Jan 182021
 

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

Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing"

Hot Chocolate’s career actually started with a cover. They covered John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” in a reggae style, but had to go through Lennon himself to get approval. Although Hot Chocolate then went on to have a stable career of hits in the UK in the ’70s, “You Sexy Thing” is the standout. The song has helped sell products from the Double Whopper to cameras and cars, and it’s been featured in many movies and TV shows. It’s become iconic.

However, this song was originally a B-side track when it was released in 1975. Big mistake, huge! Once re-released as a remix, it took off. It was even headed for the top spot in the UK, but an obscure song beat them there. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” ever heard of it? How did they know this song would “be the one” to stand the test of time? It ended up being the only song to stay in the UK top ten across the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

Whether you believe in miracles or not these days, let’s hear five different takes on this unabashed tune.
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Dec 042020
 

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

She's Gone covers

“She’s Gone” by Daryl Hall & John Oates was born old school. Even though the sign over the door of what was primarily known as “Soul” has long been replaced with the marginally more modern and wider sonic net of “R & B,” “She’s Gone” remains proud, righteous and straight up SOUL to its core. It’s an unabashed, beauteous love letter to the glorious Motown sounds that preceded it a decade before its creation, all harmony, hook, and heartache. It is forever immune from descriptive modernization.

John Oates’s explanation of the song’s genesis in his fine, funny 2017 memoir Change of Seasons was surprisingly comic, given the song’s theme of loss. It’s based on a very brief fling he’d had with a woman he’d encountered on an arctic night in an NYC diner at 3 a.m., who was wearing a pink tutu and cowboy boots (like you do). They dated for a few weeks until she vanished as quickly as she’d appeared, exerting the ultimate romantic gesture of cruelty by standing him up on New Year’s Eve. He says when he realized “she was going to be a no-show on that night of nights,” he thought, “If she’s not coming tonight… then she’s gone.” With that, a chorus was born. John shared the story and his melodic snippet with Daryl the next day, who then sat down at his black Wurtlizer and fleshed out the legendary intro and verses… and voila, “Everybody’s high on consolation,” forever and ever amen.

John knew the song was special. After they’d recorded it, he made this unbelievably prescient observation in his journal:

3/2/73, She’s Gone–I’m putting it down in writing. This is the one. I believe in this one.

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Nov 272020
 

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

Mr Bojangles coversIf you had to be best known for but one song, “Mr. Bojangles” can’t be a bad one to leave as a legacy, even if, strangely, it isn’t necessarily that characteristic of the rest of the author’s output. The author? Jerry Jeff Walker, a stalwart of the outlaw country movement, a contemporary of Waylon and Willie, Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, to name just a few. Walker wrote “Bojangles” in 1967 and released it a year later, early on in a career that would produce well over twenty subsequent long players before his death earlier this year, of throat cancer, aged 78.

“Mr. Bojangles” has often been thought to be in honor of Bill Robinson, a black vaudeville performer who used Mr. Bojangles as his stage name. Not so. Seems it’s really a song about a whole less celebrated performer who Walker had met in jail, when he had been locked up for public intoxication. This Bojangles was a homeless man, who had adopted the name to hide his true identity, but had a fund of stories relating to the life he shared with his dog. When an ugly moment arose in the communal cell, Mr. Bojangles had lightened the mood with a tap dance. As you do.
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Nov 202020
 

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

4 Non Blondes covers

4 Non Blondes were fine with not fitting in. They even named their group after a pointed run in with a blonde family in San Francisco that made that fact very clear. Although they only made one album and disbanded after five years, the group made a splash while they were together. They were particularly influential in the LGBTQ+ community, getting their start in various bars throughout San Francisco. Since the breakup, lead singer Linda Perry and guitarist Shaunna Hall have written and produced with other artists, and drummer Wanda Day continued to drum in other bands until an accident made it too difficult to continue playing.

Their second single, “What’s Up?” was a success all over the world, reaching higher spots on the charts outside of the US than even inside. And although it may be considered a one-hit wonder, the song is one that remains relevant when you are just feeling a bit run down. Some may call it a pre-chorus, I just call it my daily routine.

Here we have five covers of “What’s Up?” trying all the time to live up to the original. All of the covers begin with a different instrument leading the way. I dare you not to sing along.

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Nov 062020
 

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

Nine Inch Nails, originally formed in Cleveland, Ohio, gets a chance to return to their start with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. The third time was the charm; they were nominated in 2014 and 2015 as well.

The band is still active despite many hiatuses throughout their career. For example, did you know that Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” samples a Nine Inch Nails song from one of their instrumental Ghosts albums (the latest, Ghosts V, released this year)? Longstanding band members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have even been involved in writing movie scores for films and television shows such as The Social Network, Gone Girl, and Watchmen.

But back in 1994, their second album The Downward Spiral, a concept album tracing a man’s deteriorating life, brought the band into the mainstream and gave them commercial success. Although one of the singles off this album, “Closer,” is arguably their most popular hit, another of the album’s tracks, “Hurt,” has stood the test of time. It’s been covered most notably by Johnny Cash, but it’s also featured in movies, television shows, and even in sports montages and tributes.

To celebrate Nine Inch Nails’s induction, we revisit “Hurt” with five good covers and one good twist–all of them are by female artists.
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Nov 042020
 

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

What a Fool Believes covers

Artists are eligible for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after their first release. For the Doobie Brothers, who formed in 1970, it took nearly twice as long. Perhaps that’s because they have had twice as many members as most of the other inductees.

The band became hit makers in the early ‘70s: playing a hybrid of hard rock, country-rock, and blues, mixed with well-manicured harmonies. The Doobies’ sound took a 180-degree turn in 1975 when a young soul singer named Michael McDonald was tapped to fill in for the band’s ailing frontman Tom Johnston. Eventually, Johnston left, and McDonald pushed the band into blue-eyed soul territory.

In 1978, the collective recorded and released its eighth studio album Minute by Minute. With its synth-driven pop sounds, the album was a distinct departure from their earlier music. Before it hit the shelves, the band was certain they had a flop. As McDonald recalled in an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music: “I remember playing that album for a friend of mine and said, ‘Well, what do you think’? And he goes, ‘It’s a piece of shit. It sucks.’ And I remember thinking, ‘I think he’s right.’”

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