Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
“Hi. I got a tape I wanna play.”
David Byrne begins the concert film Stop Making Sense with those words. He then begins the show doing a solo acoustic “Psycho Killer,” backed only by a boombox rhythm track. It’s the capital letter of one incredible sentence of a film, and last year it stepped forward once again into America’s collective consciousness as the documentary’s anniversary rerelease swept Talking Heads into the spotlight one (more? last?) time.
“Psycho Killer” was the first song the band ever worked on – Byrne wrote the first verse, Chris Frantz the second, and Tina Weymouth came up with the bridge’s French lyrics. From small beginnings come great things; for all the success the band had afterward, this remains their signature track.
It’s also their most covered track, hopefully not because people can relate to it so well. What follows are five versions that found good reason to say something again after it had been said once.
Duran Duran feat. Victoria DeAngelis – Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)
Easily the best known of this particular group of artists, Duran Duran did their take on “Psycho Killer” (as one YouTube commenter put it, “When legends are covering legends”) with the assistance of Maneskin’s bassist Victoria DeAngelis, having what DD’s John Taylor called “a bass-off.” Who won? The listening public.
The Henry Brothers – Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)
The Henry Brothers released an EP, The Henry Brothers Sing Popular Favorites, featuring the duo doing four covers of very diverse artists, from Aretha Franklin to the Arctic Monkeys. They give the songs an old-time feel with close harmonies and minimal instruments. “Psycho Killer” loses most of its menace to the folksy charm, but it’s still a good little listen.
Dolche – Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)
Dolche is an Italian/French performance artist who got her first burst of attention with her cover. “It was a big challenge, because nothing is more far from my music than a punk song,” she said. “But it was super fun and I did in a couple of hours. I like unexpected results.” Speaking of unexpected, the second verse is different on account of this being a cover of the Talking Heads demo.
Robyn Adele Anderson – Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)
Robyn Adele Anderson is a favorite vocalist of Postmodern Jukebox, but there’s no ’40s vibes on her “Psycho Killer” cover. She sings over a strong musical bed, no lilt to her voice at all, and her eyes oh my God her eyes AAAAUUGHHHH
Bruce Lash – Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)
After that performance, you may well need to chill out. Fortunately, we’ve got just the thing. Bruce Lash released two volumes of Prozak for Lovers, giving the laid-back bossa nova sound to radio faves. He turns the song into a soothing sensation, now playing on a hi-fi near you.