The other night at an after party for the Sundance Film Festival, Courtney Love decided it would be a good idea to perform a cover of Jay-Z‘s mega hit “99 Problems.” “It either sucks or it’s genius, I don’t know,” she said before launching into it. Perhaps it was a little bit of both.
On the genius side, I’m amazed at how well she transformed such a well-known hiphop track into a completely serviceable latter period Courtney Love song. Thematically, Jay-Z’s words seem relevant to Courtney, in that his trashing of his haters mirrors her not-entirely-baseless persecution complex. And like Jay-Z, she is someone who came from troubled roots to absolutely dominate in her field of choice (although one could certainly argue that growing up poor and black is different from growing up crazy and white with a psycho-therapist for a mother and a former manager of The Grateful Dead for a father). Plus, I get excited whenever Courtney is able to overcome her personal problems (none of which involve a bitch, apparently) long enough to pick up a guitar and let loose that unmistakable growl of hers.
On the “sucks” side, well…see above. A lot of Jay-Z’s lyrics have to do with racism and being black, which is something Courtney can obviously never experience. And did she really need to pronounce the “r” at the end of the word “nigga”? It’s almost like she wanted to somersault over all the nitpicky discussions about re-appropriation, the meaning of “nigga” versus “nigger,” and whether or not it’s okay for white people to say “nigga” when they’re singing along with their favorite rap songs (I don’t), and just say a big, giant, obviously not cool racial slur. I don’t care if Patti Smith and John Lennon did it.
TL;DR: Courtney Love Mixed Bag Of Endearing And Infuriating. News at 11!