Karen O’s contribution to the soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s acclaimed film Her, “The Moon Song,” is one of the more homemade tracks to land a Best Original Song Oscar nomination. In the context of the film, it’s just a song that two non-musicians – the characters played by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson – create as an expression of their love. “It’s wild because ‘The Moon Song’ was written and recorded in the most humble of circumstances; at my dining room table, a few paces away from the couch I read the script for Her for the first time,” the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman told Rolling Stone, while sharing her shocked reaction to her nomination.
But that wasn’t the only version she did. In this new rendition of “The Moon Song,” Karen O is joined by Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig. “I wrote the song as a duet,” Karen O explained. “I was really excited at the prospect of getting to record it with a male vocalist. Ezra was super cool and open, he slipped into character like a champ and damn he’s got the goods.”
Even while performing the track in a studio setting with producer J. Ralph, the pair manage to keep the intimacy of the stripped-down, guitar-spun original. The production is notably more polished, with piano added to the mix, and the vocals are more prominent with Karen O and Koenig switching off between lines. “Singing this song with Ezra felt like fulfilling a wish of my die-hard romantic junior high self,” Karen O continued. “It’s a dreamy tune. Spike’s Her is the gift that keeps on giving.”
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A special three-song EP of “The Moon Song” arrives this week on iTunes.