The Popstream: Bjork & PJ Harvey, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"


Sometime in 1965, Keith Richards woke up, taped two minutes of some riff he thought up in a vaguely lucid half-awake state, then fell asleep again, therefore assuring that an entire generation would have an anthem of disaffected, blue-balled teenage ennui to waterski through Vietnam to. And in subsequent years, it'd become a popular subject for cover songs -- wiry, heated soul via Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, neurotic and jostled proto-no-wave from Devo, glossy self-aware spectacle for Britney -- to the point where there's really not much to do with it anymore. Björk and PJ Harvey must've been pretty keenly aware of that back in 1994, when they collaborated on a cover of the Rolling Stones' most well-worn single for the BRIT Awards.

This clip exhibits a good number of things: that anyone who thinks Björk is only capable of weird tuneless freak-out wailing doesn't know her that well, that much of PJ Harvey's appeal comes from her capability to sound and appear aloof and bemused and threatening and aroused all that the same time, that draining all the energy and velocity and force out of a song doesn't make it low-powered (though getting the chance to build from a sparse eeriness to a huge crescendo is a pretty good bonus), and that no matter how often someone's tweaked a song already, there's always another angle.