Each month, Brooklyn Based will premiere an mp3 recorded by a Brooklyn musician exclusively for BB and you! We’re excited to be working in partnership with Nadim Issa at his state-of-the-art recording studio in Gowanus, Let ‘Em In Music. This month’s mp3, “Oops…I Did it Again,” is performed by Alina Simone. Look for future songs on our blog.
Alina Simone has a thing for Britney Spears. In an interview last spring the singer-songwriter let the world know that she listened to the pop star’s album “Circus” on the daily. So it should have come as no surprise that when we asked Simone to record a song for Brooklyn Based, she suggested covering Spears’ breakthrough hit, “Oops!…I Did it Again.” You better believe we got our school girl kilts out in anticipation.
The result is raw, powerful, and slightly reminiscent of her indie rock cover album of songs by the Russian singer and cult figure Yanka Dyagileva. But why would Simone find such musical inspiration in a pop star better known for her offstage antics than her songwriting skills? Turns out, Spears’ song got stuck in her head as mainstream pop songs always do, through overexposure.
“I spent time in Russia, working internationally, and Britney was everywhere, she was the soundtrack to my life,” said Simone, who is from Russia but was raised in the States. When she first heard Spears in the 90s, Simone “hated her” and thought her music marked the “downfall of Western Civilization.” But the former Disney star’s effect on Simone turned out to be so great that she devoted a chapter of her upcoming book, You Must Go and Win, to her “obsession.”
“Her albums are great,” said Simone. “They’re not the highest form of artistry but I enjoy it, it’s good pop music.”
The book, which Simone describes as, “A collection of tragic-comic essays (mostly) about my misadventures in indie rock, but also about my admittedly strange family and my travels in Russia,” is due out next year. Many of the essays are set in Brooklyn, including one called “Down and Out on Hope Street,” about a subletting disaster in Williamsburg punctuated by a flea-ridden mattress. Better than bed bugs, we guess. “Gloom-Deflecting-Mailman-Warrior-Gods,” another essay in the collection, “focuses on my disastrous (and hopefully hilarious) experiences with Craigslist auditions,” Simone explains.
High- or low-brow tastes and flea bites aside, looking at Simone’s past, she has a pretty good track record of choosing which artists to cover. Her album of Dyagileva covers, Everyone is Crying Out to Me, Beware, was critically acclaimed. Simone has said that she recorded the album to introduce Americans to a person and culture they didn’t know much about. Her Britney cover is perhaps an inverse of that formula–we know way too much about the pop star, but get to discover a new side of Simone through the song.
Simone was born in Kharkov, Ukraine to Russian parents and moved to the U.S. when she was one. She has lived in the Sunset Park/South Slope area since moving here two years ago from North Carolina. “I’ve never felt at home until I moved here,” she said.
Her second full-length album, Make Your Own Danger, will be released with You Must Go and Win in June 2011. “The album is neither quirkier nor folkier,” says Simone. “If anything, it’s the most accessible and polished collection of songs I’ve yet recorded.” You can listen to “Beautiful Machine,” from the new album here, or, for now, satiate yourself with her gorgeous, stripped-down take on “Oops…I Did it Again.”