Though the Beach Boys recorded and released eight studio albums in the ‘70s, the endless sessions produced few classics. The quality of the music was dragged down by drug use, infighting and Brian Wilson’s crushing mental illness. These days, the albums play more like historical time-pieces than essential listening.
Neil Young‘s ambivalent love song “I Believe in You” from After the Goldrush was a popular song to cover after he first released it, with high profile versions from the likes of Linda Ronstadt and Rita Coolidge. The song’s chorus is one of Young’s most overtly romantic but the verses reveal all sorts of doubt about the relationship, that are often lost in cover versions.
There are few more famous covers in music history than Sinead O’Connor’s version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which he first released to little notice in 1985 with his side project The Family. O’Connor made it a global hit five years later, and to some degree just about every subsequent cover has really been a cover of her version. That partly holds true on singer-songwriter Sarah Walk’s new cover, but Walk nods to Prince’s original by enlisting Meshell Ndegeocello, who delivered one of the most powerful Prince covers after his passing, on bass.
What is there to say at this point about the Buzzcocks’ anxious, evergreen anthem of unrequited love, heartbreak and jagged guitars? Composed by the legendary Pete Shelley, the edgy, beautiful, sad and pragmatic (and ever so slightly petulant) “Ever Fallen In Love” is just a perfect pop song. It’s no surprise then that the song’s infectious tune and painfully universal sentiment have turned it into cover catnip. There have been dozens upon dozens of covers of “Ever Fallen…” over the years, the most successful of which was the slick-as-ice 1987 version by Fine Young Cannibals which landed in UK pop top 10, several spots higher than the original managed back in 1978 (sad but true).
Taking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” is so subtitled because it was drastically simpler than the music they had been making for the past few years. For “This Must Be the Place,” the band simplified things considerably, in part because of a gimmick: a few of the members alternated instruments, forcing them to play simpler music. The result is one of the most direct Talking Heads songs of the era.
Last week Miley Cyrus continued her epic run of recent covers during her pre-game performance at this year’s Super Bowl. Along with a cover of “Heart of Glass” by Blondie (which we previously covered here), Miley also performed a modified version of “Mickey” by Toni Basil, “Head Like A Hole” by Nine Inch Nails and “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill. Her versions of “I Hate Myself for Loving You” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, featured special appearances by their original singers, to the delight of the crowd.