The video for Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged” is often described as one of the most bloated of all time. Commonly cited in these critiques is the massive scene where Axl Rose jumps off an oil tanker and swims with the dolphins, like James Bond meets Flipper. “With a staggering $4,000,000 price tag and near ten-minute runtime, “Estranged” is an extravagant and thrillingly misguided monument to Axl Rose’s own persecution complex,” wrote Noisey.
In the ‘50s when Elvis Presley shook his pelvis and sang his rowdy brand of rock n’ roll, America exploded. Kids loved it, parents hated it, religious nuts denounced it and racists accused him of infecting white America with black culture.
By the late ’80s, he was practically considered wholesome, harmless entertainment when Guns N’ Roses came along. They were loud, dirty, drunken buffoons, who dressed like slobs and played fast, dirty, misogynistic music. The MTV generation went wild, while their parents, who grew up on Elvis, naturally freaked. One of my fifth-grade classmates’ moms actually mailed copies of the group’s lyrics around to all of our parents warning them of the music’s dangers.
Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.
One could make the argument that ’80s rock ‘n’ roll changed the moment W. Axl Rose stepped off a bus with a piece of hay between his teeth. That was the indelible image that opened the video for “Welcome to the Jungle,” a song that opened with a great “SundaySundaySUNDAYYYY!!” riff from Slash and took the listener on a ride – no, a careen through the worst that the big city had to offer. It opened the best-selling debut album of all time, 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, with as big a bang as one could ask for, and to this day it intimidates visiting teams at sporting events nationwide.
Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work making our list of The Best Cover Songs of 2016. Narrowing it down to 50 caused some excruciating choices, that’s how many great covers there were this year.
We’ll be posting the full list next week (and “Best Cover Albums” this Thursday), but as a little appetizer, here are our Honorable Mentions, covers we loved and still wanted to spotlight as among the best 2016 had to offer.
When we last heard from Majorleans frontman Nick Francis DiFonzo, he was paying tribute to Harry Nilsson with his EP Francis Schmancis. He’s taken on a very different source for his latest cover – but the end result still kind of sounds like a Harry Nilsson song! To bid farewell to a stressful November, he recorded a cover of the Guns ‘n’ Roses lighter-waver “November Rain.” It’s mellow and melancholy, like if Axl and Slash recorded down in Laurel Canyon.