In Pick Five, great artists tell us about five cover songs that matter to them.
Speedy Ortiz’s third album Twerp Verse doesn’t come out until tomorrow, but it’s already making noise. NPR Music calls it “both musically expansive and [frontwoman Sadie] Dupuis’ most accessible work yet, a blend of catchy pop hooks and dexterous guitar playing,” while the New York Times praises the band’s “signature acerbic wit.” And it almost didn’t exist.
In late 2016, the band – that’s Dupuis plus guitarist Andy Molholt, bassist Darl Ferm, and drummer Mike Falcone – planned to record a new album full of peppy love songs. Then November 8th happened, and all of a sudden a bunch of chipper “lovey-dovey” tunes didn’t feel appropriate. That batch of songs “just didn’t mean anything to me anymore,” Dupuis wrote in the press release. “Social politics and protest have been a part of our music from day one, and I didn’t want to stop doing that on this album.”
So they went back to the proverbial drawing board and cranked out a new set of songs for what became Twerp Verse, including lead single “Lucky 88”:
Pitchfork said Dupois “tackles the heavy task of killing her idols” on that song. Luckily, she didn’t kill all of them. When we asked the band to tell us about their five favorite cover songs, they had a lot to say! So much so that the full band chipped into this week’s list. See it below.
1. The Breeders – Happiness is a Warm Gun (The Beatles cover)
“This is probably my favorite cover of all time. The chutzpah of the Breeders to do a Beatles cover (an idea done to death but amazing when well-executed), and on top of that produce a version I think I prefer to the original. When we toured with The Breeders, this was one of my favorite songs for them to do each night.” – Bassist Darl Ferm
2. Brenda Lee – Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You) (Jimmie Hodges cover)
“There have been so many awesome versions of ‘Someday (You’ll Want Me To Want You)’ since it first charted in 1946, ranging from peppy (Sam Cooke, uptempo with horns) to maudlin (Patsy Cline, posthumously, plus a sweeping string section) to adorable (The Mills Brothers’ perfect harmonies and simple acoustic guitar). My favorite iteration of this standard is Brenda Lee’s, which predates Patsy’s version, but shares its cinematic orchestration and angelic backing vocals. Brenda’s performance is cloying, defiant, desperate, and cool–perfect for the song’s resigned but eventually hopeful call to mentally ditch a bad ex-love.” – Singer Sadie Dupuis
3. INOJ – Love You Down (Ready For The World cover)
“The original from Ready For The World is among the classic quiet storm jams. A little more than a decade later, the INOJ version charted during one of the most unjustly forgotten ’90s eras – a subgenre with drums that sample Kraftwerk or used very similar beats, possibly called ‘bass music’ or ‘booty bass.’ Jermaine Dupre produced a few of the highest charting jams from this era, bookended between Ghost Town DJs’ ‘My Boo’ and KP and Envyi’s ‘Swing My Way.’ There’s definitely something distinctively ‘classic ’90s’ about a song with drums encouraging grind-dancing while innocent lyrics, playful keyboards, and simplistic vocal melody paint images of 7th graders dreaming about their crushes while they’re supposed to be workin’ on their studies.” – Drummer Mike Falcone
4. Rihanna – Same Ol’ Mistakes (Tame Impala cover)
“‘It’s literally a karaoke song,’ spoke the Twitter haters less than six hours after Anti first dropped on Tidal. Two years later, it might be the one Rihanna album track that pumps most frequently at parties, blaring from cars or at the neighbors’ backyard BBQs. This definitive version is also among the album’s most crucial decisions; sequenced after ‘Yeah I Said It,’ it’s the moment when the planets align. It’s when Anti eclipses itself and swallows the sum of its parts. Rihanna is the undefeated heavyweight world champion of not giving one single fuck. She’s aware of the critique, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if she responds by including two more 7-minute Tame Impala covers on her next record just to prove how little she cares about what anyone thinks.” – Drummer Mike Falcone
5. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Day Tripper (The Beatles cover)
“For their 1979 sophomore LP Solid State Survivor, Yellow Magic Orchestra – arguably the most influential Japanese band of all time – covered ‘Day Tripper,’ a single by the arguably most influential band of all time period. In typical YMO fashion, this track is all over the place. Drippy triplet endings to phrases that slow down for no reason, an added beat in the start of the chorus- who cares! YMO was born outside the box & lived there, ahead of their time, for their entire existence. At around the 1:15 mark, they veer into an entirely new bridge that, while having nothing in particular to do with the original ‘Day Tripper,’ functions very appropriately for this version. The track ends lingering on the phrase ‘to find out, I found out’ before launching into a chirpy synth-ed out ending chorus that finally spirals into oblivion. These are my favorite types of covers- ones that take the spirit of what made the original song great and combine it with stylistic elements that make the covering artist great. When this works, and in this version of ‘Day Tripper’ I feel it truly does, you get the best of both worlds – a true delight, especially for fans of both artists.” – Guitarist Andy Molholt