Jul 312015
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

babyheadphones

When it comes to parenting, there are really only two rules you need to follow:

1) Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

2) Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to listen to bad music.

I’m sure there’s something else in there about head injuries and not touching the stove, but I don’t have kids so that’s not really my area of expertise.
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Jul 302015
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

JJ-001-Web

It is easy to understand how someone could find a pre-school appropriate cover of “Big Pimpin” musically lacking. By stripping all lyrical content from hip-hop and infusing a heavy dose of xylophone, artistic value becomes shaky. While this style of cover might fit well in a high school talent show, superficially they offer little more than a tight chuckle and warrant slightly more than a participatory prize.

So, why are these covers being defended?
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Dec 022014
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much-maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

Defense? I never knew Linda Ronstadt was under attack. OK, not true, I’ve known she tends to get many a sneery put-down from “real” musos, dissing both her voice and her choices of material, citing that “real” artists have way more credibility (and way fewer sales.) Beautiful but soulless, they call her and her voice, short on originality and innovation. A famous early putdown was around her being merely a competent backing singer, the irony being that ability potentially defines far greater technique than the relative ease of a solo performance, as those who have sung with her (Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and legions more) have been more than happy to testify. I guess it stems down to generalizations around any successful artist, particularly if blessed also with photogenicity and famous boyfriends.
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Sep 112013
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much-maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

News flash: Dexys Midnight Runners are more than just “Come On Eileen.” However, Kevin Rowland’s adenoidal voice and over-the-top emotion are not for everyone. Not only that, Rowland’s behavior and strange decisions definitely hindered the band’s popularity. With that in mind, we embark on a defense of the band that released some great music during their brief (if recently revived) career. If you are a Dexys skeptic, or are unaware of their output beyond “Eileen” – and let’s face it, that’s most of the world – maybe this selection of their covers will convince you to dig a little deeper into their catalogue.
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Jun 072012
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

The tribute band. That staple of wedding receptions and all major birthday celebrations for those over 40. It’s hard to shake those memories of inebriated uncles dancing with drunken abandon to Guns N’ Roses songs being sung by an overweight, middle-aged, behandkerchiefed man who has yet to give up on his dreams of rock stardom. Or perhaps your mom is inspired to show everyone that she’s “still got it” by getting low to the Would-Bee Gees. Or maybe aged Auntie Brenda is making use of that new hip replacement by shaking it to “Twist and Shout.” The list of humiliations goes on. In fact, it sometimes seems that the psychological trauma inflicted on us at such events is so great that you could never embrace watching a tribute band as an enjoyable experience. You could never call it “fun.”

Well, that word never is exactly where you are wrong. Continue reading »

May 082012
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “Was it really as bad as all that?”

It is in no way difficult to see why you might find bluegrass covers of non-bluegrass songs completely musically offensive. Let’s put it out there: it’s no secret that if you sit there and knock out a pop classic on a banjo and fiddle, you are not asking to be taken seriously. For the most part, bluegrass covers exist simply for their novelty value. Continue reading »

Mar 182011
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist or album and asks, “was it really as bad as all that?”


When the Watchmen movie came out in March 2009, my primary job consisted of owning and operating a comic book store. Because that film is based on one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time, the few weeks that followed its release saw me inundated with complaints about its content. The number one gripe: an overabundance of Dr. Manhattan’s junk. Number two: “Why did they play that corny ‘Hallelujah’ cover during the sex scene?”

As anyone familiar with that scene can attest, of course, Watchmen — in keeping with its mostly retro soundtrack — employed the original Leonard Cohen track from 1984’s Various Positions. In fact, that instance marks one of the only major uses of the original recording in a mass-media production. Thanks to Shrek, The O.C., X Factor and a host of others, though, the song’s become inescapable via its many covers. Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang and more have all had their say on this one. In a 2009 interview with Jian Ghomeshi of The Guardian, Cohen revealed that he’d felt sympathy for a review of Watchmen which asked for a moratorium of “Hallelujah” in popular culture. Quoth Cohen: “I think it’s a good song, but I think too many people sing it.” Continue reading »

Mar 092011
 

In Defense takes a second look at a much maligned cover artist, album, or trend and asks, “Is it really as bad as all that?”

Disclaimer: This won’t be a strong defense of any particular American Idol artist. Let’s face it, the show has produced some music that’s utterly indefensible. You won’t catch me rocking out to Clay Aiken in the car anytime soon, mostly because “Invisible” is the creepiest song ever written. But a lot of music fans are quick to dismiss Idol as the lower common denominator of pop culture (an award properly given to the truly meritless Bridalplasty), when the series possesses several redeeming qualities. Chief among them: the ability to surprise audiences with the appearance of a knockout cover bobbing in a sea of dreary copycat performances. Continue reading »