Thursday, 1 April 2010

2003 Gareth Gates featuring The Kumars: Spirit In The Sky

Fourth number one for Gates and with a single making its third appearance; since it's 1970 debut, Norman Greenbaum's song has proved remarkably resilient. In fact, every cover version that's ever charted in the UK has reached number one, which is a record of it's own I guess. If you're not familiar, then you can get the gist of what it's all about from the original Greenbaum and 1986 cover by Dr & The Medics entries. What you won't get from them though is what that 'featuring The Kumars is all about'. For those not in the know, The Kumars at No. 42 was a BBC comedy show about a fictional British Indian family who ran a fake television studio. Which I guess now gives enough of a clue to work out that this is 2003's 'offical' 'Comic Relief' single. They come round quickly don't they?

Both previous versions were based around a folk rock singalong, but Gates delivers a pure pop version that all but obliterates Greenbaum's signature guitar riff under a rolling cartoon bounce that, along with Gate's own performance, regards the song as a source of comedy gold when it's clearly anything but. And to help offset a message steeped in religion and faith, The Kumars supply their own brand of humour, but this only amounts to the occasional reaction/interjection from Hindu's to the "got to have a friend in Jesus" line which, as this is Comic Relief, is mild to the point of comedy with a small 'c' in 4 point font white text on a white background. And being so incidental, it begs the question as to why it's even there at all - Boyzone and Westlife didn't need a sitcom troupe to bolster their Comic Relief efforts did they? Yes it's for charity, but like organising a sponsored seal club on behalf of Save The Children, it leaves me with a strong feeling of distaste at its misjudged disrespectfulnes; sometimes the means can never justify the ends.


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