Aug 242021

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

The Japanese punk band the Blue Hearts were together for the decade 1985 to 1995. Spurred on by a healthy dose of inspiration from U.S. and U.K. punk rock pioneers such as the Ramones and the Clash, the band injected the genre with a spirit and style all their own. They became one of the country’s biggest bands, routinely filling arenas and topping the charts.

For a brief moment in the early 1990s, they attempted to conquer the U.S. market.

The group conducted a brief U.S. tour and released a greatest-hits EP, which received rave reviews from the indie and college presses. “The Blue Hearts are the coolest cultural export from Japan since Godzilla or Speed Racer,” the Boston College student newspaper The Heights wrote in 1990. “Though an accurate description would be tough to come up with, the best idea of what the band is like can come from imagining the Ramones, with surf guitars, singing in Japanese. Their self-titled, six-song EP (their first American release) is a slab of vinyl, filled to the top with goofy, fast-paced, good-time music.”

They even got the MTV News treatment with a featurette from the channel’s rock journalists John Norris and Kurt Loder. “The Blue Hearts powerhouse performance style seems to translate completely,” Loder said. In the clip, vocalist Hiroto Kōmoto told them: “The language barrier might be our biggest problem, but we grew up listening to bands like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles who all sang in English and we couldn’t understand them either, so we think it could work.”

Alas, mainstream success in the U.S. was not meant to be. No matter. Even today, the band is still considered to be one of the greatest Japanese rock n’ roll bands of all time.

The band’s best-known track is their 1987 hit “Linda Linda.” Though mostly sung in Japanese, the love song’s infinitely catchy English-language chorus of “Linda, Linda… Linda, Linda, Linda” has shattered language barriers. Like all great punk rock tunes, it will make you want to pick up a guitar, slam out some power chords and scream “Linda Linda” at the top of your lungs.

In the decades since its release, the song has garnered countless covers, served as the inspiration for a movie and is now the name of a contemporary Los Angeles-based teen punk band. Here’s a rundown of some of the best and most-well known covers of “Linda Linda.” It’s never too late for a crossover hit.
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Jul 032012

Getting your band’s song into an Apple commercial is one of the best publicity moves imaginable. Even if “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove doesn’t seem recognizable by name, you’ve most likely heard it in an iPod Touch commercial. It’s an infectious summer song, and the band gives off the impression they like to have a good time, which explains their choice to cover “Party Hard” by Andrew W.K. for A.V. Undercover. Continue reading »

Dec 092010

One could make the argument that Andrew W.K. singing “Silent Night” is pretty strange. After all, this is the man who bloodied his face with a freakin’ brick for his I Get Wet album cover. However, this is also the man who moonlights as a motivational speaker, espousing mystical self-help advice to anyone who will listen. So maybe Andrew W.K. singing “Silent Night” isn’t all that strange.

In that case, we raise you Andrew W.K. singing “Silent Night” with a random mailman. That weird enough for ya? During Andrew’s taping for the A.V. Club’s ongoing Holiday Undercover series, the neither-snow-nor-rain Postal Service came by just as Andrew was wrapping up. Rodney the mailman, the coolest postal carrier since Mr. McFeely, gamely joins in for one more round. The unlikely duo rip it up in the most genuinely joyful performance we’ve seen yet. Continue reading »

Feb 272010

Cover News is a weekly feature keeping you up to date on the goings-on in the world of cover tunes, tribute albums, etc. Plus, at the bottom we post the array of cover tunes we’ve been sent in the past week. Have you recorded a cool cover? Send an mp3 to the address on the right! As always, follow Cover Me on Twitter for the latest news.

Angélique Kidjo

This Week’s News

Remember when Weezer was good? Kristy Brannon does. Check out her “Say It Ain’t So” recorded for Cover Me. [Cover Me]

Angélique Kidjo is putting a new spin on the whole cover album thing, singing songs that inspired her as a child growing up in Benin. The songs range from a traditional lullaby to “Cold Sweat,” with Bono and John Legend along for the ride. [Kidjo]

Y’all want 14 more Lady Gaga covers? Thought so. [Twitter]

I don’t know what “I Put a Spell on You” has to do with Haiti, but after so many awful choices (“Everybody Hurts”…really??) that’s a blessing. Shane MacGowan (sober!), Johnny Depp (somber!) and friends sing it for charity. [YouTube]

Way back in November of 2008 we posted a full-album cover set of In Rainbows. If we did it again, we’d have to include Bat For Lashes’ string quartet-assisted version of “All I Need.” [24 Bit]

We’d also include Oh No Ono’s “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.” Why is everyone loving on Rainbows all of a sudden? [Stereogum]

Do the D.A.N.C.E. I mean it! Do it now! [Et Musique Pourtous]

Bettye LaVette’s rendition of “Love Reign O’er Me” at 2008’s Kennedy Center Honors apparently brought Pete Townshend to tears. He can cry all over again when it comes out on Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. [Paste]

These days Conway Twitty is best known as a long-running Family Guy gag, but he made music at one point too. Bonnie “Prince” Billy remembers. [My Old Kentucky Home]

While the world awaits a new My Morning Jacket album, Jim James is off performing some Valentine’s Day covers for the swooning masses. [You Ain’t No Picasso]

The XX have been getting so much blog love, it was only a matter of time before the covers started rolling in. Listen to El Perro del Mar’s take on “Shelter” at a recent NYC show. [Vimeo]

After weird-ifying The Velvet Underground & Nico and Songs of Leonard Cohen, Beck has just finished covering Skip Spence’s Oar with help from Feist. [Musical Pairings]

When Friendly Fires aren’t stirring shit up with Radiohead, they make music. Sometimes people cover that music. [Stereogum]

Cover Dylan, win fame and fortune! [Dylan Radio]

This Week’s Submissions

DREAMS – In Dreams (Roy Orbison) [more]

Luc & Nóe – 12:51 (The Strokes) [more]

My Favorite Robot – Fascination Street (The Cure) [more]

NewDay – Fire Love (Lil Wayne/Sade) [more]

Paper the Operator – I Get Wet (Andrew W.K.) [more]

Duke Robillard – Bye Bye Blues (Hamm/Bennett/Lown/Gray) [more]

Julian Shah-Tayler – Just Like Heaven (The Cure) [more]

Seth Shellhouse – I’ll Keep It With Mine (Bob Dylan) [more]

The Steel Wheels – Red Wing (Trad.) [more]

The Steel Wheels – Workin’ on a Building (Trad.) [more]

Send your cover to the address on the right for inclusion!