Joe Exotic, if the Netflix docuseries Tiger King is anything to go by, is a terrible person. Aside from the obvious issues with keeping wild animals captive for profit, Joe seems to have emotionally and physically manipulated his husbands with drugs and probably put a hit out on his big cat world nemesis, Carole Baskin. And yet, just like other famous musically-inclined scumbags Charles Manson and David Koresh, Joe Exotic’s collection of songs—many of which are accompanied by extraordinary music videos—have become an object of fascination.
Naturally, given how popular Tiger King is, it was only a matter of time before musicians who are thankfully not Joe Exotic began to give his body of (very likely lip-synced) work new life through covers of tracks such as “Here Kitty Kitty” and “I Saw A Tiger”
The initial batch of what we hope will soon become an entire wave of Joe Exotic covers comes from B.J. Barham of American Aquarium. In an article on “Joe’s” music—actually written and performed by Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton—from Slate, Barham describes being enthralled by a story he calls “a train wreck you can’t look away from.” Barham told Slate that “he had to do 15 or 20 takes of ‘I Saw A Tiger’ to get one where he made it through the entire song without laughing,” and says the track is “everything I love about cheesy anthem rock.”
Barham goes on to say “it could be an ‘80s Springsteen song if it wasn’t about the tiger holocaust,” and notes that he wants to use “I Saw A Tiger” as his band’s “walkout song for at least a year” once they’re able to start performing again. As powerful as this first cover is, Barham also recognized the need to perform another version of “Here Kitty Kitty,” lending a fresh perspective to the world’s foremost ballad about feeding your husband to tigers.
As you sit around waiting for other musicians to tackle the Exotic oeuvre, read the rest of the Slate article for more on the tiger king’s music, which, like just about everything he touches, is borne of layers upon layers of lies and absurdity.
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