Joe Piket’s “Talk Like a Musician”

Joe Piket’s “Talk Like a Musician” takes the unofficial award for 2021[‘s unlikeliest riff on a pop classic. You can’t really call his take on The Bangles’ mid-80’s pop smash “Talk Like an Egyptian” a spoof or parody, it has nothing to do with the original’s lyrics, but you can’t call it a cover. Piket’s version of the song recasts the original’s arrangement with a different sound and emphasis in the mix, adopts the vocal melody as much as possible, but offers an entirely new lyric.

It chooses the agonies musicians experience routinely hearing non-musicians talk as if they know something about music. There’s a certain amount of elitism in the words, but it’s never the off-putting variety. Piket never comes off like he’s tired of enduring idiots and needed to vent, there’s too much humor in the lyrics. His songwriting skill shines through in the words. He crafts several comedic opportunities into the cut trying to find rhymes for some of his lines, but never fails to deliver the goods. Even if he keeps a straight face throughout the song’s video, you can almost feel him grinning throughout the performance.

The video is a fantastic companion piece. Piket goes with the lyric video concept for this production and it’s a shrewd move. It’s a collection of music related images, including Spinal Tap of all things, and has a variety of sources, including photographs and illustrations. The video alternates these visuals with a sunglasses-clad and expressionless Piket in various poses, some with a double-neck electric guitar.

It’s a perfect marriage of promotional clip and song. Piket wants listeners to have a good time and they will, but he also manages to satisfy a personal need. Comedy or not, you don’t write this track unless you’ve got loads of stories about fans and other observers mangling music discussions. It takes an impressive amount of imagination to find humor in this that even non-musicians can appreciate. “Talk Like a Musician” has across the board application, if you think about it – a cook, auto mechanic, many professionals can appreciate Piket’s humorous sentiments.

The mix works for what it needs to do. Some listeners will wish the guitar, when it comes in, could be a little more prominent, but the rhythm section has plenty of punch. The song’s production handles the vocals well, though the backing vocals may sound thin to some. They are infrequent, however, and have little effect on the overall result.

So it’s a novelty song. It’s a creative and memorable track, however, and holds up under repeated listens. It’s far from a peak moment in Joe Piket’s career, it won’t likely merit much of a mention in career summations, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. It’s a small but rewarding gift from a supremely talented musician and songwriter in another year where such pure enjoyment is sometimes scant. “Talk Like a Musician” will bring a smile to all but the most jaded listeners and is deserving of your time. 

Michael Rand

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