Local Current Blog

Nick Cave, Weird Al, Mark Mothersbaugh, Katy Perry, and others contribute to a very strange one-song cover album

In one of the most idiosyncratic examples of the fine art and music worlds coming together, a crew of artists—including Nick Cave; Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh; Katy Perry; Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo; Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator; “Weird Al” Yankovic; Stan Ridgeway of Wall of Voodoo; and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett—have contributed to pop surrealist Mark Ryden’s recent Los Angeles exhibition, entitled The Gay Nineties, by all covering the same song.

The song, “Daisy Bell (bicycle built for two),” was composed in 1892 by Harry Darce, and has since taken on a life of its own in pop culture. The song has been covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks, Blur, and, most famously, HAL 9000, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the record containing the songs (well, song), which Ryden is calling The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music: Daisy Bell, was printed on 999 copies of 180-gram red vinyl, half of which will be sold during the exhibition, and half of which will be sold online at the artist’s website starting May 13. Appropriately, the records will sell for $99.99 each, and proceeds will go to Little Kids Rock: an organization that supports music education in underprivileged elementary schools.

So, how did Ryden corral so many musical collaborators? Following the lead of other contemporary artists like Andy Warhol with his portraits of Debby Harry, and Jeff Koons with his titanic Lady Gaga sculpture, Ryden has found muses in musicians like Katy Perry and Tyler, The Creator. Tyler, for example, had the cover of his album Wolf designed by Ryden, and Perry will be featured in a darkly kitsch portrait in the exhibit. Working as a commercial artist earlier in his career, Ryden created art for releases by Red Hot Chili Peppers (One Hot Minute), Aerosmith (the “Love in an Elevator” single), and—most prominently—Michael Jackson, whose Dangerous album cover was designed by Ryden.

The exhibit also features other work by Ryden that plays with imagery from its famed namesake decade. If you find yourself in L.A., you can catch the exhibit through June 28th at the newly opened Kohn Gallery in Hollywood. And if you score a copy of the album, bring it by our studios so we can give it a spin.

KT Lindemann is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Morris, pursuing studio art and Spanish. She is a native of the Twin Cities and is a wannabe musician, artist, and music writer.

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