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Editorial

(Un)Covered: Skid Row (Downtown)

Skid Row (Downtown)”
Writers: Alan Menken, Howard Ashman
Original Release Date: 1982

Just in time for Halloween, I came across a cover song from a horror comedy musical that, while not spooky, will definitely add a spring in your step. But first, the original:

Even if, like me, you haven’t seen Little Shop of Horrors, everyone can recognize the giant venus fly-trap that features predominantly in the musical. Written by Howard Ashman and with music by Alan Menken, the musical premiered in 1982, based on a 1960 movie of the same name. The story revolves around the love blossoming between two flower shop workers, Seymour and Audrey, as well as the carnivorous venus flytrap that mysteriously appeared during an eclipse. Honestly, it sounds ridiculous—and I’m into it. This version of “Skid Row (Downtown)” is the second song on the soundtrack from the 2003 Broadway revival. In it, we meet Audrey and Seymour who both lament their unfortunate lives and complain about where they live. The lyrical content sounds similar to a lot of pop-punk songs when you think about it, but the musical is heavily influenced by Motown and early sixties rock ’n’ roll, making it more doo-wop than hardcore.

A few years back, Dallon Weekes and Brendon Urie released a free cover of “Skid Row (Downtown)”. It wasn’t released under the Panic! at the Disco name, but then-guitarist Ian Crawford also played on it. In their cover, Urie takes the role of Audrey (and the Bag Lady) while Weekes plays Seymour and the gang of urchins who help set the scene multiple times during the show. It’s no surprise that this cover came out around the same time as Panic!’s third album, Vices & Virtues—it has the same vaudevillian quality to it, with a more pronounced guitar part, and two powerful voices. We always knew that Urie was made for Broadway, but this cover proves that Weekes can be just as theatrical—what do we have to do to see him on The Great White Way?

While the Broadway cast is made up of theatre professionals and not rock stars, you can’t deny that there’s something electric about the combination of Weekes and Urie’s voices. Their cover makes me wish for another Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors.

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