Jul 232008

Part two of our 80’s tribute series, we follow up all the rockin’ with a little new wave pop.

Jake Shimabukuro – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
The smooth Hawaiian sounds of Jake’s ukulele became a youtube hit with his While My Guitar Gently Weeps cover, but this take is almost as soulful. I wish the lounge background music was stripped though.

KT Tunstall – Walk Like an Egyptian (The Bangles)
A live take here, it’s not too dissimilar to the original, but fun nevertheless. Tunstall says she chose to cover it because of its musical similarity to her single “Hold On.”

Johnny Cash – Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode)
Another classic off the same album that brought the world “Hurt,” this one is a little faster paced. The rollicking piano backs Cash’s broken but forceful vocals.

Norman Palm – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
Sensitive but not pathetic, the guitar harmonies match the vocal ones on this quiet take that would sound like a completely legit song if you ignored the lyrics.

Adam Selzer – Like a Prayer (Madonna)
Dark piano adds a gothic touch to this outtake that gets all touching for the chorus.

Fabienne Louves – She Works Hard for the Money (Donna Summer)
A Swiss German cover here, it’s electro-disco-fun in a language you can’t understand. Hurray!

Kevin Davis – 99 Red Balloons (Nina)
No synths or drum machines here, the riff is taken over by a harmonica. I wish they’d done the German version, but you’ve probably had enough of that after the previous song.

Der Tanz Der Vampire – Totale Finsternis (Total Eclipse of the Heart) (Bonnie Tyler)
Like the original only even more orchestrally epic, this song was rewritten by Jim Steinmen for his German vampire musical. It’s a dark and Gothic bloodsucking love duet that totally eclipses the original. The musical had a brief Broadway run in 2003, but having been rewritten as a camp number was a huge flop. Just go and watch a video of an abridged version from the original Austrian production to understand.

Bat for Lashes – Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Eurythmics)
A thumping, echoey version, it’s trippy psychedelia for the electronic millennium.

The Editors – Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)
An Americana-inflected take, it starts out with a powerful voice and little else and builds from there into an acoustic power ballad.

This Just In…

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Dec 032007

Covers of songs just released are hard to come by, for obvious reasons. There has been forty years for people to cover the latest Beatles song, about three months for the latest Kanye. So for today’s post I’ve collected together a few covers of songs from the last year or two, which these artists jumped on immediately to reinterpret.

-side note: check out my guest post at the fabulous blog of Disney covers Covering the Mouse!-

Editors – Feel Good Inc (Gorillaz)
An English indie rock band, the break-beat synth-rap of the original is transformed into a folkey acoustic jam, tunes given to the rap version in lead singer Tom Smith’s soulful baritone.

We Are Scientists – Bang Bang Rock and Roll (Art Brut)

The two groups represented here went on tour with each other a year ago, and released a promo 7” of them covering each others songs. Haven’t been able to get my hands on Art Brut’s versions of The Great Escape (help anyone?), but WAS released this one on their B-Sides album Crap Attack. Take the structure of the original, and bends it a bit to make it more…normal.

30 Seconds to Mars – Stronger (Kanye West)
I couldn’t believe there was already such a good cover of this one out. The guys sure didn’t waste much time. The band seems to be mostly a My Chemical Romance knock-off, but here they strip the theatrics back for a spacey meandering take on the hit single, where the only hint of the original is a synth version of the Daft Punk sample fading in and out.

Porter Block – Breaking Free (High School Musical)
I try not to post covers just for the humor value, but I couldn’t imagine there would be anything else redeeming about this. I think the movie may be the worst thing to happen to music since James Blunt, but Porter almost makes this song sound legitimate.

Manchester Orchestra – Brother (Annuals)
Where the original starts with two minutes of Radiohead-esq ambient whining, MO skips directly to the melody part, extracting a beautiful and catchy melody that I never would have known was in there.

The White Stripes – Shelter of Your Arms (The Greenhornes)
Take a step away from their normal Delta blues covers, Jack and Meg throw tourmates The Greenhornes a bone here in a wild cover of the 2005 track, paving the way for a couple of the Greenhornes to join Jack in the Raconteurs. Only released as a B-side to The Denial Twist single, this song is arguably better than anything they’ve released recently on their actual albums.

Goat – Sugar We’re Going Down (Fall Out Boy)
Off of the great Guilt By Association comp (where Breaking Free came from too), Goat mixes Houston hip-hop with Appalachian bluegrass in a very inventive cover. The original is by one of my least favorite bands ever, so I’m still not sure that this redeems the song, but it gets close.

Weird Al – Polkarama! (Various)
Everyone knows Al’s penchant for the parody (a cousin of the cover), but you may not realize he does covers on almost every Al-bum, taking loads of recent hits and shoving them, lyrically intact but musically destroyed, into a polka medley. This one, off Straight Outta Lynwood, features takes on Let’s Get It Started, Float On, Don’t Cha, Gold Digger, and many more.

Pascal Fricke- You Can Never Hold Back Spring (Tom Waits)
The master of the instrumental Waits cover, for this one Fricke finger-picks out a ukulele version of the song only weeks after it was first released on last year’s Orphans.