We’ve all grabbed our hairbrush or imaginary microphone and sang into the mirror to our favorite song. It’s just that most of us aren’t quite good enough to gather together our talented friends to reinterpret and record a neo-soul cover of this tune.
Normally full of jazzy R&B vibes, Portland’s Michalangela is also a lifelong Foo Fighters fan. And when she was in her 20s, “I learned that Dave Grohl’s birthday was the same as mine,” she tells—which is today: January 14! “I feel honored to share in this day with him, and I thought it was only right to release the cover [of ‘The Pretender’] on our shared birthday.”
"The Pretender" was the first single from the Foos' 2007 album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, and it’s actually been a part of Michalangela’s live set for a bit.
“A couple years ago, in a planning session with Alex Milsted, we decided that we wanted to take some of our favorite alternative rock music and morph it into our sound, somehow,” she says. “Listing out bands, we both landed on the Foo Fighters as a favorite. I've been a fan of theirs since junior high. My password was even ‘foofighters’ (not anymore, hackers). We had a great time arranging this song to be more in the neo-soul vibe, yet still rocking, and people loved it at our shows.”
Michalangela's latest record, As I See It, came out in May of last year, and during the recording sessions, the band—featuring Milsted (Saeeda Wright, Portland Cello Project, Haley Johnsen) on keyboards, Trent Baarspul (Jarrod Lawson, Reed Grimm, New Sound Underground) on guitar, JP Downer (Portland Cello Project, Farnell Newton, Elke Robitaille) on bass, and Tyrone Hendrix (Portland Cello Project, Liv Warfield, Mike Phillips, Tony Furtado) on drums—started laying down the tracks for this cover. “Gus Berry creatively mixed this one, and we had Kevin Nettleingham of Nettleingham Audio do the mastering,” she adds.
Even the track’s video is an ode to the original, “filmed in the ‘sweded’ style” of Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind and featuring “terrible props and special effects to aid in the process”—all directed by her brother Graeme Wilson.
While most of us keep these imaginary ambitions inside our bedroom walls, we’re delighted that Michalangela's goal “is that it somehow arrives in front of Dave on our birthday, and I am praying to the gods of social media, and all my fans, that we can make that happen. I don’t even care if he likes my version of it—in fact, I'd be honored even if he hates it; it just means that he acknowledged my existence.”