Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” is an up-tempo, energetic hit full of emotion and ’80s pop fervor. Released in 1983 off of her album Live from Earth, it’s easily one of her most popular and well-known tracks. But just wait until you hear what Havana Lake – also known as the Australian Steven Heath of I Dream in Transit fame – has done with it.
We’ve been playing Thao + Mirah’s xylophone Pat Benatar cover pretty much nonstop since last year, but just when we thought we were all “Love Is a Battlefield”-ed out, we stumbled upon this. Poppy folk quartet Raining Jane released their own lush cover a few months back and now we’re enjoying gals stripping down the ‘80s hit all over again.
It doesn’t get much more ‘80s than “Love Is a Battlefield.” Pat Benatar’s 1984 hit features all the telltale signs: shameless synth use, paint-by-numbers drum machine, little human emotion. Well, Thao & Mirah – Mirah’s collaboration with Thao Nguyen of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – change all that with their new cover.
Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.
Goose, whose name was inspired by an inside taco-related joke between bandmates Peter Anspach, Ben Atkind, Trevor Bass, and Rick Mitarotonda, formed in Connecticut in 2006. Many point to their performance at the Peach Festival in Scranton, PA in 2019 as the moment that elevated them from local heroes to more widespread fame.
Following in the footsteps of great jam bands before them (yes, they get compared to Phish a lot), Goose is known for keeping the vibe going with extended instrumentals. They’ve been keeping busy during the pandemic, even profiting from a “Bingo Tour” where they live stream a setlist determined in real time by random draws of bingo balls and raising money for charity.
Throughout their different gigs they’ve performed quite a few covers. Let’s check out a sampling of them.
It’s hard not to look at everything in 2020 through the mirror of the pandemic, and a few of the records on our list can be traced directly to it. One artist used her time in lockdown to cover every song on Radiohead’s The Bends, while another did the same thing with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. An indie label pulled together a tribute to one of the many great artists tragically taken by this goddamn virus, Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger. Hal Willner’s long-in-the-works T. Rex tribute album wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with current events, but Willner, too, died of COVID-19 in the spring.
That being said, the majority of the albums on our list have nothing to do with the news. Any year’s a good year for covering obscure Neil Young songs. And if you want to try to tie 28 different bands covering Blink-182’s “Dammit” to 2020, good luck. Even the klezmer-cabaret artist who recorded an album covering the recently deceased released it March 13, just before she’d unfortunately have many more names to add to her list.
In a way though, the whole concept of the covers record is appropriate for a bleak year. They’re all about paying tribute in some way or another, lifting up influences or even guilty pleasures, honoring those that came before. You can listen to these through that prism if you like. Or you can just take a break from thinking about such things and listen to 28 covers of “Dammit.”
– Ray Padgett, Editor-in-Chief
The list starts on the next page…
Pat Benatar‘s “Love is a Battlefield” is indelibly linked to the ’80s, both because anyone who grew up in that era couldn’t escape its broad reach and because of the decade’s stereotypical flourishes found throughout the song: synths, reverb, and melodrama. Despite the fact that it hasn’t aged particularly well, Benatar’s powerful and emotive voice is enough to make it worth keeping on your iPod, even if you only listen sparingly. It’s the sound of young love and desperation. Although the new version by Wrongchilde is very different in sound, that essence of desperation remains.