Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
Crowded House, harking from the land down under, formed in the mid-80s. Their first album, self-titled, took a little bit of time to catch on, but its fourth single, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” became a hit internationally. The band, with a changing line-up, has been making music off and on ever since. Neil Finn has even taken on quite a side project, joining Fleetwood Mac after Lindsey Buckingham’s departure.
The band, in its current form, was supposed to tour in 2020, but the pandemic required a postponement. However, there is a silver lining to the lockdown; a new Crowded House album is being promised this year. Until then, we can revisit this song that started it all. Cover Me’s own Jordan Becker talks about the original tune, and we’ve discussed a cover in the past, but the more covers, the merrier. Here’s five more!
The Head And The Heart – Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House cover)
We’ll start with a cover that sticks to the original’s spirit very closely. The opening tells us just what we’re in for, matching the original’s distinctive limping rhythm. The synth-turned-electric guitar break in the middle remains (everyone does get a turn to dream before it’s over). Plus, the climactic moment towards the end where there is a break in the music before “hey now, hey now” leaves plenty of room for a fist pump. The vocal tradeoff between Jonathan Russell and Charity Rose Thielen does make this cover stand apart from the original a bit, though, as they take turns telling the first and second verses’ stories, respectively.
Sixpence None The Richer – Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House cover)
This cover is a bit sparser. The acoustic guitar starts in a noticeably different key, the strums firm and sonorous before backing off to complement the “Kiss Me” airy vocals. Throughout the whole song, Sixpence None The Richer keeps it simple; the instrumental interludes are shortened, and there is less buildup in the story line. Even without some of the heightened tension in the song, we’re still left reminiscing.
Lauren Daigle – Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House cover)
Lauren Daigle has covered this song in other, simpler ways, but this version has the syncopated backbeat that adds an extra oomph to the song. Background singers join in as well to breathe the “hey now”s. The synth interlude becomes more organ-sounding, an ode to Daigle’s Christian music background perhaps, while the guitar break becomes a set of choral “ooh”s. The ending doubles down on the melancholy; it’s the saddest “we know they won’t win” that I’ve heard.
Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande – Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House cover)
Miley Cyrus has a talent for covers, and this time she enlists another powerhouse, Ariana Grande, to take on Crowded House with her. The back and forth of their distinctive voices makes for a compelling duet. They trade off naturally and blend together on the “to build a wall between us” line to fight against that separation. There is even some banter during the instrumental break, but after some stumbling, they get back in sync.
Gabriel Mann – Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House cover)
We’ll close with a cover that starts with a light touch but still gives us an overall sense of catharsis. A dreamy back-and-forth-beat sets the scene, and a delicate piano continues that dainty dream as the song picks up steam and builds in urgency. Throughout the typical instrumental break, there are also periods of relative quiet, providing moments of reflection. The dream sequence is kept alive throughout by Owl City “Firefly” sounds that peek in as well. The song ends, a bit abruptly, on a dramatic call to action.
Flock of Dimes also has a nice cover of this. None of them do my favorite part though, where they substitute a ii for the IV chord in the last chorus. Oh well.
I also like this version a lot:
I heard this version in Cuba about eight years ago. No internet so no Shazam. But I remembered to track it down.