L Is for...

... Links — about The Late Late Show and Lily Allen.

As soon as The Late Show wraps up each night, Craig Ferguson pops in with a cold open of The Late Late Show. He might ramble a bit, address the “People… of… Earth!” via hand puppet, bring on a special non sequitur guest, or launch into a lip-synched musical number. It’s fun largely because of the shoestring budget, going to the heart of the host’s sense of “I have a TV show! Yeah, it’s on CBS at 12:30 a.m., but still!” glee, enticing viewers to stick around.

Well, Monday night had a little of almost all of that. Ferguson, a couple of costumed dancers, and a chorus of puppets performed Britney Spears’ “Oops… I Did It Again” [bad link].

The skit reminded me that if you find Spears’ “Womanizer” hella catchy yet kind-of annoyingly overproduced there’s a virtual cottage industry of cover versions to sample. Franz Ferdinand’s [bad link] has strangely off-key vocals but proves that the song can work unironically as rock. The All-American Rejects [bad link] slowed it down and set it to acoustic guitar, beer-bottle percussion, and concertina, yet despite some winkingly substituted lyrics and a smart segue into the Turtles’ “Happy Together” it doesn’t quite transcend the sum of its parts for me.

My favorite take on “Womanizer” is Lily Allen’s. Although her studio output is heavily electronic, here she’s backed mostly by piano, acoustic guitar, and timpani evocative of Brian Wilson or Phil Spector. Even if it’s not as boldly different as the renditions linked above, it changes things up and stands on its own, which is what I look for in a cover.

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