Mar 292010
 

In the past few years much ink has been spilt discussing “mashups,” the process of remixing two or more songs together. The weirder the combination, the more impressive the feat. DJs like Girl Talk lead the charge, but due to differing keys and tempos the pairings sometimes sound forced. Mashup covers, on the other hand, have more freedom. Here are ten odd couples and unchained medleys that, defying all probably, kind of work.


Touching Earth Made of Steel – Party in the Spirit World (Miley Cyrus / Daniel Johnston)
Yes, that’s “Party in the U.S.A.” paired with “Spirit World,” from the latest CokeMachineGlow covers mix. Dear Mr. Johnston: I’m sure they didn’t mean it. [Buy]

Keller Williams – My Sisters and Brothers / Boob Job (Charles Johnson / David Wilcox)
There’s something wonderfully irreverent about pairing a hopeful gospel song with a song called “Boob Job.” Jerry Garcia covered the first a few times, but died before he could have a go at the second. [Buy]

Saint Bernadette – Owner Things (Yes / Howard Jones)
“Owner of a Lonely Heart” + “Things Can Only Get Better” = an inspired duo. Though I’m not sure Jones deserves the honor — a few years ago he translated his hit to “Simlish” for The Sims 2. Embarrassing. [Buy]

Kenny Mellman – The Gambler / Poker Face (Kenny Rogers / Lady Gaga)
The man behind the Our Hit Parade pop cover series decided that lyrical theme is enough to tie two songs together. How right he was. [Buy]

Jacqui Naylor – Summertime / Whipping Post (George Gershwin / The Allman Brothers)
Jazz vocalist Naylor is known for her “acoustic smashes,” putting the lyrics to one song atop the melody of a second. Here she sings “Summertime” while the band plays “Whipping Post.” Sneak peek: Look for another even less likely pairing next week. [Buy]

The Afghan Whigs – My World Is Empty Without You / Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang (The Supremes / Dr. Dre)
In this live jam from 1994, the quartet tosses in the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s first single so soulfully you might not notice anything amiss. Check out more at our recent Dre feature. [Buy]

The Spinto Band – Give Me Just a Little More Time / The Sweet Escape / The Boys Are Back in Town (Chairmen of the Board / Gwen Stefani / Thin Lizzy)
This song eschews the normal approach of moving from one song to the next, instead splicing some Gwen and Lizzy into the Detroit soul. It took me a couple listens to figure out where “The Sweet Escape” appeared. [Buy]

Paddy Casey with the Dublin Gospel Choir – Grandma’s Hands / No Diggity (Bill Withers / Blackstreet)
What seems a truly bizarre combination is actually an homage to the original “No Diggity,” which contained a “Grandma’s Hands” sample. This cover pushes that fun bit of trivia to the extreme. If someone covered Girl Talk this way each song would become a thirty-minute ordeal. [Buy]

Tenacious D – More Than a Feeling / Just What I Needed / Dream On (Boston / The Cars / Aerosmith)
The best part of this Boston-band medley that the D performed in 2001 is that three times they build to an epic chorus, then switch songs just before it arrives. Hilariously unsatisfying. [Buy]

Allred – Cover Medley (Various Artists)
Ok, here we go: Tonic, “If You Could Only See” — Howie Day, “Secret” — Guster, “Demons” — Better Than Ezra, “Desperately Wanting” — Michelle Branch, “All You Wanted” — Avril Lavigne, “Complicated” — Eagle Eye Cherry, “Save Tonight” — Boys Like Girls, “Hero/Heroine” — Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly” — Fergie, “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — Rihanna, “Umbrella” — The Eagles, “Hotel California” — Panic! At the Disco, “Nine in the Afternoon” — Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love” — Chris Brown, “With You” — OneRepublic, “Apologize” — Uncle Kracker, “Drift Away.” 17 songs, 7 minutes. Whew! [Buy]

Bonus: The Bloodhound Gang’s mashup of Wu Tang Clan and Weezer just feels right.

Jul 152008
 

There’s just something about the 80’s that inspires great cover songs. So great, in fact, that this series is gonna be a two-parter. First up: Rock. All the excesses of the 80’s – big hair, ten-minute guitar solos, and Jon Bon Jovi – are all well represented below by artists who aren’t afraid to find the good songs amidst the novelty. And stay tuned for some 80’s pop next week.

Jessica Will – For Those About to Rock (AC/DC)
When AC/DC titled this song, they clearly weren’t singing to Will. Her light acoustic take packs a punch, attitude and intensity making up for lack of distortion. And if you want more acoustic female covers of AC/DC, there’s a whole disc of ‘em: Backed in Black.

M. Ward – Let’s Dance (David Bowie)
Indie posterboy, most recently of She & Him fame, does a quiet take kind of like how you would expect and indi posterboy covering Bowie to sound

Jon Regen – Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)
Another ironic Journey cover…yech. This one’s a keeper though, not too mellow and keeping the strong melody of the original. Bonus points for rocking out the guitar fills on the keys!

Anberlin – Love Song (The Cure)
So far in today’s 80’s rock theme, we’ve yet to have any real rocking covers. This should change that though, an aggressive rock band from Florida that does a loud and intense take, with a singing voice that melts in your mouth.

Grizzly Bear – Owner of a Lonely Heart (Yes)
The Bear made the blog rounds a year or so ago with their “He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)” cover (download it here), and this takes a similar approach, a slow builder that never explodes.

The Whip – White Wedding (Billy Idol)
When the banjo leads this one in, you know you’re in for something special. And are you ever. This one’s off a charity comp of Portland covers called Bridging the Distance. Yes, the Decemberists are on it.

Scott D. Davis – The Final Countdown (Europe)
I posted Laibach’s cover of this one a few weeks back, but this piano take is fun and bouncy – way more than Laibach’s death-goth. Davis has a whole album of these instrumental takes on classic rock, Rockfluence, and it’s fabulous.

Mary Lou Lord – Jump (Van Halen)
Cover girl extraordinaire, Lord does a song so sincere here you wonder whether she realizes exactly what band she’s covering. It’s beautiful though, and as she draws you in you forget the original even exists.

Damien Rice – When Doves Cry (Prince)
One of those songs that seems to inspire great covers, I can’t decide if I like this or Patti Smith’s version more. It’s solo acoustic here, with Rice sounding so delicate that if you do touch his stomach, he might break.

Philmore – Livin’ On a Prayer (Bon Jovi)
It seems appropriate to end on some more rock, so here you go. Even louder and more aggressive than the original, but just as sing-along-able.