The world is full of gimmicky cover bands, and we suppose The Baseballs aren’t really all that different. But their gimmick is a pretty great one: Take the mainstreamiest of mainstream pop hits of the past few years and do them up greaser/rockabilly style, complete with Elvis-style hiccuppy vocals, upright bass and doo-wop harmonies. Add to all this the fact that they’re from Germany and bring a certain Teutonic stiffness to the whole thing, and you have the recipe for a fairly surreal but occasionally awesome listening experience.
The Baseballs have apparently been big in Europe for a couple years now, where their cover of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”–the best thing they’ve ever done, as far as we can tell–was a huge hit all over the continent. They’re just now starting to crack the UK and no doubt have their sights set on America next. Will U.S. audiences embrace a bunch of German dudes–named Sam, Digger, and Basti, we might add–who look and sound kinda like Sha Na Na and do really earnest versions of Snow Patrol and Katy Perry songs? Your guess is as good as ours. But we will boldly predict right now that they’ll probably make a cameo appearance on the next season of American Idol. The producers of that sinking battleship eat this kind of kitschy shit up with both hands.
The Baseballs’ original videos, which are all shot to look like grainy ’50s newsreel footage, are kind of entertaining, but they pale in comparison to the many clips floating around YouTube of the group’s appearances on various European TV shows. To give just one example: The Finnish version of Big Brother chose to have the band perform inside a glass box. Why? Were the producers afraid those Finnish Big Brother kids would rip Sam, Digger and Basti limb from limb in a rockabilly-induced frenzy? We’ll never know.
As great as that Big Brother clip is, to really get an idea of the Hasselhoffian awesomeness of these guys, we prefer this video that’s apparently taken from some Scandinavian version of Top of the Pops. (The Baseballs are huge in Scandinavia. In fact, you might say they should change their name up there to The Softballs. Boom! Sorry, we might be a little drunk right now.) The music is so inauthentic to begin with that somehow, the lip-syncing totally works.
Side note: The Baseballs call their sound “voc ‘n’ roll.” Suddenly, our Softball joke doesn’t sound so lame, does it?