Trixie Mattel displays musical versatility with “Blister In The Sun” cover

Tony Madden

Drag’s sweetheart Trixie Mattel is back with another cover, paying homage to the Violent Femmes’ breakout classic “Blister In The Sun.” 

With a poppier take on the opening riff complete with double claps on the upbeat, Mattel switches the shaky indie vocals on the 1983 version for enthusiastic, ununciated ones of her own. 

A beautifully unexpected flourish of synth comes through at the halfway mark of Mattel’s cover, providing a bubblegum pop guise completely unsuspected for a song like “Blister In The Sun.”

Donned in a crossword-printed mini dress and her signature larger-than-life makeup, Mattel makes a synth-pop anthem out of the seminal classic of every folk-punk songbook. 

The latest stand-alone single is a testament to Mattel’s musical versatility; in 2020, she gave a hauntingly dreamy vocal and autoharp performance in her cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” 

Mattel has previously been known for her country aesthetic and musical stylings in her EPs “Two Birds” and “One Stone.” Those influences were met with pop and rock ones on her 2020 album “Barbara.” A native of rural Wisconsin, Mattel has long expressed a fondness for bluegrass and country ballads. 

Mattel is a rare force in the already-limited realm of musicians in popular drag. When Mattel isn’t singing her own country-crooned ballads of love and loss, she has a knack for reinventing the work of others in her covers. 

In the height of initial COVID-19 panic last spring, Mattel took to weekly “Full Coverage Friday” live streams to play acoustic covers of her favorite songs in addition to a few of her own classics. From Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” to Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” Mattel effortlessly brought new identities to our favorite songs with sharp-witted charm.

Mattel’s Violent Femmes cover brings a tuneful, queered energy to the angsty indie track of the 1980s, and it only makes me more excited for the covers in Trixie’s future. Listen to her cover of “Blister In The Sun” here: