Oct 012019

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

covers of funkytown

Lipps Inc. may be considered a one-hit wonder, but this big hit is pretty epic. It was even enough to get the band inducted into the (Minnesota) Music Hall of Fame. I just rewatched the original music video, and it is a lot to take in (a deep dive into the weird history of the video can be found here for the curious). The two dancers’ outfits would make great (albeit obscure) Halloween costumes, though.

The band’s musicians rotated frequently, but Cynthia Johnson’s vocals provided consistency. In 1976, before joining the band, she was crowned Miss Black Minnesota USA. After Lipps Inc. dismantled, she went on to a solo career, including being part of the award-winning gospel group Sounds of Blackness. She is also an accomplished saxophonist and host of a 2013 documentary of American cities called, what else, “Funkytown.” Johnson herself is clearly not a one-hit wonder.

Now let’s see how others reinterpret this dance party classic.

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Feb 142014

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

In 1988, Rolling Stone named “Stayin’ Alive” one of the 100 top singles of the last 25 years, and they asked the Bee Gees to comment; how did they feel about the song? The terse response: “We’d like to dress it up in a white suit and gold chains and set it on fire.” It’s an understandable reaction – for all the wealth and fame the song brought them, it also swept aside their estimable back catalog and pigeonholed them as Disco with a capital Dis, so much so that when the genre died, the Bee Gees’ commercial success in the U.S. died with it.

But for all the venom directed “Stayin’ Alive”‘s way, for all its use as a punchline from Airplane! to Ted, people can’t get away from how good a song it is. “Look at great huge Maurice Gibb, singing like Donald Duck on ‘Stayin’ Alive,'” Roger Daltrey of the Who carped in 1978, then instantly added, “And that’s a great song. Bruce Springsteen could sing that lyric.”
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