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Posts Tagged ‘cover songs’

QOD: under cover

[The latest at Not Pitchfork: Fear, Love and Rockets and The Kinks]

I’ve been playing an afternoon music game with my new twitter friend John. When I get home from work, I usually make a tweet saying what I listened to on my way home, with a link to the video. John usually responds with a song related to mine, and we go back and forth for while, building off each other’s selections, until it gets close to dinner time and one of us declares the other the winner for the day.

Yesterday, John won big time. We were doing cover songs and I thought I found the most ultimate cover, with Yo La Tengo doing the Angry Samoans. Then John shot back YLT doing the New York Mets theme song and, well, game over.

Of course, this got me thinking once again about cover songs. Not the usual suspects of cover songs, but some of the weirder variety.

Hellacopters doing Skynyrd’s Working for MCA
Faith No More doing Herb Albert’s This Guy’s in Love With You
Rammstein doing Depeche Mode’s Stripped
Ben Folds doing Dre’s Bitches Ain’t Shit
Devo doing Neil Young’s Ohio
Fat Boys doing the Beatles’ Baby You’re a Rich Man
Atreyu rocking out Bon Jovi’s You Give Love a Bad Name
Flaming Lips doing White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army
In Flames awesomely covering one of my favorite Depeche Mode songs, Everything Counts
The Residents doing Elvis’s Teddy Bear
The Avengers doing the Stones’ Paint it Black
The Stranglers doing Dionne Warwick’s Walk on By
The Dickies making Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin sound interesting
Dead Kennedys doing Rawhide

And the ultimate in cover song medleys: Circle Jerks’ Golden Shower of Hits

I could do this forever, but I don’t have forever. So what are your favorite, maybe lesser known, cover versions?

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I said I would do my Best Cover Songs list, so here we go.

This is another list where I went and checked what RetroCrush had. I agree with a lot of their choices, but there are a few on there that would definitely be on my WORST list.

While reading that list, I realized that this has been done a million times before. I’m sure I’ve done it at least twice in various incarnations of my blogs. So this time around, I’m going to pick some covers that don’t often appear on other people’s lists. There are a few familiar ones in here, but most of them are ones that I might not have talked about before.

QOTSA – Never Say Never (Romeo Void)
Well, we all know my obsession with QOTSA. They do a lot of fine covers (The Kinks Next in Line, Turbonegro’s Dungaree High) but this one is sublime. They take the 80’s cheese right out of the song and add a layer of decadence to it.

Hellacopters – Working For MCA (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
I do love the original, but the Hellacopters give this more of a raw edge.

Vanilla Fudge – You Keep Me Hanging On (Supremes)
I talked about this one here.

Faith No More – This Guys’s In Love With You (Herb Alpert)
Most people who put a Faith No More song on their cover list pick Easy. While that’s a great cover, this is the one that blows me away. Mike Patton gets to live out his obvious dream of being a lounge singer here.

Goldfinger – Rio (Duran Duran)
Simply for the part at the end where he sings “His name is Dio….Ronnie James Dio….”

Anthrax – Got the Time (Joe Jackson)
Love the original, but Anthrax speeds this up enough so that you feel almost manic trying to sing it.

Richard Cheese – Down With The Sickness (Disturbed)
I’m a big fan of Mr. Cheese. Choosing a song by him for this list is kind of like choosing something by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (which I have a general rule against); all they do is covers. But I’ve let my rules go for this one. I do that sometimes. Of all the Richard Cheese covers I adore, this song is my favorite for the sincerity in which he lounge-sings the line you fucker get up, come on get down with the sickness. Also, the use of this tune in the remake of Dawn of the Dead was probably the best placement of a song in a movie, EVER.

NSFW

Gypsy Kings – Hotel California (Eagles)
Two words: Big Lebowski

Dead Kennedys – Viva Las Vegas (Elvis)
Jello doing Elvis is delicious.

Lovage – Sex (I’m A…) (Berlin)
If you have never heard the Lovage album Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By, go buy it/download it NOW. I’m not one for having music on while gettin’ horizontal, but whenever someone asks that ubiquitous question “What’s the best music to fuck to?” I always answer with this album. Their rendition of “Sex” will leave you breathless.

Quicksand – How Soon is Now (The Smiths)
I think there are a million covers of this song. I used to collect them. This one is my favorite version. It’s got a metal feel to it, but they still keep the emo-drama of the original. Don’t even bring up that Snake River Conspiracy cover of this. I hate it.

Filter – One (Three Dog Night)
They manage to take a song that, as a kid, made me feel sad and lonely and make it even more morose and depressing. Good job.

Deftones – The Chauffeur (Duran Duran)
It’s sexy, it’s dark and I like it better than the original.

Rammstein – Stripped (Depeche Mode)
Talk about making a song your own. While they keep the music mostly intact, the German accent and deep voice gives this one a darkness and evilness that was not present in the DM version, yet at the same time, it comes out sounding almost absurd.. I love Rammstein.

Supersuckers – Get It On (Turbonegro)
Two great tastes together at last. If you don’t know either of these bands, try them out.

Slayer – Guilty of Being White/Filler/I Don’t Want to Hear It (Minor Threat)
Most Slayer fans hate the album Undisputed Attitude, in which they cover 80’s hardcore punk songs. I love Slayer and I love hardcore punk, so maybe that’s why I kind of enjoyed this album. And when one of your favorite bands covers another of you favorite bands, that makes it even better. Hearing Slayer do Minor Threat makes me smile.

And there you have it. All I have time for right now. Share your favorite cover songs and maybe I’ll come back later and give a list of more popular cover tunes that I like.

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If you know me, you know I love lists. I love them so much I make lists of my lists.

I received not one, not two but three!! links to lists yesterday from people who like to feed my obsession. One is the new AFI 100 greatest movies, one is the RetroCrush worst covers songs list, and one is some list of annoying songs voted on by British people, meaning I have no clue what some of those songs are. But the number one song was James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, so I’ll just put that list aside as “things some Brits and I agree on.”

Now, I’ve written about cover songs a billion times on both ASV and FTTW. But it’s a timeless subject, one that changes and evolves each time someone puts up their own take on the matter. What are lists for if not to disagree with?

I started scrolling through the RetroCrush list and immediately saw that I would have to dismiss half of their choices, as my rule for debating cover songs is “no novelty tunes.” By novelty, I mean anything sung by someone whose day job involves pretending to work on a spaceship. I’m looking at you, William Shatner. And your buddy Nimoy, too. This means I also dismiss anything done by actors or actresses who don’t normally sing for a living.

So I read through the list again, ignoring Bill Cosby and Burt Ward.

I ran into trouble at #78. Vanilla Fudge’s cover of the Supremes’ You Keep Me Hanging On. Whenever I’ve done a list of favorite cover songs, this one appeared on it. In my eyes (or ears), this tune represents what a cover song should be about; taking someone else’s song and making it your own. Otherwise, what’s the point of covering it? Take the Lemonheads cover of Mrs. Robinson, for instance. They did nothing different with it. Why bother? If you are going to use someone else’s material, whether in tribute or jest, you need to leave your own personal mark on it otherwise you give me no reason to listen to it.

Vanilla Fudge took this song and ran with it. They changed the sound, the pace, the entire essence of the song. The took a pop hit best heard at parties and turned it into an emotional, heavy song best heard while laying on your bed with your headphones on, wallowing in misery and engulfed in a cloud of bong smoke. I’m not saying that’s a good thing for everyone, but it certainly set the standard, for me, for what a cover song should do.

Time to scroll the list again. I have no problem with the rest of the first page (I had no idea Winger covered Purple Haze and I am not going to make any effort to hear it).

Let’s add a new rule to perusing cover songs lists: American Idol renditions of tunes do not count. Just on general principal.

At #37, we come upon Ugly Kid’s Joe version of Cats in the Cradle, which happens to be my most hated song next to Paradise By The Dashboard Light, so I’m going to say that it sucks no matter what. Plus, it’s Ugly Kid Joe. It has to be bad by default. I could go into a whole rant here about depressing, overwrought songs, but I’ll save that for another day.

#28. Blue Monday by Orgy. Now, I love New Order. I love Blue Monday, if not for the song itself, but for the good times memories associated with it. And I like this cover. Then again, I’m one of the 12 people on earth who loved that whole Orgy album, so I may not be the best judge of this.

As I’m scrolling down, I’m wondering what the number one song is going to be and I’m crossing my fingers that the fine folks at RetroCrush and I agree on the worst abomination of someone else’s song in existence. We’ll see.

#19: Kidz Bop songs should not count. Otherwise, we could take their whole catalog, print it out and call the list done.

#18, The Cure’s Love Song by 311. I used to love this band. What the hell happened to them? The first time I heard this cover I nearly cried, both for what they did to a great tune and for the apparent demise of what used to be a pretty cool band.

There’s a lot of Celine Dion songs on this list. But she’s Canadian, so she doesn’t count. I’ve been musically mad at Canada every since Bryan Adams.

#4 Brings us to what I was hoping to be number one. Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit. Granted, I hate this band and I loathe Fred Durst so I may be biased, but seriously. Durst either has huge balls or suffers from delusions of grandeur for even attempting to cover this one. And I’m pretty sure he has no balls.

And here is the number one worst cover song at RetroCrush:

Layla, as covered by……Eric Clapton?

Really, guys. How can you put this on the list at all, let alone at the top spot? I’m not a huge Eric Clapton fan and I’ve been sick of Layla since Steve Malone played it 16 times in a row on a road trip and we finally had to rip the cassette out of the deck and throw it out the window on the Jersey Turnpike, but cut the guy a break. It’s his song and he can do what he wants with it, no matter how much of a trainwreck it turns out to be. YOU CAN’T COVER YOUR OWN SONGS. You can rework them, remix them, give them a whole new feel, but I don’t think, in the true definition of cover songs, that you can take an artist’s new version of his own song and put it on this list.

Maybe I’m just disappointed Behind Blue Eyes wasn’t first.

My short list of songs that are missing from that list:

Guns N Roses – Live and Let Die
Mick Jagger and David Bowie – Dancing in the Streets
Billy Idol – LA Woman
Scissor Sisters -Comfortably Numb
Guns N Roses – Knockin On Heaven’s Door
No Doubt – It’s My Life
Motley Crue – Anarchy in the UK
Twisted Sister – Leader of the Pack
Those three hobags that did Lady Marmalade
Elvis Presley – In the Ghetto (I didn’t even know this was a cover song. I’m glad it is so I can put it on this list because that is one of the most godawful songs in the history of music)

I’ll try to tackle the AFI greatest films list later, if I get a break from renovation stuff. And I’ll do a “best cover songs” list later in the week.

Meanwhile, because I can’t resist posting it again, the worst cover song ever by an unknown band.

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Through Ilyka Damen, I found a post over at Pandagon in which they were looking for bad covers of good pop songs. Don’t know if this qualifies (many will argue about the original being either good or a pop song), but it is absolutely the worst cover of a rock song ever by an unknown band. So bad, in a trainwreck kind of way. So bad that you will watch it over and over again and later on think, that just might be the greatest bad thing I have ever seen.

You just can’t turn away, can you?

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