TNB Night Owl – U900

U900 in Thriller, image by AlienMotives

There are many cover bands in the world. As most musicians learn their trade by practice, and they tend to practice songs by other musicians who have inspired them, it follows that many musicians both competent and great know a library of tunes they didn’t write. Combine that fact with an established audience wishing to see bands and artists perform who otherwise can’t see it (whether because the original groups are disbanded, key members have passed or retired, or the established band’s ticket prices are out of the price range of some fans) and the proliferation of cover bands only makes sense.

Not all cover tunes are the same, though. There are many which follow, step by step, the original composition. There are others, such as the Devo cover of Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, which are recognizable as the same basic tune but a wholly different interpretation of it.

And then there’s another step beyond that. That step is taken by bands like U900.

U900 is a Japanese duo who play cover tunes of famous songs on ukulele. One is dressed in a black rabbit outfit, the other in a teddy bear suit. Unlike other bands who have dressed in mascot outfits to play (a previous Night Owl comes to mind) U900 didn’t start out intending to perform that way.

Usagino U, the rabbit, and Kumano Kulele, the bear, were designed by their respective portrayers, Yosuke Kihara and Hiroyuki Nariai after a chance meeting in a park. The pair are both successful professional musicians who work on the production side of the business, and they had an idea for a series of humorous stop-motion animation covers that they could upload to Myspace. After a few of them, they found that the popularity had greatly outstripped anything they’d anticipated, and they were becoming celebrities throughout all of Asia and much of the world. The most notable exception was America, where they were effectively shunned. A few inquiries explained that it was the rabbit who was the problem; although both characters had been crocheted from the extra fabric Kihara had laying around, the black rabbit was interpreted in the U.S. as being a blackface effort, and was shunned… especially because some of their earliest efforts were of Michael Jackson covers and “Twist and Shout” which was originally popularized by the black Isley Brothers (although the setting is an obvious reference to the Beatles version).

So, here you go… the best puppet ukulele cover band you’re likely to see this year.


Twist and Shout…

And just for the sake of having yet another alternate beyond the Devo version, Satisfaction.

Question of the night: What’s your favorite cover song?

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.