to come.
The closing track off British rockers' seventh album. Kind of a sappy number until the 1:54 mark when ex-Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker lays into a bitchin' solo that encapsulates all of the pain and sorrow that a mere mortal's fingers can allow.
Social Distortion (1992)
Is the gritty-voiced Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness ever written a song in which he wasn't down on his luck? "By the time I was eight, I could tell it was too late," he sings in this straight-ahead rockabilly ballad. "I was already barking up the wrong tree."
James Van Der Beek and Meredith Monroe (1999)
Dawson's Creek picked up the meme and nearly left it for dead. Let's just say that our titular character makes Mike Ness sound Shakespearean with these miserable couplets: "My name is Dawson Leary, and I'm feeling kind of weary/ Today is my birthday, and you all look a little bleary." And to think you watched this show. At the 1:40 mark, Joshua Jackson shows GIF-worthy dissatisfaction.
Brooklyn lo-fi specialists Woods claim the theme for their impressive and unsurprisingly dark Songs of Shame. Although Jeremy Earl sounds like he's singing into a paper bag on this acoustic numer that's exactly what you'd be doing after the last bottle of Night Train is empty.
The Devil Wears Prada (2011)
Here's the most punishing "Born to Lose" to date. In the video, the Ohio metalcore outfit shifts deftly between lip-ring-jostling screams and a sweetened core of Linkin-Park-ish emotional singing as some innocent items from the produce aisle get brutalized. Would Ray Charles have enjoyed this? We suspect not.
Juelz Santana (201?)
Poor Juelz Santana. Much like Ted Daffan, he can't get the record label respect he deserves, and the Dipset rapper's project titled Born to Lose, Built to Win seems destined to remain in development limbo, where it has been for about the past five years. It's like calling your album Already Platinum or something. No song, but the sadness continues.
Sleigh Bells (2012)
Yum. This song pretty much incorporates bits of everything we've already covered. The Devil Wears Prada crew will like the blast beats in the background, Schenker can certainly appreciate Miller's non-stop riff manufacture, and we have the requisite crushed soul tunefulness dotted throughout. This is the soundtrack for the Occupy Heartbreak movement.
Diplo & Sleigh Bells. With Liturgy. Saturday, February 11, at
Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $23.
Tuesday, February 14 at Grand Central, 697 N.Miami Ave, Miami. Tickets cost $25.
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