Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.
“All that pressure got you down / Has your head been spinning all around?” How did Chic know?! “Le Freak” was the band’s first number one hit, and it became a best seller for Chic’s label. Since its release in 1978, the song’s significance has been solidified. In 2018 the Library of Congress preserved the track in the National Recording Registry. However, Chic is still waiting on the elusive Rock and Roll Hall of Fame spot; they’ve been nominated over ten times!
Prominent Chic member Nile Rodgers went on to play a key role in the music careers of many others. He wrote big hits for Sister Sledge (“We are Family” and “He’s the Greatest Dancer”) and Diana Ross (“I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down”), and he produced albums for David Bowie (Let’s Dance) and Madonna (Like a Virgin). More recently, he co-wrote and played guitar on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” and you may have heard him on Keith Urban’s latest album. Chic as a whole even released a new album in 2018 featuring artists like Lady Gaga and Elton John.
But for now, let’s see who helps us throwback to the early days of Chic with covers of “Le Freak.”
The Amor Sucio cover is good.
The Space Afro featuring Brazil XXI cover is better.
The Motion Band cover is best.
Amor Sucio – Le Freak (Chic cover)
The opening of this song sounds like you hit “skip” just as “Le Freak” came on, jumping you into a completely different genre. This cover is good because it subverts our expectations. Amor Sucio, a Spanish rock band active in the late ’80s and early ’90s, take an upbeat disco tune and proceed to rock out. Instead of the short, staccato “freak out” of the original, Amor Sucio lingers on the “out,” and there are plenty of moments where guitar and drum have the spotlight. At times we could almost forget that this is actually a cover, but at the very end, the band reminds us that “it is Chic.”
Space Afro featuring Brazil XXI – Le Freak (Chic cover)
Now we turn to a more mellow cover. The whispering intro contrasts the heavier cover we just experienced. It seems a little impossible to “freak out” with the soothing pan flute and the chill bossa nova sounds; it’s the stress ball of covers. Instead of full out dancing to this version, we may just do a little sway in the breeze.
Motion Band – Le Freak (Chic cover)
We go a little more traditional in terms of genre for the “Le Freak” cover we deem “best.” The opening bass line hooks me from the beginning, and then an expressive trumpet joins in, adding even more swagger. Despite the funk elements, this version is a little more laid back than the original. Just like in the Amor Sucio cover, “freak out” is drawn out instead of following the original’s clipped delivery. There’s no hurry; we’re just casually feeling the rhythm and checking the rhyme.