So there are these songs that we, as a society, choose as our favorites: the hits, as registered on iTunes or the Billboard Hot 100. And we hear them whether we want to or not, booming from car windows or wafting through convenience-store aisles.
While these songs are ubiquitous, however, they're seldom thought about, or in a way even actually listened to.
But what if they were? In 2008, three New York performance artists, inspired by the old TV and radio series Your Hit Parade, launched Our Hit Parade, a monthly stage show in the Joe's Pub cabaret space of the storied Public Theater. Bridget Everett, Neal Medlyn, Kenny Mellman and guests render a top-10 countdown of recent hits, note for note and word for word, but with ironic, subversive or parodic twists molded into the arrangements and presentation.
So you might get blonde, plus-sized Everett wailing Rihanna's "Hard" in leather pants, backed by two rapping pre-adolescent girls. Or Everett (who's got a great voice) and frequently shirtless skinny white guy Medlyn, in faux Indian headdresses, ripping up a medley of "Colors of the Wind" (from Pocahontas), Cher's old hit "Half-Breed" and Ke$ha's "Tick Tock" -- all accompanied by pianist Mellman, of popular drag-cabaret duo Kiki & Herb. Guests have included indie band The Magnetic Fields, stage star Alan Cumming, comedians and cabaret performers.
The cult-favorite show, featuring the three founding members, visits The Andy Warhol Museum's Off The Wall series on Jan. 21.
While this is just the second time OHP has left Manhattan, Medlyn is known to Pittsburgh audiences for his own take on a pop icon. During last season's Off the Wall, he performed Beyonce Experience Live! DVD. Medlyn has similarly honored Prince (Neal Medlyn's Unpronounceable Symbol) and Britney Spears.
OHP's love-hate vibe is about "presenting how weird and how interesting a lot of pop music is," Medlyn says by phone from New York. "People really try to push the song really far. ... Like, 'Oh, we're going to do a goth-rock verison of a Katy Perry song.'"
On Jan. 22, he says, look for a Miley Cyrus number, and Taio Cruz's "Dynamite."
As Medlyn notes, "We get excited about the new Kanye West album and the new Taylor Swift album in a way that your typical performance-artist people don't."
Our Hit Parade 8 p.m. Fri., Jan. 21. The Andy Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky St., North Side. $10-20. 412-237-8300 or ticketweb.com
- Neal Medlyn