YouTube Scavenger Hunts, part 1: “One-Armed Scissor”

“Set transmission from the one armed scissor.”
— At The Drive-In, One Armed Scissor 

As some of you may know, one of my favorite songs ever, EVER, is “One-Armed Scissor” by At The Drive-In. Also, as some of you may (or may not) know, I love YouTube covers. Some are really good, and some are really bad.

So, today, we are going to go on a whimsical journey to find a cover of “One-Armed Scissor” that does At The Drive-In justice. As a bonus, I will put my two cents into the video, and maybe even reprint a comment or two from the video itself.

First thing’s first — we need to post the studio version of the song.

The song is brilliant, even described by the band once as a “mixture of Red Bull and vodka”, which, really, it is. The song is a playable track in Guitar Hero World Tour and Rockband 3, as well as being named #255 on Pitchfork Medias “Top 500 songs of the 2000’s” and #1 on Alternative Press’ “Haircut 100” list of the top singles of the 2000’s.

Even Paramore (gross) has been known to play the end of “One Armed Scissor” as the end of performances of their song “Here We Go Again”. I guess I can’t bitch too much. Even Twi-hard’s need to know about At The Drive-In.

The song is nothing short of brilliant. However, as the internet has proven to us over the years, even something incredible can be beaten down into a pulp with horrible renditions and misguided ideas on what to do with it.

For example:

There are 9,000 things wrong with this cover. First off, let it be known, the singer made a comment about time, then he fails to sync his vocals up correctly. Secondly, he’s missing the VITAL second guitarist to add rhythm, something completely detrimental to the song’s punch. Thirdly, back to the timing thing, everyone is off-time with each other, which makes this outdoor performance fall on it’s face. Also, there’s fucking screaming, like screamo screaming, in the song, which I don’t recall Cedric Bixler-Zavala ever doing in any At The Drive-In song.

I could go on and on about it, but all I would be doing is filling myself deeper with rage.

Notable comments come from a YouTube troll named dpuknowme, saying, and I quote, “when At The Drive-In heard this, they broke up” and “I can’t stop watching this trainwreck”. Both comments have earned the guy a combined 77 votes up (as of today).

I have to agree, this was a trainwreck. You can know a song note for note, word for word, but when it comes down to playing it right, understanding the timing is the most important. When you make a comment in the beginning about tempo, then you horrible disfigure your vocals in response to the speed, you have fallen flat on your face out of the gate.

However, because I ripped these guys so bad, I’ll offer words of encouragement. At The Drive-In is a hard band to cover effectively. I like the fact they made an effort, but this has just proven that the vast majority of people who love this song and are musicians, cannot do this song (or most others by At The Drive-In) justice. It’s just how it is.

Next video:

Brazilian band Cosmonauts plays “One Armed Scissor” in a small room, probably a booth or something with acoustic insulation. The sound quality is terrible, but that should be more attributed to the sheer volume in that place.

Them Brazilians are crazy!

The cover is concise and is one of the better ones available. They time right, and from what you can hear from their vocalist, he’s pretty much spot on. I like this one, and so does a YouTuber named CycoKiller, citing “… that was wicked tight, and I’m not just saying that to be nice”.

If I have one thing to add, it would be to re-record it in a better area and probably with a better camera. It’s too distorted, and as such, I really don’t feel my take on the video is accurate because the sounds are jumbled together so tight that even I, coming from a background in shoegazing, have a hard time picking the different instrumentations apart.

From what I could hear though, they did an awesome job… I think.

And now for something a little softer:

An acoustic version?! Really?

The thing about this is, honestly, it’s really well done. I liken it to one of those “Rockabye Baby!” CD’s, except the guitar would have to be lowered in volume and overpowered by glockenspiels and triangles and such. Also, when it’s played this way, we can really hear how the verses kind of sound like a portion of “Carol of the Bells”.

He’s not singing? Oh fucking well — it’s kind of hard to play in that manner and maintain your vocals. I didn’t see Cedric Bixler-Zavala play guitar on this track.

Either way, it’s an interesting take on the song. I think it works, especially when you only have one guitar player (that’s directed at you, Disposable Heroes).

Roxiemoxie245 liked it too, saying “nice cover”, then proceeding to flirt with him. Nicely done, son.

Next on our tour, is another full band cover:

Irish ass-kickers Lake Shore Drive performing the song at what appears to be some kind of outdoor event (or improv outdoor gig — I’ve done those too).

There is one glaring thing wrong with this cover, in the fact that their lead singer fumbles on the lyrics. Either he doesn’t remember them, or he’s downed a shit-ton of Guiness (either one may be the cause), but what he does to compensate, compared to other covers of this song where people forget the words, is keep the pitches right. The singer has a phenomenal amount of energy (refer to the “Red Bull and vodka” comment described earlier) and even gets the crowd involved.

At times, the guitar and drums lose sync, but only for a second. As I stated before, At The Drive-In, in their own right, are not an easy bad to cover, and “One Armed Scissor” is far and away their most diffucult track to perform.

Since most of At The Drive-In’s fanbase located from Mexico to Brazil (of course), most of the comments on this video are in Spanish, but from what little I actually know, they’re praise.

I think this video, despite the one glaring problem, is the best cover of this song on YouTube. Feel free to make your own opinions and let me read them. If you want to comment on my blog, do so. Good, bad, whatever. Haha!

The comment box is below.



About Robert L. Franklin

Ah, the About Me section - social networking's excuse for you sounding like an elitist prick. Hmm... what to say? What to say?
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One Response to YouTube Scavenger Hunts, part 1: “One-Armed Scissor”

  1. Andrea says:

    deffinately the Irish band. 🙂 the acoustic is good too.

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