I didn’t expect this. I haven’t heard The Bangles’ 80’s hit “Talk Like an Egyptian” in many years so I didn’t immediately read the title for Joe Piket’s new single “Talk Like a Musician” and think, oh, hey, Joe Piket does The Bangles? It’s far from a literal cover. Long Island, New York’s “edgier Billy Joel” focuses his version on the completely rewritten lyric covering the frustrations and amusement he’s experienced hearing non-musicians talk about music rather than a nebulous dance craze arising from the Egyptian sands. He cops much of the Bangles’ arrangement, it sounds different naturally, but few will have a problem with his musical take here.
The production keeps things a little too low-key for me though. The vibrancy and bounce of the Bangles classic is missing here, for the most part, though the bass and drum track are a notable exception. It’s the recurrent guitar that I want to hear more of. I’m quite a fan though of how Piket’s hushed vocals are framed for listeners – this is a singer with a strong voice and his adaptability separates him from many peers. It’s undoubtedly served him well during his long career as a solo performer and fronting Joe Piket and The Storm.
This is far from that sort of material, however. Despite its comedic slant, Piket sounds at home throughout this track and his phrasing accentuates the song’s humor. There are some backing vocals near the song’s chorus and the female voice contrasts his nicely. The song’s video will be as popular as the song itself. Piket’s lyric video for “Talk Like a Musician” wants viewers/listeners to enjoy Piket’s lyrics as much as he does and even their on-screen presentation underlines the humorous aspects.
He uses a bevy of found images and clips in the video. Many of them are from popular culture, but there’s ample footage of Piket and occasionally other participants. It opens with a man jangling a shaker around to bring viewers into the song Piket soon appears. His cool attire, a low-key suit with sunglasses, fits the musical mood. His physicality throughout the video is perfect for the clip.
This song likely will not connect with everyone. The humor will be most obvious for Piket’s fellow musicians while other listeners may have to work at it some. It is, nonetheless, well worth your time. It’s performed with skill and just the right amount of panache; Piket’s performance in the video reminds me of silent movie performers. It has a Buster Keaton-like quality.
“Talk Like a Musician” is an interesting and entertaining confection. No one will say he’s breaking new ground with this performance and composition, but that’s not what it wants to do. Joe Piket wants to take our mind off our troubles for a while, make us giggle maybe, and wants to fulfill his lifelong need to perform. This new single fits the bill. People who grew up when the Bangles first released this song, like me, will especially enjoy the track.