Lorde has taken the world by storm with her infectious hit “Royals.” Even though her debut album, Pure Heroine, won’t be released until September 30th, the 16-year-old New Zealand native has been dubbed the new queen of alternative and opened up New Zealand’s iHeartRadio festival. During her set, she pulled out this cover of Kanye West‘s “Hold My Liquor.”
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
King Crimson’s debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, is iconic. The cover, a painting of a screaming creature (reportedly the only painting ever by computer programmer Barry Godber, who passed away shortly after the album’s release at the age of 24), is instantly recognizable and unforgettable. Although it was not the first prog-rock album, In the Court raised the bar and in many ways created the road map for the successes and excesses of the style. Nearly 44 years after the album’s release, it was discussed on, of all places, a New York Mets broadcast, and not because Mets fans so often have the same look on their faces.
Crimson leader Robert Fripp has described the first song on the record, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” as the first heavy metal song. That’s a claim that’s far from settled, but the crunching riff and distorted vocals and music displayed here would in fact become mandatory in the metal songs that followed in its wake. (Still, it is amusing to think of vocalist Greg Lake as a heavy metal godfather.) But the song also has a jazzy middle section, some virtuoso guitar soloing, and a free-time ending. Lyrically, the song is typical Peter Sinfield, filled with bizarre and obscure allusions and dystopian imagery which many have related to the Vietnam War. Fripp, at least once, dedicated “21st Century Schizoid Man” to Spiro Agnew.
The song has often been covered, more often than not in a metal style. As we will see, other covers pick up on the various styles included in the original. But not always.
With the release of Yeezus, the too-easy-to-quote interview with The New York Times, and the recent birth of his daughter with Kim Kardashian, Kanye West is someone – whether you like it or not – you have heard come up in conversation as of late. Although it is too early for covers off of the rapper’s sixth solo album to start popping up, singer Fabienne takes us back to when we all started admiring (or hating) the rapper in pink polo shirts with her rendition of “Slow Jamz.”
Alt rockers Faith No More took on the amazingly successful Watch The Throne single “Niggas in Paris” at one of their recent live shows. While it might be challenging to turn a Jay-Z and Kanye West hit into a rock tune, especially at a live show, the audience seems to really enjoy how much fun lead singer Mike Patton seems to have giving the song a darker edge.
Oberhofer‘s cover of Kanye West‘s douchebag anthem “Runaway” is not something new; Cover Me first saw the rough acoustic rendition almost a year ago along with a slew of other covers of the single. For Record Store Day, Oberhofer gave the cover a formal release and executed it in a spacy, rock context.
Last we checked in with Portland Cello Project, they were getting their hip-hop on with Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” They’ve now continued the trend, but mixed a little Jigga into the mix with their new cover of Jay-Z and Kanye’s collab “H.A.M.” It adds flutes, brass, and crashing percussion to the classical-gone-crunk blend.