Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.
“Nothing’s fine, I’m torn!” Oops, wrong Natalie Imbruglia cover song (and yes, that is a cover). Today we celebrate Imbruglia’s 45th birthday by revisiting her cover album, Male, where she covered, you guessed it, songs by a variety of male artists.
You may know Imbruglia from her debut album, Left of the Middle, which has the highest sales for a debut album by an Australian female artist. After her debut, Imbruglia recorded three other albums before taking a break from music and leaning into acting.
This cover album followed the five-year musical drought and got Imbruglia back into touring, where she traveled around Europe and the UK in 2017 and 2018. We’re currently in another quiet period, but Imbruglia has plans to release a new album this year. Can’t wait!
Imbruglia’s Male holds many enjoyable gender-reversals with song choices from a variety of genres, from electronic to country and from pop to rock, and eras spanning 1970 to 2013. Below are a few stand-outs.
Natalie Imbruglia – Instant Crush (Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas cover)
Leaning away from the Super Mario Brothers-like electronic sounds of the original but doubling down on the falsetto, Imbruglia takes this Daft Punk song, the most recent song covered on the album, to a whole new place. The choice of this song instead of the more mainstream “Get Lucky” or “Lose Yourself to Dance” from the same Daft Punk album is smart, giving her a greater opportunity to make the song her own without too many set-in-stone expectations. Imbruglia pours out her soul to a figurine in this music video, acknowledging the original’s music video (which showed the story of love between two wax figures). Although both versions convey a sufficient sense of being crushed by a crush, the more muted instrumentation in this cover make the song more of a poignant ballad.
Natalie Imbruglia – Let My Love Open the Door (Pete Townshend cover)
This cover starts with a daintier xylophone opening and a militant-style drum beat, contrasting the electronic opening and more traditional rock-band percussion of the original. In this version flutes play a dominant role, contributing trills and frills throughout. The cover version is a bit slower than the original and is less danceable, but because of this we hear more sincerity in the promises of the lyrics. We believe Imbruglia when she says she’ll take all worry out of our minds and stop us falling apart.
Natalie Imbruglia – The Waiting (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
A twangy harmonica and more rustic, bongo-like drums start this cover. Snaps and banjo join in, turning a popular rock song into a folk anthem. Imbruglia’s vocals are airier than Petty’s and her “yeah, yeah”s are a bit less stringent. A variety of instruments feature throughout, contrasting the steadier instrumentation of the original. The overall ambiance is that of sitting around a campfire in the country, everyone contributing a bit of sound, no electricity to bulk up the guitar here.
One more tip: an honorable mention goes to her polka-ish version of The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.”
Male track listing:
- Instant Crush (Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas cover)
- Cannonball (Damien Rice cover)
- The Summer (Josh Pyke cover)
- I Will Follow You into the Dark (Death Cab for Cutie cover)
- Goodbye in His Eyes (Zac Brown Band cover)
- Friday I’m in Love (The Cure cover)
- Naked as We Came (Iron & Wine cover)
- Let My Love Open the Door (Pete Townshend cover)
- Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young cover)
- I Melt with You (Modern English cover)
- The Waiting (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
- The Wind (Yusuf / Cat Stevens cover)
Read more about her song choices here.