Although we lost Lesley Gore, a 1960s pop music staple, back in February of this year, two contemporary pop starlets are bringing her music back to the forefront. Eighteen-year-old Australian singer-songwriter GRACE and twenty-year-old American singer-songwriter Melanie Martinez have each put a unique spin on Gore’s classic tunes, “You Don’t Own Me” and “It’s My Party.” While there are surely going to be people who complain about how you shouldn’t mess with a good thing, personally, I’m always game for a little musical reinvention, and these are two of my favorites at the moment.
First up, GRACE, whose debut EP, MEMO dropped on May 26th via Regime Music Societe/RCA. Lead single, “You Don’t Own Me,” is a cover of Lesley Gore‘s 1963 anthem of the same name and features additional rap verses from fast rising hip-hop talent, G-Eazy. Giving the well known song her own twist, GRACE‘s brassy take serves up plenty of swagger and sass, even allowing for some riffs towards the end which showcase this young talent’s impressive vocal prowess. The song was produced by Parker Ighile and THE Quincy Jones, who served as producer on Gore’s original version. Hotly tipped to be one of 2015’s pop-soul breakout stars, GRACE wrote all five songs on her EP at the age of sixteen, recording them on her iPhone. She is influenced musically by a wide variety of artists both old (Smokey Robinson, Janis Joplin, Shirley Bassey) and new (Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson).
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Next we have singer-songwriter Melanie Martinez, who’s new single “Pity Party” cleverly interpolates or samples (anyone??) Lesley Gore‘s “It’s My Party,” also released in 1963. Known for her darker, slightly off-kilter lyrics and themes, Martinez goes off the deep end here—in the best way possible of course. Just check out a deliciously deranged Martinez in the video for “Pity Party” above (which she conceived and directed herself). With its trippy beats and cheerful yet slightly unhinged delivery—”Pity Party” is pure pop perfection with only a hint of doom.
Fans of NBC’s The Voice will likely remember Melanie Martinez, when she appeared on the show during its Fall 2012 season. Joining “Team Adam,” Martinez dazzled audiences with her quirky renditions of popular songs, including “Too Close” and “Seven Nation Army,” both of which landed her in the Top 5 on iTunes. Her interpretation of Britney’s “Toxic” became the talk of YouTube, quickly racking up over 6 million views. Martinez released her debut EP, Dollhouse in May of 2014, featuring production from Kinetics & One Love (Eminem, Pitbull, B.o.B.) and Robopop (Charli XCX, Marina & The Diamonds, Lana Del Rey). Her song “Carousel,” (included on the Dollhouse EP) was featured in the official trailer for FX’s hit horror anthology series American Horror Story: Freak Show, leading Martinez to release the song as a single and put out a video.
“Pity Party” (iTunes) is the first single taken from Melanie Martinez‘ forthcoming debut album, Cry Baby, due August 14th (Atlantic Records).