Stepping outside of comfort zones is an interesting test for musicians. Do they only do one thing well or can they sound authentic when they move into other genres? CMT Crossroads recently paired Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry for a set of each other’s songs and a couple of covers. It may look like a battle of the lightweights, but Musgraves revealed a relaxed stage presence and effortless, clear vocals while Perry’s voice sounded forced, at times, and she seemed to be trying a little too hard, at least on the country tunes.
Over the weekend an email came in that totally changed the way we think about Ukrainian polka covers of pop hits. As in, we’d never thought about them at all before, and now we can’t stop. The eye-opening comes courtesy of Los Colorados, whose oom-pah accordion and single marching-band bass drum makes pop songs sound like something you might hear at your Polish Nana’s 80th birthday party.
Original Pop Diva. Powerhouse. Train-wreck. Amongst these and other controversial titles eulogizing Whitney Houston upon her passing last week, let us add one more: Queen of Covers.
It’s true that Houston’s legacy shines bright with accolades that are all-Whitney. The diva received more than 400 industry awards in her lifetime, including six Grammys and 20 Billboard Awards; she scored an impressive string of seven number-one singles with “Saving All My Love For You,” “How Will I Know,” “Greatest Love of All,” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” “Didn’t We Almost Have It All,” “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go;” her debut album, “Whitney Houston” was the best-selling female vocal record, ever, upon its release. And never mind the music career, the lady was also a critically acclaimed actor, model and producer. Oh yes, and a mom.
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.
Best (So Far) finds the finest first-round covers of the latest pop hits.
In light of all the success Katy Perry has garnered in the last several years with the help of hits like “Last Friday Night” and “California Gurls,” it’s not much of a surprise that “The One That Got Away” — the latest single off her third and most popular album, Teenage Dream — is currently blowing up the airwaves. In fact, when the song finally climbed to the top of the charts in December (it was originally released back in September 2011), Teenage Dream clinched the title of first album to release seven number one singles on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play Songs chart.
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.