Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rich Girl Not So Rich

I first heard Gwen Stefani's cover of If I were A Rich Man titled If I Were A Rich Girl while I was visiting my sister in Thailand last year while browsing in a music store. I didn't listen too much, but given that I'm somewhat of a fan of covers and parodies of songs, I was mildly interested.

It was a little while later that I found out who the artist was, and listened a bit more to the lyrics. When I did this, I realized just how much she and her collaborators had missed the point of the song.

In Fiddler on the Roof, the song starts out saying how if Tevye (one of the main characters from the musical) was rich, he wouldn't have to work, would have a big house, lots of animals, materialistic things. But then it turns to other things. Freeing his wife from the burden of having to do all the housework. Gaining respect from his neighbours, and them asking him for advice. And then finally he would be able to spend time to study the Torah, and spend more time praying. The song starts out materialistic, but comes round and shows that the main thing that Tevye would gain from it is being able to not worry about the mundane things like having food to eat and a roof to sleep under but concern himself with the more important (well, less materialistic, more spiritual) things in life.

In comparison, Gwen Stefani's version is about all the glittering things money can buy, and people wanting to know you just because you're rich. It does not look at other aspects of what having money can do for you. It's shallow, and misses the point of the original.

I could say that this is a symptom of the moral and cultural decline of modern society, but such claims have been made since the days of Socrates. And anyway, reality TV fills that role. I think my main point is that Gwen Stefani and co are shallow and missed the point of the song the were redoing. And the point of the original is a point worth making.

End Post
Writing time: 31 minutes
Time since last post: 2 days
Current media: Firefly

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