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See St. Vincent Nod to Elvis Costello, Play ‘Cheerleader’ on ‘Conan’


St. Vincent hasn’t crossed paths much with Elvis Costello, but last year’s SPIN cover star does share the bespectacled new-wave laureate’s distaste for convention. In a November performance on The Late Show With Jimmy Fallon, rather than take the expected route and promote a song off of third album Strange Mercy (one of SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2011), Annie Clark and her band covered the Pop Group’s “She Is Beyond Good and Evil.”

Last night on Conan, the trend continued. St. Vincent gave a predictably sophisticated rendition of Strange Mercy standout “Cheerleader,” but not before launching into — and then abruptly stopping — a cover of Elvis Costello’s “Radio Radio,” an homage to Costello’s notorious 1977 Saturday Night Live appearance. “I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen, there’s no reason to play that song,” she deadpanned, to little sign of comprehension from the studio audience. Watch below, via the Audio Perv.

St. Vincent is scheduled to play Coachella on the Saturday bill April 14 and April 21. As for Clark and the group’s connections to Costello, they were both on the Bonnaroo lineup a couple of years ago, and they were on Fallon the same week when she made a guest appearance with Kid Cudi in November 2010, but it remains to be seen whether the English pub-rock veteran will have any comment on her oblique allusion. Their most obvious similarity lies in their shared taste for mannered, literary-leaning lyrics; “Tried too hard just to be clever,” Clark sings on “Cheerleader” — which could incidentally be considered the polar opposite of Best Coast’s “Boyfriend” — and you suspect Costello knows the feeling.