"All Summer Long"

by Kid Rock

(Top Dog)

A friend recently spent two weeks in Croatia, far from American pop culture—except, he said with concern, for Kid Rock's "All Summer Long." The song "followed [him] there." You might not expect that from a song so pronouncedly all-American, but this thing sure has got global reach: It went to number one on the British charts, while it has only reached number 25 on Billboard's Hot 100 so far, thanks to Kid Rock's refusal to allow the song to be sold digitally in the U.S.

If you're somehow unfamiliar with "All Summer Long," the music mashes up a pair of classic-rock warhorses, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London," over which Kid Rock rhymes "internet" and "never will forget" and sings about how he spent the summer of '89 listening to Skynyrd, just like every other burnout in the upper Midwest. (I'm from Minneapolis. Trust me.) It's not a good record, but at least Kid Rock doesn't sound like a preening jerk, going instead for the kind of sincere-white-guy mainstream-rock version of "soul" that has made Bradley Nowell a posthumous legend. And in its stunted way, the lyric is a stroke of genius: Kid Rock wrote a song about singing his favorite song by writing new words to his favorite song.

"All Summer Long"

by Hit Masters

(Hip Kiddy)

Now, in the proud tradition of '50s labels like Bell rushing out cheapo versions of rock hits (see Ace's 2005 compilation Rock 'n' Roll Bell Ringers, a historically fascinating disc that no one in her right mind would play more than once) and Brooklyn's infamous Kennedy Fried Chicken, we have Hit Masters' "All Summer Long," a note-for-note cover by an "act" that specializes in karaoke remakes that—plot point—are available to consumers of 99-cent digital downloads.

Hit Masters re-create Kid Rock so precisely that it's tempting to imagine the "group" just took the original and Pro-Tooled it a little. The voice has less character (whatever else you can say about Kid Rock, "not a character" isn't part of it) and there's slightly more digital glare. The Hit Masters version has lapped the original, rising to number 19 on the Hot 100 this week. It's perfect symmetry: Kid Rock brings back '70s AOR; Hit Masters bring back '70s Ronco. recommended

Kid Rock plays Wed Sept 10, Puyallup Fairground, 7 pm, $30–$60, all ages.