Certainly, if you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the better part of the past year to about 18 months or so, you might be familiar with Monogem, an electro pop duo featuring singer/songwriter Jen Hirsh and producer/songwriter Scott Smith. The project’s name is derived from a unique cosmic phenomenon — a Monogem ring, the leftover glow of a supernova explosion. In fact, interestingly enough, one of the largest monogem rings in the observable universe is located near the Gemini and Cancer constellations. And for Hirsh, who has a late June birthday, on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, monogem has deeply personal meaning.
The duo of Hirsh and Smith have received quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere for a sound that has been compared to CHVRCHES and Solange — although the duo have publicly described their sound as “disco-tinged, California pool-party tunes” with elements of funk and soul. However you describe their sound, the duo’s self-titled debut was released earlier this year to critical praise among major media outlets and some of the major players across the blogosphere including Interview Magazine, Vice’s NOISEY, Elle Magazine, Indie Shuffle, Hillydilly, Earmilk and others, which has expanded their profile nationally. And building up on that buzz, the duo has been busily working on a forthcoming EP; however, in the meantime, Hirsh and Smith have released a cover of The Weeknd‘s mega-hit “Earned It,” which was part of the soundtrack for 50 Shades of Grey. The original is a slow-burning track that bristles with a complex array of emotions — ambivalence, uncertainty and desire simultaneously. Sonically, the song is a sparsely arranged and is comprised of dramatic piano and horn chords and it’s spacious enough to give The Weeknd room for his aching vocals.
Monogem’s cover is hauntingly atmospheric and features Hirsh’s sultry vocals over gentle layers of bubbling and shimmering synths, swirling electronics, and a skittering drum beat. And whereas the original conveys much more complex emotions, the Monogem version conveys a plaintively aching need making an already seductive song, irresistibly sexy.