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Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck share dreadful first single from new album '18'

Jeff Beck and Johnny Depp - 'This is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr'

After coming out on top during his libel trial against ex-wife Amber Heard earlier this month, Johnny Depp swiftly joined British blues-rock God Jeff Beck onstage for a few covers during Beck’s June 2nd concert in Gateshead, England. During that show, Beck announced that he and Depp had recorded an entire album together and that the LP was slated to be released in July.

Now, that album has a name, a release date, and a lead single. 18 will be out on July 16th and will feature a variety of covers and instrumentalists recorded between the two principal artists. The album will also feature two songs written and sung by Depp himself, the first of which has now been released.

‘This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr’ isn’t a particularly good effort: it’s got some early David Bowie energy, complete with acoustic guitar strums and the bolero drum pattern from ‘Space Oddity’. That’s perfectly adequate but so cliched that it’s practically eye-rolling. Where the track really flies off the rails is in the strange fetishisation of its central subject, whom Depp alternately calls “a perfect cocoon entwined in gold thread” and someone “torn at the seams for daring to dream”.

Depp basically puts Lamarr on a pedestal so high that no human being could actually live up to her description. He claims to know her thoughts, which are too pure, and her intentions, which are too noble, that are being stifled by… the entertainment industry that made her a star. Yup, this is where the ick factor gets turned up to the max, as a weirdly horny ode to a long-dead starlet turns into a rebuke against public perception and the Hollywood machine.

Depp is no poet, so this story is about as thinly-veiled as an allusion can possibly be. Even if it were just a song about Lamarr and nothing more, it would be a clunky and overwritten mess of a track. But when Depp uses the image of an icon that has been dead for 20 years to air his gripes about how he doesn’t “believe in humans anymore”, you can practically feel the pH in the room change as a strange infatuation turns to absolute cringe.

Meanwhile, Beck just pumps out a retread of his celestial lead guitar work that he’s been rehashing for the past 40 years or so. Beck isn’t really a blues player anymore – he’s got lots of ambient tones that replaced the blues edge long ago. It’s still cool, and perhaps the only palatable part of this track, but it doesn’t do nearly enough to elevate the song beyond its schmaltzy strings, basic chord progression, and ghastly lyrical content.

If you’re one of those weirdos who has defended Depp to the ends of this earth, then maybe you’ve got a new summer jam with ‘This is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr’. For everyone else, take one morbidly curious listen and then run as far away from this song as humanly possible. As we sift through the early candidates for the ‘Song of the Summer’, at least we know that no song can get any worse than ‘This is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr’. Unless Heard decides to come back with a diss track, that is.

Check out the video for ‘This is a Song for Hedy Lamarr’, plus the tracklisting for 18, down below. 18 is set for a July 16th release.

18 tracklisting:

  • ‘Midnight Walker’ (Davy Spillane cover)
  • ‘Death and Resurrection Show’ (Killing Joke cover)
  • ‘Time’ (Dennis Wilson cover)
  • ‘Sad Motherfuckin’ Parade’ (Johnny Depp original)
  • ‘Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)’ (Beach Boys cover)
  • ‘This Is a Song for Miss Hedy Lamarr’ (Johnny Depp original)
  • ‘Caroline, No’ (Beach Boys cover)
  • ‘Ooo Baby Baby’ (The Miracles cover)
  • ‘What’s Going On’ (Marvin Gaye cover)
  • ‘Venus in Furs’ (The Velvet Underground cover)
  • ‘Let It Be Me’ (The Everly Brothers cover)
  • ‘Stars’ (Janis Ian cover)
  • ‘Isolation’ (John Lennon cover)