Radiohead hits covered on ukelele: Amanda Palmer

Punk cabaret diva Amanda Palmer today released a 7-track digital album of Radiohead ukelele covers. Choose from 320k mp3, FLAC, and other formats, download for all of a whopping 84 cents. Includes many of my own favorite Radiohead tracks: Fake Plastic Trees, High And Dry, No Surprises, Idioteque, Creep, and Exit Music (For A Film).

Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele

( via Kristie Lu Stout)


  1. Awesomely awesome covers. The songs hold up so well in any format, but AFP’s take one each one is simply phenomenal. Best $7.00 I’ve spent in awhile. I figured a buck a song was the least I owed. Thanks AFP!

  2. Good stuff! It looks like she’s using a voluntary pricing model similar to Radiohead’s In Rainbows. Hopefully more artists will catch on to this trend and eventually cut the big labels out completely.

  3. I was thinking of holding out for the vinyl, but I may get the FLACs anyway. Her version of Creep during the encore was a thing of beauty.

  4. I really like that she set the cost at a minimum. The 0.84 cents covers Paypal’s and Radiohead license fees– any price a person chooses above that goes straight to her, Amanda Palmer. It is not as open as Nice Inch Nails releasing music under the Creative Commons and even posting the album to Bittorrent tracker, along with offering different versions of physical released and a tip jar.

  5. Can somebody explain the appeal of ukeleles to me? I’d never heard of this woman, but I love Radiohead, so I went to the site and listened to two of tracks. She has an impressive voice, but why does she insist on playing that instrument? Ukelele has its place, but I don’t get why it’s become so popular over the last few years.

    I understand that they’re cheap and easy to learn how to play, but so are recorders, and you don’t see posts up here about the latest cover album of Talking Heads covers as interpreted on the recorder. The simplicity of the instrument results in very simple music, which is fine for a while, but, for me at least, gets old fairly quickly.

    I’m thinking that she’s an attractive woman with a strong voice who couldn’t make it as a straight singer, so she picked up a ukelele and now she’s geek-chic. Does that sound correct, or just jerky?

    1. I’m thinking that she’s an attractive woman with a strong voice who couldn’t make it as a straight singer, so she picked up a ukelele and now she’s geek-chic

      Not really, she already has a huge and committed following from the Dresden Dolls & her solo output, and various side projects.

      I am currently torn between my hatred of the ukulele and my love of Ms Palmers’s work.

    2. Hrm, dude, she is already quite famous as a straight up singer, and even for her live work with the boston pops.
      Just look her name up on youtube.

    3. “The simplicity of the instrument results in very simple music, which is fine for a while, but, for me at least, gets old fairly quickly.”

      There seems to be a musical wave of infantilization as typified by the cloying nursery rhyme soundtrack to JUNO.

    4. Maybe a 5 on the Jerky Meter ;-) No idea about her previous success, but even if your assessment is correct she’s merely doing what we all do — working hard to fail better. It’s not uncommon for an artist to adopt a “set me apart” sound or characteristic, often in the form of a throwback instrument or meme.

      Forty years ago one of those instruments was the recorder; in time, the nostalgia/novelty/old-is-newness wore off. The current uke-mania p’bly started with what…Israel Kamakawio’ole back in ’92 or so? Give it another few years and some other annoying thing will be reinvented.

    5. Please, consider that expanding your boundaries is often more enjoyable and rewarding than sniping from behind them.

      You may not know her, or respect her choice of instruments, but the Boston Symphony Orchestra sure does.

      also, her husband’s cthulukelele was featured on BB just the other day, so there’s that.

      1. Thanks for all the good comments, guys. Didn’t know she was in the Dresden Dolls or came from a cabaret background. Totally makes sense now – she’s just putting on a show and looking to entertain.

        mdh, I didn’t think I was ‘sniping from behind [my boundaries]’, I was merely stating that I don’t like ukelele, as seems to be the case with some of the other commenters here who’ve agreed with me on that point. I don’t have anything against people who play ukelele, I was merely trying to understand why it’s recently become so popular.

        1. in response to your earlier question, the “…who couldn’t make it as a…” part of your comment did sound a touch jerky, and a bit judgy. No worries, It’s the internet. Miscommunications are common.

    6. For me, the simplicity of the instrument is a major part of the appeal. It necessitates an approach to a song that is fairly unadorned. (Unless you’re Jake Shimabukuro or the like.) The result makes ukulele music very intimate and approachable. While I would certainly go crazy if everything I heard was uke music, but it provides a nice contrast to the heavily produced things I hear.

  6. DB – would you be so kind as to post the link the to Talking Heads covers played on recorder CD?

  7. David, sorry to say but that’s more jerky than correct. Amanda Palmer is a very accomplished recording artist with a ton of rabid fans , this seems to be something she has done for their enjoyment and just generally for fun. That’s the main attraction to the uke in general, it’s just fun.

  8. #5– Sort of dickish, yes. No offense. She came to the music industry via cabaret and performance art, there’s never really been a “trying to make it as a straight singer” period of her career. Not really one to jump to the defense of people I don’t know, but you caught me before coffee. ;)

    As to the ukulele, I got no fracking idea, man.

  9. Wow. I was browsing for Uke tabs last night and stumbled across the Creep cover (I already have an mp3 live bootleg of her singing it somewhere).
    I didn’t realise there’s be a whole album.

    By the way, Creep on Uke is G, B, C, Cm. One bar of each chord, same progression the whole way through the song. You can use a Cmadd9 alternating with Cm in a few bits (Cmadd9 is G;D#;G;D – it doesn’t have the root note, so there’s probably some even more obscure name for this).

  10. “Magical Ukulele”


    I thought that only Apple products were “magical”. Ms Palmer’s likely to get a call from the Apple people about her use of ‘their’ term!

    Gawd, I hope so. I’d live to see a throwdown between Jobs and Palmer (with, maybe a bit of Gaiman thrown in for good measure).


  11. She played ‘Creep’ at one of Gaiman’s book signings in Poland earlier this year. She insisted that the interpreter translate every line in the song, which was very funny since he had to wriggle around the curses.

    Here’s a vid (more for sound than sight, I’m short and the crowd was vicious)

  12. I for one love the Uke revival. It’s fun and easy instrument to play for those of us with no talent, and sounds even better when played by someone with tons of talent (like AFP here or even better Sophie Madeleine! Palmer is probably better on the piano…). But it’s not for everyone, I suppose.

    Looking forward to getting this. She is offering physical bundles too, with red vinyl LPs and a download… She’s even offering hand painted ukes — some she painted herself! At a premium, of course. Go see:

    And she’s going to do a live webcast this evening, too…

    I didn’t think that Gaiman and Palmer were married yet? But they are the only celebrity couple I know anything about. Nemanda Galmer? Aeil Paiman? Nemanda Paiman? He should probably just take her middle name (Neil F*&%ing Gaiman)…

  13. The appeal of the ukelele:

    1) It requires very little skill compared to most other instruments.
    2) The performer can sing at the same time.
    3) You can look and feel like a giant playing a guitar – inherent humor value.
    4) Playing one and recording it – especially if you are a comely lass – is an easy and reliable way to be featured on Boing Boing, a popular blog.

    That’s all I’ve got.

  14. I actually know Amanda, who poured shots for me as a barista in Harvard Square and later worked for me at my creative shop. I will vouch for her nearly 20 year commitment to the performing arts [i.e., way before Dresden Dolls] and her brainpower and backgammon skills. She’s ‘made it’ by dint of her own hard work, so back off, haters….

    Bit o’ trivia: her eyebrows are really cool tattoos.

  15. @DavidB
    How I got turned onto the Dolls is worth one of those little public radio self exploration vignettes. But I won’t drag BB into it.
    For me, the evocative, AFPness of the Doll’s comes through on a lot of their live stuff that you could pick up on old fan sites. Songs like Halfjack, and Delilah would make me weep, their covers are screams, Brian smashes the drum kit and Mander lifts things to pinnacles and pounces like kittens on the keyboard, etc. etc. Yeah, fun band. Accessible to the emotions and relevant…
    Isn’t there a live web hang out thingy today 6 ESTish??

  16. Is there some problem with staying on topic with Ms. Palmer’s music instead of dissecting her boyfriend’s marital history? If that’s what y’all want, I could ask the Boingers to start doing posts about Brangelina and Bennifer.

  17. In case anyone cares, the records are about to sell out. It was down to less than 180 out of 1000 a minute ago. The bundles with the shirt and album are gone… or they are now back. The hand painted ukes by her are gone, not surprisingly… The ukes painted by her friend are still around. They are going faster than I thought…

  18. Managed to get an album before they completely sold out. Listening to the download now… I quite like it. Yay, good music.

  19. re:The appeal of the ukelele:

    It takes, like any other musical instrument, plenty of skill to play one well.

    Although I’m not a big fan of Amanda’s uke skills, it works for her.

    my site with lots of ukulele:

    If “that’s all you got” it ain’t enough.

  20. For everyone who’d rather have more Dresden Dolls and piano, than more ukulele, make sure to check out this archive of live show tapings if you haven’t already: Some of them are really great.

    I’m hesitant to complain, but I really hope this ukulele phase ends soon. It’s okay music, but her piano work is just magnificent.

  21. That’s not at all true. From Neil’s blog:

    “for the record, we separated well over five years ago, did the paperwork on the divorce over a year ago, remain close and supportive, love being parents together and enjoy being friends (and, like in some early seventies sit-com, next door neighbours) more than we did being a married couple.” (written in 2009)

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