Listen to Medieval Covers of “Creep,” “Pumped Up Kicks,” “Bad Romance” & More by Hildegard von Blingin’

All ye bully-rooks with your buskin boots 

Best ye go, best ye go

Outrun my bow

All ye bully-rooks with your buskin boots

Best ye go, best ye go, faster than mine arrow

If bardcore is a thing—and trust us, it is right now—Hildegard von Blingin’ is the brightest star in its firmament.

The unknown vocalist, pure of throat, pays heed to the fascinating 12th-century abbess and composer Saint Hildegard of Bingen by choice of pseudonym, while demonstrating a similar flair for poetic language.

Von Blingin’s nimble lyrical reworking of Foster the People’s 2010 monster hit, “Pumped Up Kicks,” makes deft use of fellow bardcore practioner Cornelius Link’s copyright-free instrumental score and the closest medieval synonyms available.

For the record, Webster’s 1913 dictionary defines a “bully-rook” as a bully, but the term could also be used in a joshing, chops-busting sort of way, such as when The Merry Wives of Windsor’s innkeeper trots it out to greet lovable reprobate, Sir John Falstaff.

And as any fan of Game of Thrones or The Hunger Games can attest, an arrow can prove as lethal as a gun.

Songwriter Mark Foster told Billboard’s Xander Zellner last December that he had been thinking of retiring “Pumped Up Kicks,” as listeners are now convinced it’s a bouncy-sounding take on school shootings, rather than a more generalized attempt to get inside the head of a troubled—and fictional—youngster.

With school out of session since March, it’s an excellent time for von Blingin’ to pick up the torch and bear this song back to the past.

Ditto the timing of von Blingin’s ode to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”:

I want thine ugly, I want thy disease

Take aught from thee shall I if it can be free

No Celtic harp, wooden recorders, or adjustment of possessive pronouns can disguise the jolt those opening lyrics assume in the middle of a global pandemic.

(St. Hildegard escaped the medieval period’s best known plague, the Black Death, by virtue of having been born some 250 years before it struck.)

Von Blingin’s latest release is an extremely faithful take on Radiohead’s “Creep”, with just a few minor tweaks to pull it into medieval lyrical alignment:

Thou float’st like a feather

In a beautiful world

The comments section suggest that the peasants are eager to get in on the act.

Some are expressing their enthusiasm in approximate olde English…

Others question why smygel, eldrich, wyrden or wastrel were not pressed into service as replacements for creep and weirdo..

To borrow a phrase from one such jester, best get your requests in “before the tiktoks come for it.”

Listen to Hildegard Von Blingin’ on Sound Cloud and check out the bardcore sub-reddit for more examples of the form.

Related Content: 

Experience the Mystical Music of Hildegard Von Bingen: The First Known Composer in History (1098 – 1179)

Manuscript Reveals How Medieval Nun, Joan of Leeds, Faked Her Own Death to Escape the Convent

1200 Years of Women Composers: A Free 78-Hour Music Playlist That Takes You From Medieval Times to Now

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Help contain the plague spread with her series of free downloadable posters, encouraging citizens to wear masks in public settings. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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Comments (7)
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  • Jimmy Stephens says:

    “Ye” is pronounced “the” The“Y” was really a thorn, but typesetters had only “Y”
    DescriptionThorn or þorn is a letter in the Old English, Gothic, Old Norse, Old Swedish, and modern Icelandic alphabets, as well as some dialects of Middle English. It was also used in medieval Scandinavia, but was later replaced with the digraph th, except in Iceland, where it survives. Wikipedia
    Language of origin: Old English language; Old Norse language
    Other letters commonly used with: th, dh
    Writing system: Latin script
    Phonetic usage: /θɔːrn/
    Transliteration equivalents: Θ, th
    Development: ᚦ: Þ þ
    Descendants: ꝥ, þͤ, þͭ, þͧ, yᷤ, yͤ, yͭ

  • Ye Old Watkins says:

    These are great – especially Pumped Up Kicks. She has a great voice too :)

  • Angela says:

    Interesting versions.
    The wooden recorder worked well on Bad Romance!
    Great article, loved this bit especially, re:
    ” von Blingin’s ode to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”:

    I want thine ugly, I want thy disease

    Take aught from thee shall I if it can be free

    No Celtic harp, wooden recorders, or adjustment of possessive pronouns can disguise the jolt those opening lyrics assume in the middle of a global pandemic.”

    – indeed!

  • Claudia says:

    What a beautiful voice. Do you have more songs?

  • Todd Sherman says:

    These renditions are brilliance!

  • Savvy says:

    Not sure which I like better! The originals, or these. And “von Blingen?!” Rolling in thine floor laughing mine buttocks off. However—eek! It should be “thou and I can write a bad romance.”

  • Dave Merman says:

    Check this out:

    Who was Tristan Shoute? When did he live? Is he dead yet, or what? In the words of musicologist Winchurch Stonhill, he was “a fiddle, wrapped in a misery, inside an echidna.” Indeed, there can be found little or no factual evidence of his existence… However, as early as the 12th century, reports began to circulate of a “Tristan Showde,” a strange itinerant figure who created miraculous music wherever he appeared, on numerous instruments, both known and unknown. Even more confounding was the assertion that, upon reaching a certain age, this minstrel would disappear for a length of time, only to reappear in rejuvenated form in another era.”

    The musical mystery of Tristan Shoute is at the heart of Widdershins, the latest release by celebrated Canadian composer and multi-instrumentalist Kirk Elliott,

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