While covers of any song are a welcome departure from the norm, remakes of popular radio hits in particular can often be the most refreshing. Take, for instance, Portland-based indie duo White Hinterland’s trippy rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” Released in July 2010 off Perry’s vastly successful album of the same name, “Teenage Dream” quickly became yet another oft-played number-one single for the pop star. While the rest of the world has moved way past “Teenage Dream” to Perry’s latest chart-topping hit, “The One That Got Away,” White Hinterland revisited the track at a Daytrotter session.
Back in September, we posted a shaky live cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” by the Horrible Crowes, the new project by the Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon and guitar tech Ian Perkins. Now, they’ve covered Perry’s song live at WFUV radio in New York, and listeners can get a way better idea of how well these guys rock Perry’s pop tune. While it may seem like a strange choice for the band, Fallon hits every note in Perry’s tune with such effortless charisma that listeners are bound to ask for more genre crossing covers from the Crowes in the future.
The music press (or at least the band’s publicists) tout the Rescues as an “indie supergroup.” Bands with major label contracts and five songs featured on Grey’s Anatomy are considered indie? And bands that don’t have any particularly famous members are now “supergroups”? What is the world coming to?
Regardless of the labels foisted on them, the Rescues are a talented group of musicians. The band’s four-part harmonies remind the listener of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Rescues use these harmonies to great effect on their cover of Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream,” recorded live in studio, though it appears it took four and a half takes to do it. The Rescues’ version ebbs and flows with a near-a cappella bridge and symphonic drum fills. It’s fun watching Rob Giles switch from drums to guitar and back again, without screwing up the vocals.
It’s Darwin Deez week on Cover Me! A few days ago, we heard him cover the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Scar Tissue.” Now he’s back, but the group’s moved from Australia to Lincolnshire, England for the BBC’s Live Lounge college tour at Lincoln University. Deez also played a solo two song set that included a “secret cover.”
The DJs asked why Deez chose Katy Perry‘s “Teenage Dream” as the cover (whoops, secret’s out). He told them he admired the songwriters, Dr. Luke and Max Martin—hit-writers for *NSYNC, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Pink and others. Interestingly, it wasn’t their songs he admired, but their methods. Dr. Luke and Max Martin write songs in groups of four or five, whereas Deez writes his material without collaborators. One of the DJs commented that Deez wrote songs with heart while Dr. Luke and Max Martin wrote songs with computers. It was a nice compliment. Or a subtle dig. Hard to tell.
As we continue to mourn Leonard Cohen, here’s one little gem his death has dug up. Earlier this year, Bruce Springsteen made a point of paying tribute to artists we lost on stage. He covered “Rebel Rebel” for David Bowie, “Take It Easy” for The Eagles’ Glenn Frey, “Dream Baby Dream” for Suicide’s Alan Vega, and “Purple Rain” for Prince. And were he on tour, he’d surely sing something by Leonard Cohen (I bet he’d do a great “Everybody Knows”).
But he’s not on tour, so instead check out the one time he did cover Cohen: way back in 1967, years before the E Street Band. He was only 18 and playing in a local New Jersey band The Castiles. Somehow he got onto Leonard early – before Cohen had even released his own version of “Suzanne,” Bruce was covering it. He probably learned it off the Judy Collins version, which came out the year before Cohen’s own.
Few bands have received greater acclaim and yet been so spectacularly unsuccessful as Big Star. Led by the early ’60s Britpop-obsessed Alex Chilton, the band released three albums in the early ’70s of genius powerpop. The albums sold poorly, to say the least, and the band broke up. Rediscovered and cited as a key influence by bands such as R.E.M., Teenage Fanclub, The Posies and The Replacements, their influence only continued to rise. Tragically, last year’s untimely death of Alex Chilton may have put the band permanently on ice.