If you’ve been keeping tabs on the always quirky rockers The Flaming Lips, you’ll discover a not-so-hidden trend: they like covering the Beatles. Last month they released their track-for-track cover of the classic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (titled With a Little Help from My Fwends), but a quick search of Cover Me will bring up 5 other Beatles/John Lennon songs they’ve covered, going all the way back to 2010. You can’t really argue with the formula, though, because it seems to be working.
Though she hasn’t released a new album of original material since 2004, Patti Smith has been dropping covers right and left this year. We’ve already heard new takes on U2 and Buddy Holly, we know she’s got a Bob Dylan cover on the way, and now there’s another: a cover of John Lennon’s “Oh Yoko.” Smith recorded the song with longtime bassist/keyboardist Tony Shanahan and a house band last year at a tribute concert. It gets official release next week on The 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute, Live from the Beacon Theatre, NYC and you can stream it below.
Even for them, the Flaming Lips are doing some weird stuff these days. Gummy flash drives? 24-hour songs? Human skulls? By those standards, the cover of the Beatles’ “Revolution” they performed on MTV’s O Music Awards is pretty normal. Wayne Coyne wears an aluminum foil space suit, the band spazzes along behind him, and everything is performed on iPads. So, you know, another day at the office for these guys.
Yang Yang is not a very nice man. The title character to a 1972 Yoko Ono song “sends his men pebbles and stones” and “rips his women down to the bones.” What does this mean? Nothing good. As with much of Ono’s work, it is vagueness in the service of “art.” Still, even if you can’t define the lines, you can’t question the sinister chill.
Anika nails this threatening ambiance on her pulsing cover. The Berlin-and-London-based singer builds an electronic throb to warble over. It could be the soundtrack to an artsy slasher film—the part where the killer slowly approaches the girl in a dead-end hallway. No need to hurry. What’s coming is coming and there’s nothing she can do about it.
Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.
Oh, Yoko. Your husband gets killed and six months later you put out an album in which you openly deal with the tragedy through song. It moves everyone who hears it. But on the album cover you put Lennon’s actual bloody glasses. Was that part really necessary?
Creepy cover or not, with Phil Spector along to ring out every drop of emotion the songs will break your heart. “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do” in particular features the tearjerking line “I want to see us together again / Rocking away in our walnut chairs.” Holly Miranda, frontwoman of New York rockers the Jealous Girlfriends, gives the tune an indie-art update on her new covers EP, Choose to See, which also features covers of Lauryn Hill, David Byrne, Swans and more. TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek takes Spector’s spot in the production chair, so it’s got the Brooklyn arty groove to it without losing the feeling.