Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
The television show Friends debuted on September 22, 1994. Twenty-five years later, the memorable theme song with its iconic four claps is still an adulting anthem. Could the song be any more catchy?
Friends enjoyed ten seasons of popularity and collected over 60 Emmy nominations throughout the course of its run. Netflix viewers are currently wailing and gnashing teeth, as the show is slated to leave the platform in 2020, bringing to an end its five-year reign as one of Netflix’s most streamed shows. Whether you relate more to Chandler, Joey, Monica, Phoebe, Rachel, or (heaven forbid) Ross, we can all unite in appreciation of the life lessons and hearty laughs that the show has brought us.
The Rembrandts, made up of Danny Wilde and Phil Solem, formed in 1989. Prior to teaming up as The Rembrandts, Wilde had worked on solo albums, and the two of them had collaborated in another group, Great Buildings. Their new band released two albums and had minor success before “I’ll Be There For You” kicked off their third, and Friends brought them into the spotlight. The song started as a minute-long theme, but the duo later re-recorded and expanded it into a full length song.
From mellow to punk, these five covers are here for you “when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.”
Stimilion – I’ll Be There For You (The Rembrandts cover)
We’ll start out with a cover of the full length version of the song. Stimilion was a punk rock band that often supported other bands in the same genre, most notably Blink-182. They disbanded in 2004, a year after the final season of Friends aired. This cover changes up the key a bit, making their verses a little harsher and more dissonant than the original. However, the chorus returns to the song’s roots, and the sentiment of support is sincere, even in a heavier rock interpretation.
Collabro – I’ll Be There For You (The Rembrandts cover)
Collabro is a British group who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. They are a musical theater group, auditioning for the show by singing Les Misérables’ “Stars.” They knew their place in the sky. No stranger to covers, the albums they released after winning the show are made up almost completely of covers from musical theater classics and crossovers to the pop world. Contrasting the last cover, this version focuses more on the vocals and sticks to the shortened version of the song. The group shows off its harmonizing ability, softly accompanied by simple piano and a few strings. The pace slows, the phrasing unhurried.
Maisie Peters – I’ll Be There For You (The Rembrandts cover)
Maisie Peters is also a British performer, her large following on YouTube propelling her into the spotlight. This is another mellow cover accompanied by only a piano. Peters’ unique voice brings a warmth to the song. She is unafraid to adapt the melody a bit and sneak in some high notes. The song builds in emotional intensity – “No one could ever know me / No one could ever see me” – before softening again towards the end. You can tell that Peters really feels the lyrics, and her cover establishes the song beyond its reputation as a catchy, jingle-like theme song.
Connie Talbot – I’ll Be There For You (The Rembrandts cover)
Another Britain’s Got Talent alum (she made it to the finals in the original season), gives a cover a shot, despite (like Maisie Peters) being only five years old when Friends first aired. This cover is acoustic yet upbeat, featuring both a guitar and banjo. Talbot’s voice is clear and strong, making it clear that she is someone we can count on to be there for us when the rain starts to pour.
Andrew Huang feat. Hank Green and Rob Scallon – I’ll Be There For You (The Rembrandts cover)
We have to have a cover version that acknowledges the angst that viewers may have as they use Friends to fill a void. Punk is clearly the perfect genre. Andrew Huang is a producer from Toronto who has a large YouTube following. Huang and various collaborators cover this song in a wide variety of genres. Another favorite of mine is their “old school rap” version. This short cover packs a punch, starting off with an electric guitar lick and an accusatory delivery of “no one told you life was gonna be this way.” When you just need to rock out while feeling nostalgic, sing along and add your own claps.