Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cover me ... there's some weird shit in here

In popular music, a cover version, or simply cover, is a new rendition (performance or recording) of a previously recorded, commercially released song...
Cover songs, in my opinion, should only be done if the artist is creative enough to maintain the integrity of the original but improve upon it. Most attempts are copy cat or diabolically atrocious. Case in point is the reason I am writing about this today.  I stumbled upon a Jonas Brothers' attempt at Aha's 'Take on Me." Really Joe, Kevin and Nick? I'm sure your fan base adore the invitation. Don't you love how the instrument playing brothers really rock out. Wooooo! Thrash that perfectly coiffed hair, boys.

Some covers outshine the original.  The artists own it like they wrote it. The following examples are such endeavors. Naturally, this is just my opinion, but if you disagree I would appreciate you just shut yer pie hole.  Oh, I will fight you ...

Katie Melua covers "Just Like Heaven" original by The Cure (yes, Rupe. You get a gold star for sharing this one.)
Johnny Cash covers "Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails
The Holmes Brothers cover "I Want You To Want Me" original by Cheaptrick (thank you, Doug, for bringing this one to my attention recently.)
Jeff Buckley covers "Hallelujah" original by Leonard Cohen
Jimi Hendrix covers "Hard Days Night" original by the Beatles
Cyndi Lauper covers "Drove All Night" original by Roy Orbison
Adam Lambert's take on Gary Jules cover of "Mad World" originally by Tears For Fears
Willis covers "Word Up!" original by Cameo

While there are many remakes out there that are great, there is a vast number that are just horrid or plain freaktacularly weird renditions.
This one, for example, is not amongst the greats. It's ... strange.

Northern Kings have a truly scandalous version of "Don't Stop Believing" -- I don't recommend any hard core Journey or Steve Perry fans listen. Oh, bloody hell! Even if you've only heard the song once in your lifetime this version will have you reaching for a sharp instrument to jam into your earholes and follow with a dousing of isopropanol alcohol. It's as if Trans Siberian Orchestra and Queensryche had a late in life baby.

There are dozens of lists out there compiling the best and the worst, but I want your opinions. So, now it's your turn.  What's your favorite cover tune? Which ones made your skin crawl from the very first chord? (I'm looking at you, Madonna -- "American Pie" needn't ever be covered, bitch!)  I ask that you comment and leave links to your selections when possible.

UPDATE! My quest never ends to find the most shitarific covers known to man.  You must click the upcoming link and give a listen. I promise if you're looking for a means of choking up that hedonistic platter of food you had for lunch, this'll do the trick. 


  1. Good McGordness, that Northern Kings version is craptastic. *shudder*

    You've hit upon a lovely subject with Rupe. Musicologist that I (believe I) am, I've forever been intrigued with the cover version. Oft times, the more monkey business involved, the better.

    You want to explore a slew of covers of all the same song? There's no better place to start than with "Fever" by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell, originally recorded by Little Willie John. While Peggy Lee's version is probably far and away the most popular, others by Tom Jones, Elvis, Joe Cocker, The Simpsons, Nina Hagen, Diana Krall, Dick Dale, The McCoys and The Cramps (*swoon*) are equally note-worthy.

    Speaking of The Cramps: Talk about a band who covered songs. Half their repertoire is cover versions of garage bands, "Z" sides and obscura that leaves me personally smiling each and every time. (Rest well, Lux.)

    Outstanding versions of another excellent band I love dearly, XTC, may be found on their "A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs Of XTC", a cover project so irresistible, XTC themselves felt the need to hide within their own selves as Terry And The Lovemen and contribute a track ("The Good Things"), making the album a true testimonial.

    I could go on and on and on. But I would be remiss in not mentioning the following for the benefit of all ... an excellent cover in it's very own right:

    Nice post. And thank you kindly for the nod.

    ............. Ruprecht

  2. Stupid moon! Copy and paste the link I provided above. Enjoy .....

  3. I commented earlier, but I do not see the comment here so I will try again. I think that the Jeff Buckley version of Hallelujah is amazing. One of my favorite covers is Joan Jett's version of Tommy James and the Shondells, "Crimson and Clover."

  4. Molly, that is a dang-diddily good version. Thanks for contributing.

    Rupe, you're evil. Under all that hair and wealth of knowledge, you're evil.

  5. OK, I like me some hard rock/heavy metal, but the Northern Kings really kinda suck. At least, those two cover tunes do. Jeez.

    One of my all time favorite cover tunes is Cheap Trick doing "Don't Be Cruel." ( Also, check out Dwight Yoakam's version of "Suspicious Minds." ( Killer songs.

    And I have to agree that Johnny Cash doing "Hurt" was pure genius, and I love Cyndi Lauper's "Drive All Night."

  6. Without a doubt the absolute worst cover i have ever heard is one of three by Eilert Pilarm: Either 'That's All Right Mama', 'All Shook Up', or Jailhouse Rock', the latter of which can be found on Grooveshark. You will wet your pants while covering your ears. I kid you not.

  7. Tori Amos did some stellar covers, her version of DM's 'Enjoy The Silence' and The Cure's 'Lovesong' were particularly lovely. The Laura Effect also did a Germanic electro version of 'In Between Days' which was good. In fact, Tori did a whole album of covers, Strange Little Girls, which covered The Stranglers "Strange Little Girl", and even a very nice version of The Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays". Dwight Yoakam did a couple of cover albums, one with such delights as Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and another album called Under The Covers which had a brilliant - and I do mean SWINGIN' - version of The Kinks' "Tired Of Waiting For You".

  8. Actually Dwight had some seriously inspired covers. He took Sonny & Cher's 'Baby Don't Go' and sang t with Sheryl Crow, and improved upon the original by at least 1000%.

  9. Brad Paisley did a brilliant version of 'Sharp Dressed Man', and Kenny Chesney's version of 'Tush' was worth a listen too.

  10. Madness - 'It Must Be Love' (original was Labi Siffre)
    Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
    Kate Bush (phwooaarr!) - Rocket Man
    Soft Cell - Tainted Love (original by Gloria Jones)
    The Clash - Police And Thieves
    Johnny Cash - Rusty Cage
    Johnny Cash - Personal Jesus
    This Mortal Coil - Song To The Siren (orig. Tim Buckley)
    Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2 U
    The Specials - A Message To You Rudy
    Deftones - The Chauffeur
    Aretha Franklin - Respect (original by Otis Redding)
    Patti Smith - Gloria
    Ken Boothe - Everything I Own
    Siouxsie And The Banshees - Dear Prudence
    Pet Shop Boys - Always On My Mind
    White Stripes - I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
    Cowboy Junkies - Sweet Jane
    Rod Stewart - Reason To Believe
    Pixies - Winterlong
    Saint Etienne - Only love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young)
    Scissor Sisters - Comfortably Numb
    Elvis Presley - Hound Dog (Big Mama Thornton)
    The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man
    The English Beat - Tears Of A Clown
    Devo - Satisfaction (I Can't Get No)
    Flying Lizards - Money
    Flying Burrito Brothers - Wild Horses
    Talking Heads - Take Me To The River
    Nina Simone - Mr. Bojangles
    Bryan Ferry - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
    Robert Wyatt - I'm A Believer
    The Who - Summertime Blues
    Rachid Taha - Rock el Casbah
    Aztec Camera - Jump
    The Sensational Alex Harvey Band - Delilah
    Tom Waits - Someone Somewhere (from West Side Story)
    The Pogues - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda
    Beatles - Twist & Shout AND Please Mr. Postman
    Billy Bragg - She's Leaving Home
    Cracker - Rainy Days And Mondays
    Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide
    Sonic Youth - Superstar
    Camper Van Beethoven - Pictures Of Matchstick Men
    Japan - I Second That Emotion
    Grace Jones - Private life
    Pretenders - Stop Your Sobbing
    Husker Du - Eight miles High
    Doors - Alabama Song
    After the Fire - Der Kommissar
    White Stripes - Jolene

    I'll probably think of more.

  11. Hands down I have the most knowledgeable musicologists as friends!
    This f'ing rocks!

  12. WoW! I love all of these on here. I love thinking about The Cramps.

  13. Covers. This is a very tricky, individual topic. What one person can think is a genius recreation, another will find a bastardization of something that can't possibly be improved on.

    And music is so personal... no one's wrong with what they like.

    You asked-- so I'm gonna be honest. I loathe most covers. That said, the Detroit Cobras are one of my favourite bands on the planet... and they do almost entirely cover songs (old Blues B-sides that are punked and funked up, but covers, regardless). Hypocritical? You betcha.

    Absolute Favourite Cover-
    (and this is saying a lot because I WORSHIP Ronnie)

    Least Favourite Cover- That Katie Lady covering the Cure you posted here. I'm sorry, there's a time and place for Mazzy Star wannabes, but whoa. If you like acoustic performances, I implore you to come here:
    She has a lovely voice, but this is one of those songs that I just don't think can be made better. I am prepared for you to tell me I'm wrong and a serious arm-wrestling match to ensue.

    And oh yes, Pete Yorn. While he is so visually fetching, his Smiths cover of "Panic" causes my ears to bleed. But you're hearing from someone who would like to drown Dave Matthews in gasoline and finds most acoustic music to be unforgivably heinous. Different Strokes and all that...

    And then there's bands who alternately hit and miss:
    No Doubt covering Talk Talk's "It's My Life"= blasphemous crap. Pretty Gwen removes the haunting original synthesizers and performs the same song without Mark Hollis' beautiful voice.
    No Doubt covering the Beatles "Ob La Di"= The little OC band returns to it's ska roots and make a classic a fun romp of their own.

    I applaud you for writing about this topic. I could pontificate for hours and bore you to tears. It's fascinating to hear what other people think... and I'm still waiting to hear your honest thoughts on Revco channeling Rod. Ha ha.

  14. I'm not a CURE purist. For me, they are nifty, but it doesn't pain me if someone covers one of their tunes. The Smiths and the Cure weren't really in my radar when they were at the height of their hoopla.

    I think "Do You Think I'm Sexy" is sort of a sucky song to start out with. So, Revco really improves upon it. Maybe hearing it without the video would help.

  15. Lydia:

    Rupe's right there with you with the No Doubt (earbleed) version of "It's My Life". Every time it comes on, I flick it off. And, if I cannot, I cover my ears and yell "Lalalalalalalalalalala".

    After reviewing all the responses, this only goes to show: Cover opinions are like our butts - (just about) everyone's got one.


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