Apr 102020
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River"

Justin Timberlake was one of the rare artists who successfully escaped a ’90s boy band to become a “serious” and respected artist. This was almost unheard of at the time; many “leaders” of bands failed to breakthrough as solo artists, let alone boy bands. But Timberlake paved the way for others like Harry Styles to flourish beyond their first act. However, Timberlake did not do it alone. Timbaland and The Neptunes, a production duo made up of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, helped craft Timberlake’s first solo album Justified.

I didn’t always know this fun fact. I recently re-discovered Timbaland’s Shock Value and Shock Value II, and although I appreciated the wide variety in collaborators (Jet, Fall Out Boy, Chad Kroeger, and Elton John are some of the most surprising), I realized that Timberlake and Timbaland sure were collaborating a lot. Then I started to do some digging and realized how influential Timbaland was in Timberlake’s career. Throwing the whole way back to Justified put Pharrell on my radar as well. I then wondered how many other artists these two had influenced in a similar way, and with that question, this week of posts was born.

I discovered that The Neptunes produced hits like “Señorita,” “Like I Love You,” and “Rock Your Body,” while Timbaland produced “Cry Me a River” and the less mainstream but still impactful “Right for Me” and “(Oh No) What You Got.” Since then, Timbaland has been involved in each of Justin Timberlake’s solo albums, helping Timberlake to bring SexyBack and rock a Suit & Tie, among other good deeds. He is even involved in the Trolls soundtrack! Man in the Woods also reunited Timberlake, Timbaland, and The Neptunes. Where would Timberlake be without these two?!

After a week of exploring the influences of the two triple threats Timbaland and Pharrell Williams (they write, they produce, and they perform), we delve into five covers of “Cry Me a River,” Justified‘s second single that features Timbaland vocals. For context, the song was inspired by Timberlake’s breakup with Britney Spears. Key features to listen for are the piano and synth lines,  the opening monk chants, an intense beat drop, and falsetto accusations like “don’t act like you don’t know it” and “I found out from him.”

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Sep 072010
 

Quick, name a classic Jerry Lee Lewis album. Okay, now try Chuck Berry. Little Richard? Bo Diddley? Fats Domino?

How’d you do? Bet you came up empty. Don’t feel bad. After all, these artists didn’t make albums; they made singles. Sure, labels collected those singles on any number of mix-and-match LPs, but the artist never intended them for that medium. Singles mean to grab you by the lapel for two minutes before the disc jockey switches to someone else. The end result: artists recycled proven formulas. But who cares if “Johnny B. Goode” is basically a “Roll Over Beethoven” rewrite? They weren’t meant to be listened to together.

On The Baseballs Strike! Back, the expanded re-release of their 2009 debut Strike!, the nostalgic trio rips off Domino, Jerry Lee, and all their Brylcreem-slick peers. Their sound isn’t particularly innovate, but that’s the whole idea. These guys adapt that early rock and roll style to current pop hits. Ever wonder what Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” would sound like as skiffle? Probably not, but they’ll show you anyway. Continue reading »