TNB Night Owl – Bardcore

The Penwith Radio studios. Photo by M4th5.

In the Owl, we’ve occasionally delved into the fringes of music. We’ve covered vocaloids, filk, nerdcore, and even heavy metal knitting. Tonight, it’s bardcore’s turn.

Bardcore is, like most fringe music, a small community with a distinctive style. Whether it has been inspired by the sudden popularity of banjo and mandolin in rock songs in the wake of Mumford & Sons’ hits or simply because Renaissance festival workers are stuck at home like everyone else, it has developed a following through shared videos on Youtube and has recently been integrated with course materials in a medieval music course at the University of Hawaii.

Bardcore is easily explained. Take popular songs and reconstruct them using instruments which were commonly played centuries ago and lyrics (when included) translated into era-appropriate(ish) language.

That’s the explanation; hearing it is something else entirely. I expect many will hate it, some will love it, and it will just leave a lot of people flat… much as with any style of music. But it would be Owlish malpractice if I didn’t leave you with a few examples… so here are some of the most popular producers of Bardcore today, along with the original inspiration for one of their songs.

Dolly Parton’s Jolene… by Hildegard von Blingin’:

Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks… and Cornelius Link’s version:

Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean… matched with Mystic Zaru’s version.

Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie… and a jaunty medieval-style interpretation by Stantough.

System of a Down’s Aerials… and Algal the Bard playing it.

Question of the night: What is a song you enjoy that features an uncommon instrument for the style?

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About AlienMotives 1992 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.