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Jun 192017
 
efya cover

Though Dolly Parton originally wrote and recorded “I Will Always Love You” as a country song, Whitney Houston’s R&B-blast cover has become the gold standard (there’s a chapter about it in my new book about covers). It’s become a staple of American Idol contestants and overly ambitious karaoke singers. The bigger, the belt-ier, the better. No one can top Whitney, but everyone seems to try.

In a refreshing change, Efya takes the song in an entirely different direction. A star in her native Ghana, she actually also got her start in a televised talent show, but you wouldn’t know it from the subtlety and taste she shows here. Accompanied by only a keyboard and African “talking drum,” she strips the song way back in a new live recording for Okayafrica. By tweaking the melody and rhythm, she transform the song into something dark and mournful. When she finally does open up at the end, the vocal power feels totally earned. Continue reading »

Mar 052012
 

It’s very, very likely that no one will ever sing “I Will Always Love You” as well as the late Whitney Houston did, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. Good thing hard rocker Chris Cornell decided to take a chance on the track because, if he hadn’t, the world would have never been able to witness such an unexpected surprise of a cover. Continue reading »

Feb 152012
 

There are few love songs as universally known as Whitney Houston‘s version of “I Will Always Love You.” The song usually attracts those with a heavy heart due to lost love, and with the recent loss of a legend, it hangs even heavier this year. Girls frontman Christopher Owens paid tribute to the late great by performing a solo version of the iconic song. Continue reading »

May 062011
 

Even though nobody will ever be able to top Whitney Houston’s breathtaking 1992 version of Dolly Parton’s classic “I Will Always Love You”, which deserves recognition as one of the best covers of all time, minimalist Brooklyn duo Howth do a commendable job with their own interpretation of the song. Their organ drone, xylophone tinkering and pair of acoustic guitars weave a delicate and emotional frame for the painfully sad lyrics, especially the ones everybody doesn’t immediately recognize. Continue reading »

May 212021
 

Teddy & Jenni Do Porter & DollyIn times of trouble it is often to the sounds of comfort we retreat. We need those tunes of a bygone day that reflect happier times, especially if the songs are those of grief and heartbreak. Here we revisit the safe haven of country weepies, the duets of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, as performed by second generation music royalty, Teddy Thompson (son of Richard and Linda) and Jenni Muldaur (daughter of Geoff and Maria).

Teddy & Jenni Do Porter & Dolly is not markedly different in style than the recent trio of EPs by My Darling Clementine, beyond the age of the originals. The first of three announced tribute EPs by the duo, this one differs in that these are echoes rather than interpretations, and none the worse for that, if with a modern polish buffing up the 1960’s (and 70’s) productions.
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Nov 022020
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody covers

Whitney Houston was a force; her accolades are legion. The people at Guinness World Records named her the most awarded female artist of all time. Her 415 awards (as of 2010) include 6 Grammys and 22 American Music Awards. Of her 30 Billboard Music Awards, she won 11 in one year, breaking a record. Each of her 7 solo albums and 2 soundtrack albums have been certified gold or above.

Houston also has won awards for her involvement in films, including most famously in The Bodyguard with her stunning (cover) performance of “I Will Always Love You.” NPR calls the song the “‘Old Town Road’ of its day.” The Bodyguard soundtrack remains, (as far as I can track down,) the best-selling soundtrack of all time, and the movie’s portrayal of an interracial relationship was impactful at the time.

Houston was not free of personal struggles, including drug use and her tumultuous relationship with Bobby Brown. But today, her impact lies beyond even her music and acting. Houston was a major supporter of Nelson Mandela and performed in benefit concerts during his imprisonment. She then became the first big-name musician to visit South Africa post-apartheid under Mandela. Proceeds from her broadcast of the concerts there were donated to South African charities.

It was only a matter of time before yet another award appeared on Houston’s already long list. This year we celebrate her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It should be noted that Houston is the only female to be inducted this year, joining the fewer than 8% of the other hall of famers who are women.

Although we celebrate Houston’s accomplishment, we take a look at five more somber covers of her Grammy-winning hit “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

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