Emilie Autumn’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun & Bohemian Rhapsody EP”

Still riding on her success of Opheliac and its style, Emilie Autumn has now released an EP with two covers of the most distinctive songs ever recorded: Cyndi Lauper‘s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and Queen‘s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Two very difficult songs to make your own and two very difficult songs to sell different versions of as the originals are so culturally and historically well-known. Autumn’s attempt does not work with both songs.

This EP contains nine tracks. There are five versions of ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’, one of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, two live tracks from her recent tour and an extra exclusive recording. Veteran Autumn fans will recognise the format easily enough, but for new fans this EP may be a bit baffling.

Her rendition of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ stems from her impulse decision to perform it live on her tour, and it turned out to be so popular that it was in high demand for Autumn to record it. This is for good reason. Autumn’s version of the classic is a triumph. It fits perfectly with her stage persona and attitude, and she has adapted it to her own unique style, which of course includes her second favourite instrument – the harpsichord. Unlike the original the electronics are at a minimum (just a drum machine for the beat) and some violin is thrown in for good measure. Her vocal delivery is as sarcastic and fun as ever. Probably one of her best recordings.

On the other end of the scale ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is not so immediately convincing. The arrangement is the same as her other recordings, with her strings and her drum machine (and a welcome electric violin that replaces the guitar) but it remains difficult to accept the changes. The original is a full blown production that screams fullness and atmosphere. This version pales in comparison. It is clear, however, that she is not taking it completely seriously and her vocals verge on comic, but the song feels simply empty.

Fortunately, her ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ dominates the EP with four remixes along with her original. The first remix takes out the drum machine and has only her harpsichord and vocals pull the song through. The second is almost opposite, emphasizing on the drum machine over the other instruments. The third takes it a step up and focuses on a heavier electronic percussion. The fourth remix has a more authentic rock band feel. Unlike Autumn’s earlier remixes on other EPs, there is not much vocal manipulation in any of these remixes – they pretty much remain the same.

The live tracks are nothing special, and are an odd choice. One is an exclusive track called ‘Asleep’ which acts as an introduction to the second live track ‘Mad Girl’ that originally came from her Liar/Dead is the New Alive EP. The recorded version is superior – the live tracks only seem to perform the function of filling up the EP.

The last track is hidden and is not credited in the booklet or CD cover (the song was added at the last minute before production). It is an exclusive track called ‘Gentleman Aren’t Nice’. It’s a short narrative song with a simple harpsichord accompanying – its tone is quite cabaret/jazz.

The Limited Edition of this EP (still available at time of writing, though it will be re-released in a jewel case once it sells out) is in a digipak with a colourful, glossy booklet with photos of her from her tour.  There are also two new photos from her Opheliac photoshoot in the fold out cover.

The full track list to this EP is as follows:

1. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
2. Bohemian Rhapsody
3. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Harpsichord Rendezvous)
4. Asleep (Live)
5. Mad Girl (Live)
6. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Teatime Remix by EA)
7. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Asylum Remix by Inkydust)
8. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Bad Girl Remix by The Fire)
9. Gentleman Aren’t Nice

Like any of Autumn’s EPs, this is not for beginners. For dedicated fans, the title track is a real treat, along with the remixes though they do not deviate from her original recording that much. The rest of the EP is a big let down, and whilst you can only admire Autumn’s courage to tackle ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and the vocals let you know it is not to be taken too seriously, it is still difficult not to feel a little bit uncomfortable with it.

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