Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Avatar: The Last Airbender reaches the earnest cover song stage of its resurgence

Illustration for article titled Avatar: The Last Airbender reaches the earnest cover song stage of its resurgence
Screenshot: YouTube (Fair Use)

One of the things on the short (short, short, short) list of positive developments to come out of this hellmouth of a year is the resurgence in popularity of Nickelodeon’s marvelous Avatar: The Last Airbender. (That resurgence also extends to its sequel series, The Legend Of Korra.) The series arrived on Netflix on May 15, and its footprint in the current cultural consciousness has steadily grown since then—what was once a turtleduck is now a mighty sky bison. It’s only natural, then, that we’ve reached the endearingly unironic cover song stage of the proceedings, with this faithfully full-throated take on one of the show’s heavy hitters, courtesy of singer-songwriter Gavin Haley.


Yes, of course, we’re talking about “Secret Tunnel.”

For reference, here’s the original:

Haley’s freak folk-pop cover really works! And it’s so earnest! This is like the version of “Secret Tunnel” that would play over the end-credits of a movie version of A:TLA. (Not the movie version, just a hypothetical animated version. Don’t get any ideas, Shyamalan.)

In his notes on the YouTube video of his rendition of the song, Haley writes that he has been “watching Avatar on Netflix and fell in love with this silly song.” Frankly, he doesn’t need any other reason! It’s a fun and silly song! Good job, young sir!

That said, we’re going to use this opportunity to make an appeal, the genuineness of which should be apparent: in these troubled times, we would like to earnestly request that the members of Neutral Milk Hotel quietly reunite via Zoom to give us the most fitting cover of “Secret Tunnel” there could ever be. Seriously, scroll back up the page, give the original another listen, and then hit play on “King Of Carrot Flowers.”

Hell, let’s get a whole covers album that’s just various bands and artists doing “Secret Tunnel.” The song is so short! You know The Mountain Goats would be up for it. Maybe Janelle Monáe could be persuaded. Tinashe did a voice on the show for crying out loud. Please, someone, make it happen. Haley’s cover can be the album-opener! We could raise money for cat deer conservation or something! We need to restore balance to the world and clearly many, many covers of “Secret Tunnel” could help!


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Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves TV, bourbon, and overanalyzing social interactions. Please buy her book, How TV Can Make You Smarter (Chronicle, 2020). It’s short!