Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
1961’s Blue Hawaii marked the start of Elvis Presley’s long and painful slide down the dull razor blade of mediocrity. The movie has little plot, bland acting, and inane dialogue that sounds more suited to the romantic Anakin Skywalker (“You wanna know something – on you, wet is my favorite color”). Meanwhile, its soundtrack featured emetic material like “Rock-A-Hula Baby” and “Ito Eats.” But we’re ready to forgive all the minute we hear “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Sure, it took a few takes to get it right (give this outtake a listen if you’re in a spot where you won’t get in trouble), but you can’t deny Presley’s performance here, and it would be flat out wrong to try.
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” has been a hit in multiple incarnations, ranging from UB40 to the A-Teens. Here are five more that we can’t help – oh, you know the rest…
MP3: Lick the Tins – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
More people have heard Lick the Tins than heard of them. The name will draw a blank from 99.99% of the world – but if you ask anyone worth their weight in John Hughes DVDs what song plays Keith and Watts into the closing credits of Some Kind of Wonderful, they’ll know the band’s sound instantly. Their Celtic-folkified “Can’t Help Falling in Love” speeds up the song considerably and proves that a pennywhistle is never unwelcome.
MP3: Bart & Friends – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
Bart & Friends may not be known much in America, but in Austalia they’re considered a supergroup, led by indiepop master Bart Cummings (do yourself a favor and track down Songs for Girls to Sing by his earlier group, the Cat’s Miaow). In their hands, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is a flawless gem, with winsome vocals courtesy of Pam Berry.
MP3: Eels – Can’t Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley cover)
How good are Eels? More accurately, how good is E, a.k.a. Mark Everett? Well, this cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” appears on a collection of B-sides entitled Useless Trinkets, and its subtitle is “Alternate Version.” So it’s an offshoot within an offshoot, and yet, as Everett and his piano combine to turn a celebration of love into a lonely confession/admission, you can’t help believing, if not realizing, just how much this song matters to both the singer and his audiences – both the ones who are fortunate enough to hear the song and the one who never will.
MP3: Howe Gelb – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
Howe Gelb covered “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (and very well) on his 2001 album Confluence; this version, done on KXCI out of Tuscon (support community radio!), is a little bass-heavier, and has a couple more bum notes, but hits at a deeper level, you just see if it don’t.
MP3: Fleet Foxes Sing – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley cover)
Not to be confused with the Fleet Foxes… oh, okay – always to be confused with the Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes Sing have a history of making heavily bearded music lovers doing double-takes. We’ve talked about them before here on Cover Me, and here they are again, covering “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and showing what Elvis might have sounded like if he had changed his diet of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches to one of bugs, bark, and berries.
Just look at that face for a moment.