Last week, Nick Rynerson brought to our attention a Christianized version of Leonard Cohen’s classic, “Hallelujah,” calling Marvin Olasky’s rewrite “a total buzzkill,” “worrisome,” and “completely untrue to the human condition.” Not to be undone, Major Scaled TV has taken REM’s song of lost love and obsession, “Losing My Religion,” and turned it on its head. Familiar, yet foreign and unsettling, this major key version of the REM classic loses any sense of grief and suffering. The change in tonality whitewashes the sorrowful song and brings in the pollyannaism of REM’s much derided “Shiny Happy People.”
This rescaled version is so wrong; it ruins one of REM’s best songs and completely missing the point. Michael Stipe’s shaking vibrato now comes across as giddiness, and the once sad mandolin melody is more akin to the uninhibited joy of Arthur Smith’s “Dueling Banjos.” Unfortunately, Major Scaled TV has created major scale versions of other downer classics: Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” The Doors’ “Rider’s on the Storm,” and Django Renhart’s “Minor Swing,”—with plans for more. Each one of these is horribly destroyed with the glistening “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” sparkle of the major scale.
As science recently discovered, high positivity actually leads to a loss of control and aggression. So let us keep our songs of sorrow in the mired mess of depression known as the minor scale that they were created in. Always having an attitude of “things are looking up” to cover our sadness sanitizes and removes us from the struggles of the human condition. So why do we want to attach that attitude to our music?