Sunday, March 27, 2011

Awesomely good cover songs...

Warning:  Nerd Alert.

I love a good cover song...but not the ones that are carbon copies of the original.  I like it when the covering artist makes an effort to take a great song and make it their own.

Here are some examples of cover songs that just make me want to listen to the original:
  • Shinedown's version of "Simple Man" - it's good, but not so different than the original that I see it as a separate piece of music
  • Kid Rock's "Feel like making love" - why even bother...and don't get me started on that horrible "Werewolves of London" rip-off, "All summer long"
  • Britney Spears' "I love Rock 'n Roll" - OMG.  I have to admit I recently watched the movie "Crossroads."    I'm not sure why I spent 2 hours of my life on it, nor am I sure why I was surprised that it really was as bad as the rest of the world said it was.
  • Any cover by a tribute band - they're more into mimicry than musicality.  Just my opinion.
Now let's talk about my favorite awesomely good covers.  They're not in any particular order...

  • Jem's "Yellow" - just her and a piano, no fancy riffs or flashy guitar solos...
  • Nickel Creek's "Toxic" - I freaking love Nickel Creek!  They can do no wrong, so far, and this is a great example...the mandolin and violin make you forget all about the fact that you're listening to a Britney Spears song.  Turns out the song's not so bad when it's not covered up by synthesized music...
  • Lissie's "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga is playing the game to become famous - I can appreciate it and I'm a fan. The most outrageous outfit and character often win the most awards and accolades, so she's playing the part and it's working.  When you strip away the meat dresses and wigs, she's a really good singer named Stefani Germanotta, but she won't let the world see that for now.  
  • Johnny Cash's "Hurt" - When Trent Reznor heard this version, he had this to say:  “...Immediately my throat had a lump in it, and at that point, it really struck home. It was heartbreaking. I had goosebumps, which I have right now even thinking about it. It became really inspiring to me.… It works. And it probably works better than my version.… I haven’t listened to my version since then.”  (Green Oasis)  This version is so raw and emotional - the dramatic crescendos make my heart race. 
  • David Cook's "Billie Jean" - I know, I know...he's from American Idol, so he must not be good.  That is incorrect.   He showed during the competition that he didn't want to just come out and sing a song that went with the theme for the week, like Motown or 80's - he is an artist, and he came up with his own arrangements for some of the songs he performed.  "Billie Jean" was my favorite of his - it is as dramatic as the story played out in the song, and it is love:
  • Young at Heart Chorus' version of "Fix You" - If you haven't seen the documentary that tells the story of a Massachusetts chorus for senior citizens, you must watch it!  The director, Bob Cilman, has so much patience with these singers - he always ends up making beautiful music, even if the journey to that final show made him go a little more gray every day.  The documentary follows some highs and lows, and deals with the inevitable loss that goes with managing a group of senior citizens.  The group performs a heart-wrenching version of "Fix You" that comes after a few very emotional scenes, and I couldn't help but be moved by it.  Out of context it may seem odd, but you can watch it here (the hissing sound is the singer's oxygen tank)
  • Last, but not least:  Adele's "Lovesong" - I just downloaded Adele's album and I love it!  She has such a soulful voice.  I love her stripped-down version of the Cure's "Lovesong."  It has a slow, Latin vibe to me and is beautiful:

Honorable mentions are 311's version of "Lovesong" and David Cook's "Eleanor Rigby."

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