Wake Me Up – Evolution of a Song   Leave a comment


Wake Me Up by Avicii entered the US charts in June of 2013 ago and as of this publishing is sitting at number 11 on the US charts (Aug 29, 2013).  The 23 year old DJ was born Tim Bergling in Stockholm, Sweden.  When I learned this my first reaction was… “Huh… He doesn’t sound Swedish.

Foolish me! Avicii produced and mixed the tack, and the vocals were done by American singer Aloe Blacc, otherwise known as Egbert Nathaniel Dawkins III.  Whoa… Why would you use a stage name when your parents bestowed you with the greatest name that there ever was?  Blacc is on his way up and you can find more of his music here.  He has an amazing soul sound.

I’m going to go on record and say I am not fan of the music video.  When I listen to house music I do not like to get interrupted with story line.  How am I supposed to power through endless spread sheets at work when I am constantly being interrupted by the plight of a teen mother searching for acceptance in a small minded American Town!

I’m a much bigger fan of the live non-House version here:

Blacc’s voice is soothing and the American roots of this international hit really stand out here.

In clicking around the vast internet to learn more about this tune I found that there are a references to few other versions of this song floating.  And that means there is another song whose history needs to be cleared up!

The single for Wake Me Up was released in the US on June 17 2013, the first track from Avicii’s upcoming album True. However in the UK the single was not set to be released until September, closer to the release of the album.  With a three month gap between when fans in the UK started hearing the song and when they would actually be able to purchase it something interesting obvious happened.

A company called Spark Productions produced a low quality cover of the song under the title Wake Me Up (A Tribute to Avicii) and released it for sale online in the UK. Confused fans assumed it to be the official version and in two weeks the cover jumped to 26 on the UK charts.

Here is a short clip of the tune until I can manage to find the full version (starts at 3:17):

This is… apparently legal.

I’m no big city lawyer, but I did some research (*cough*wikipedia*cough*) and found a few interesting facts about musical copyright law.   There is what is known as a Mechanical License, wherein a company can legally produce a similar version of a copyrighted song for sale. Mechanical Licenses can be obtained through several companies for a service fee and that company will distribute a portion of the royalties made on each cover back to the song’s copyright holder.  This law was created to protect the rights of companies that made piano rolls for player pianos in the early 1900s.  And because of what is know as a Compulsory License this can be done without permission from the song’s copyright holder, so long as they are compensated with a portion of the cover’s profits.

Avicii, realizing he was losing ground to a knock off of his own work, released the single in the UK early.  It hit number one in three weeks and Sparks Productions’ version is now no where to be seen.  Nor is Sparks Productions as a company.  Aside from their listings on the Amazon MP3 store theyno web presence.  All of the music they have produced has been low quality “Tributes’ to popular songs which they sell though Amazon and iTunes.

Pretty clever, Sparks Productions, pretty clever.  It reminds me of horror film company The Asylum, known for their “mockbusters,” low budget films in the vain of blockbusters.  They have given us Atlantic Rim, Almighty Thor, and the mega successful Syfy original movie Sharknado.

A non-disingenuous Gaelic cover has been released by Coláiste Lurgan, an Irish Language school located in Inverin, County Galway, Ireland.

Pretty freaking awesome.  It is amazing how magical a song can become when it is properly treated and not just copied for an easy profit.  The student’s at Coláiste Lurgan gave this song a whole new depth and beauty.  More of their covers can be found here on YouTube.

That’s the surprising history of a very new song! What other songs have a history that needs clearing up? Tell me below!


Posted August 29, 2013 by atomicsam in Music

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