Nouvelle Vague is a French band known for covering songs in a bossa nova style. Since 2003, the band has released five albums. I Could Be Happy is their latest one, and in addition to some lovely covers, it contains four original tracks. You can listen to the album in full here.
I first discovered Nouvelle Vague in high school and was instantly charmed by them. Last month I had the opportunity to see them live, and their beautiful, soothing sound made me fall in love with them all over again. So after listening to their latest album on repeat, I created three outfits inspired by songs from I could be happy.
I Could Be Happy
I Could Be Happy was originally released in the ’80s by Scottish post-punk band Altered Images. The original song is very much a product of its time, as you can recognize in the era-specific beat. (Even the video is very ’80s.)
Nouvelle Vague worked their magic to transform this upbeat piece into a mellow and dreamy track. The effect is impressive, particularly because the change of tone shifts the focus to the underlying sadness of the lyrics. So we transition from a cheerful ’80s song to a more melancholic one. This is why I love covers: they can set a musical metamorphosis in motion.
For this outfit, I drew inspiration from the album cover’s colors, consisting of black, yellow and orange hues. Combine a yellow camisole top with rust trousers and a black blazer. Then complete the outfit by adding black heels, a set of rings, and a layered necklace.
I Wanna Be Sedated
The Ramones played a major part in the punk rock movement, and I Wanna Be Sedated is one of their most famous hits. So how can one cover a punk rock anthem in an original way? By completely transforming it and offering it a Brazilian bossa nova vibe, like Nouvelle Vague did.
What I first noticed about this cover was its sensuality, a word I wouldn’t normally associate with a Ramones song. The Nouvelle Vague version reminds me less of fighting against the establishment, and more of Jessica Rabbit’s musical moment in Who framed Roger Rabbit.
Therefore, I decided to create an outfit suitable for a night on the town. The dominant color here is black, in honor of the Ramones’ signature black leather jackets. Combine a black jumpsuit with a pair of black pumps, and layer on a dark blue faux fur jacket that’s bound to turn heads. Accessorize with a choker and a pair of ear cuffs. And don’t forget to finish off the look with a bold red lip.
Athol Brose was originally performed by the Cocteau Twins. The word “crescendo” would best describe the original. The cover tones down this feature, but by no means eliminates it. The amazing vocals of lead singer Liset Alea complement the dreamy melody, peaking halfway through the song, then continuing softly until the end.
For an outfit inspired by Athol Brose, I suggest an elegant approach. Make a light grey shift dress the centerpiece of your look, accessorizing it with black sandals, a layered necklace, a statement ring, and a spherical shoulder bag. This look is appropriate for any parties you have coming up on your social calendar.
What do you think?
Are you a fan of Nouvelle Vague? Do you prefer the originals? How do you feel about covers in general? Would you wear any of these outfits? Let us know in the comments below!