Talking Heads tribute album Everyone’s Getting Involved is well-produced karaoke, but the joyous experimentation which fuelled David Byrne's iconic band is only fleetingly present

Miley Cyrus, Paramore, Girl In Red and more pay homage to Talking Heads, with mixed results

Miley Cyrus, Linda Lindas, Hayley Williams
(Image: © John Sciulli/Getty Images for Gucci | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Coachella |Rosalind O'Connor/NBC via Getty Images)

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When it comes to Talking Heads, very little makes sense. Dancing on a bizarre tightrope of poly-rhythmic anxiety and striking avant-funk instrumentation, the off-kilter New York quartet carved out their own inexplicable brand of new wave – and, decades on, their quirky experimentation continues to inspire artists world-over. To mark the 40th anniversary of Stop Making Sense, A24 have rounded up the likes of Miley Cyrus, Kevin Abstract and Paramore to honour the iconic concert film with tribute tracks. Everyone’s Getting Involved is a sign of how far reaching the group’s influence spans – but very few are able to re-capture the same euphoric, lightning in a bottle sensation of the 1984 release.

An elephant is undoubtedly present throughout Everyone’s Getting Involved. You can feel the weight of each track’s legacy burning in each artist’s mind – and that leaves some reluctant to change the base material. From Paramore, to girl in red, to BADBADOTGOOD, many artists simply deliver well-produced karaoke tracks – while there’s a commendable degree of enthusiasm, there’s minimal attempt at experimentation. 

By-the-book covers also lack the disarming nerves of the ‘84 originals; when watching Stop Making Sense, there’s something magical about Byrne’s nervous humility, his jittering, deer-in-headlights uncertainty. The stronger tributes are those that feel a little more shaky, a little more daring. Miley Cyrus’ glitzy take on Psycho Killer is a strong example of this, transforming Byrne’s twitching paranoia into a bold and dark dance anthem. Similarly, Jean Dawson’s musing version of Swamp is fabulous, a soaring classical extravaganza sprinkled with country-tinged flutters.

Another interesting burst of experimentation comes from rapper Kevin Abstract with his cool take on Once In A Lifetime. However, the track does reflect another downfall: a lot of experimentation strips Stop Making Sense of its quirks. Certain artists make the Talking Heads a tad too clean-cut, too cool, dropping cowbells and congas for something more serious. Blondshell serves up a fittingly angelic alt-rock version of Thank You For Sending Me An Angel, but it doesn’t quite live up to the bounce of the original. Elsewhere, Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado serve up a smooth version of Slippery People, but their Argentinian slowcore sound certainly feels flat in comparison to the original’s vibrant vigour. 

Arguably the finest tribute on the record comes from the youngest group involved. The Linda Lindas’ version of Found A Job jangles effortlessly, a floating burst of glistening, sun-kissed post-punk. While it doesn’t deviate far from the original, it’s punchy and earnest. And it makes sense – the girl gang aren’t chart-topping superstars yet. Just like Byrne back in ‘84, the anxious desire to experiment is tangible. They’re toying with new sounds, flexing their creative muscles and thoroughly having fun with it. The focus is on pushing themselves, rather than living up to the legacy of the track.

Overall, Everyone’s Getting Involved serves as a sign of just how influential the Talking Heads’ have been over the years. While nobody can entirely live up to the might of Stop Making Sense’s boundless creativity and bubbling communal euphoria, it’s commendable to see so many stars eagerly embracing the off-beat icons.

Emily Swingle

Full-time freelancer, part-time music festival gremlin, Emily first cut her journalistic teeth when she co-founded Bittersweet Press in 2019. After asserting herself as a home-grown, emo-loving, nu-metal apologist, Clash Magazine would eventually invite Emily to join their Editorial team in 2022. In the following year, she would pen her first piece for Metal Hammer - unfortunately for the team, Emily has since become a regular fixture. When she’s not blasting metal for Hammer, she also scribbles for Rock Sound, Why Now and Guitar and more.